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News Entry# 288781
Dec 16 2016 (08:23)  Infra lacking, suburban rail still a distant dream (
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Commentary/Human InterestSWR/South Western  -  

News Entry# 288781     
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Posted by: rdb*^  133024 news posts
BENGALURU: City development minister KJ George meeting the key stakeholders, including MPs from Bengaluru, of the suburban rail project last Monday to discuss proposals by the Railways is definitely a move forward, but the project is a distant dream with railway officials saying that the basic rail infrastructure around the city is still not in place.
The first proposal, estimated to cost Rs 360 crore, discussed in last Monday's meeting involves conversion of 15 pairs of conventional diesel electric multiple unit (DEMU) rakes to mainline electrical multiple unit (MEMU) cars with 12 rakes for the Mandya, Bangarpet, and Gowribidanur sections. This is part of the first phase of the suburban rail project.
the state government is shifting its focus on suburban rail project as a mass transit system other than Metro, there are still a number of hurdles for Bengaluru to go the Mumbai way.
South Western Railway officials say that the basic rail infrastructure around Bengaluru is not yet ready for a suburban rail system. "Almost half of the tracks towards Hosur and Chikkaballapur are yet to be doubled and electrified. Some sections of Tumakuru rail corridor is waiting to be electrified," said Sanjiv Kumar Agarwal, DRM, Bengaluru division of SWR.
"We should not call this suburban rail. It is a long distance passenger train. Local trains, like those in Mumbai, Kolkata or Chennai, run around the city and its suburbs in short intervals and the journey takes about an hour. We have proposed to replace the existing rakes to MEMU because it is faster and the carrying capacity is 1.5 times more than DEMU rakes," said Agarwal.
The project will be a joint venture between Railways and the state. Railways, however is yet to approve sharing half of the cost to be incurred in replacing the DEMU rakes, said state government officials who attended the meeting.
In February this year, rail minister Suresh Prabhu had announced that Railways will enter into joint ventures with states and undertake suburban railway projects as Special Purpose Vehicles (SPV). The ministry, however, has only framed the draft policy and committed itself to only 20% of the financial burden of implementing the projects in different cities.
When asked, Mahendra Jain, additional chief secretary, urban development department said, "The draft policy was shared with the state government in the meeting on Monday. What I could figure out was that the state will have to bear 20% of the project cost and take loans for the remaining 60%. We have to consider our options and send our replies. The final policy still has some time to come into effect. So, we wanted to do something to aid mass transit. As part of our plans, we wanted to deploy MEMU rakes that are faster." The SWR and the state government officials, however, said the frequency of the train will be less, unlike suburban trains.
Another big challenge for Railways is to augment services at Krantiveera Sangolli Rayanna (Bengaluru city) railway station. The station, according to Railways, does not have enough space to accommodate local trains as it already handles 130 pairs of trains every day. The coaching terminal at Byappanahalli, to cost Rs 125 crore, is yet to take off. The project, to be entirely executed by the ministry, will enable Byappanahalli to handle 15 trains.
Local trains between Byappanahalli & Whitefield
Lakhs of techies, corporates and industrial workers of Whitefield and Kadugodi industrial area will soon be able to travel to work from Byappanahalli in just 10 minutes. South Western Railway and the state government have approved running of two pairs of local trains between Byappanahalli and Whitefield during morning and evening peak hours.
This service will connect to Byappanahalli Metro station, which will act as an interchange for train and Metro commuters. The government aims to start operations across the entire 42km stretch of Namma Metro's Phase I by April 2017.
The link could prove to be a boon for lakhs of people who travel from various corners of the city towards Whitefield, Electronic City and Bellandur for work. Savitri Patil, a state government employee and a resident of Vijaynagar, has a tough time reaching her office in Malur in Kolar on days she misses her 7am train. She has to take a Metro to Byappanahalli and then a bus to reach her office, which takes a little more than an hour. "Earlier, when Metro from west Bengaluru hadn't started, I had to change three buses to reach office," she said.
Mahesh Madevappa, a resident of Kengeri, takes a local to ITPL every day. "The train is the best mode to reach office. Although it takes a good one hour to reach, but it is comfortable and cheap. I try not to miss the train as its frequency is very low. We need a suburban rail service as it will have more trains every day. It will help daily wage workers and housekeeping staff working at various I-T firms."
The railways is also considering introducing new services after the rake conversion and running commuter train service from Jnana Bharati and Nayandahalli to Ramanagaram. Besides, integration of the yard at Jnana Bharati and Nayandahalli with Namma Metro services has also been agreed in principle.
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