Cheap commute option to KIA awaits passengers
A little over a fortnight after South Western Railways (SWR) introduced services to Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) on January 4, patronage is yet to pick up. While five pairs of trains operate to and from Krantiveera Sangolli Rayanna (KSR), Yeshwanthpur and Yelahanka stations to the KIA halt station, only around 50 people use the service every day.
SWR officials, who say that they are monitoring all the services on a regular basis to ensure that there are no delays, are hoping that the ridership will pick up in the coming weeks.
The few passengers who do use the train service every day to commute to work are happy with the service.
Suresh, who works in the airport campus and boarded the train at Doddajala with his friend Ramamurthy, said, “Before this service was introduced, we were depending on taxis to reach the airport. More people will start travelling by train.”
On Wednesday, there were only two people on board the train from Yelahanka to the KIA halt station. As scheduled, the train left at 7 a.m. and reached KIA halt station at 7.20 a.m.
The return trip from Devanahalli station to Cantonment had many local passengers who said it was a convenient way to commute to the city. However the train was delayed for more than 30 minutes. It reached KIA halt station at 8.40 a.m. instead of 7.50 a.m. Officials attributed the delay to a weld failure between Yelahanka and Devanahalli.
Regular train users say that success of the service will depend on SWR ensuring that the trains are punctual.
Sundaramurthy, who wanted to take the train, but returned his ticket because of the delay said, “I wanted to travel to Baiyappanahalli and decided to take the train instead of a bus. I use a monthly bus pass to reach my workplace. I have to change buses twice and face traffic congestion at Nagawara, Hebbal and other locations, which increases my travel time. But maintaining punctuality is very crucial.”
‘Economical and hassle free’
Sreenivas Babu, a Namma Metro employee who uses the train service to travel from Baiyappanahalli to Devanahalli, said, “I used to spend around ₹3,500 per month to travel from my residence to my workplace. Now, I can manage with around ₹600. There is no need to catch multiple buses. My commute has come down from three-and-a-half hours to one-and-a-half hours.”
Mohammed Farhan, a student who had come to the airport to leave his brother, said, “While I was coming from the city, I paid around ₹600 for a taxi. Now I can go back with just ₹10.”
Others were of the opinion that the railways should also cater to the needs of locals by building stations at Betta Halasur and Doddajala.
They feel that villagers living near the airport should be able to access the new halt station. “The authorities have closed the road linking the halt station to the national highway citing security. If that opens, people from Bachahalli Gate, Kanmangla, Poojanahalli, Bhuvanahahalli and other villagers will be able to use the train,” said a passenger.
Chief PRO of SWR E. Vijaya said that train timings have been fixed in consultation with airport authorities. “The timings are designed to cater to peak hour traffic generally between 6 to 8 a.m. and 7-10 p.m. Wide publicity has been given for train services to the airport. We are trying to publicise it on social media too by posting schedules of 10 trains,” she said.