Activists want the railway minister to take steps to speed up suburban rail projects in Bengaluru | So Good News
A file photo of Kempegowda International Airport stop railway station. | Photo credit: The Hindu
Five months ago, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone for the suburban rail project and assured Bengalurus that the project will be a reality in 40 months. Cut to the present and rail activists say the project has yet to get the boost it needs. They now hope that Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw’s visit to the city will help resolve the issues delaying the implementation of the 148 km long suburban railway network.
After landing at the Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) on Saturday, the minister is scheduled to visit the airport stop station built on the border of the airport premises. The station has been in operation since January 2021, but remains underutilized due to poor patronage for the existing train services.
When the suburban rail project was sanctioned by the Union Government in 2020, the implementing agency – Rail Infrastructure Development Company (Karnataka) Ltd. (KRIDE) – required to implement the 41 km long Majestic – Devanahalli line which also connects KIA on priority. However, the agency has decided to implement the Baiyappanahalli – Chikkabanavara line in the first phase.
Convenor of Citizens for Citizens Rajkumar Dugar said, “There is a need to take drastic action to make suburban rail connectivity to the airport a reality. Terminal II is ready to be opened for commercial operations without a mass transport system from the city to the airport and airport commuting will soon to be a crisis Existing MEMU train services to the airport are experiencing poor patronage due to various issues including very low punctuality and BIAL is yet to succeed in persuading even a small number of 28,000 people working at the airport to use the train services . There is an urgent need to take up the commuter rail project in the interest of thousands of people traveling to the airport.”
Rail activist Sanjeev Dyamannavar said KRIDE should tender for other corridors proposed under suburban rail projects, including the Majestic – Airport line. “Existing hurdles to implement Baiyappanahalli to Chikkabanavara line need to be removed. On the other hand, projects related to South Western Railway (SWR) like automatic signaling systems and others need to be fast tracked,” he added.
On Saturday, the railway minister is scheduled to meet the prime minister to discuss the railway projects in the state.
Sources in SWR said, “Along with rail-related projects, the minister is likely to review the status of the suburban rail project in the city and issue instructions to the authorities concerned to expedite the project.”
A KRIDE official said that at Hebbal, the contractor of the Baiyappanahalli – Chikkabanavara corridor has started soil testing and other works and the process of availing loans from the International Finance Agency had reached an advanced stage. The official added that the tenders for the rest of the corridors would be floated in phases.