Suburban rail project to take six years to be completed
K–RIDE has proposed that work be taken up simultaneously across all four corridors to avoid further delay
Citizens will have to wait for at least six years before all the four corridors proposed under the suburban rail project are completed. To prevent further delays, the Rail Infrastructure Development Company (Karnataka) Ltd. (K –RIDE ) has proposed that work should not be undertaken in phases but simultaneously across the corridors — KSR Bengaluru to Devanahalli, Baiyappanahalli to Chikkabanvara, Kengeri to Whitefield, and Heelalige to Rajanakunte.
“Taking up a project in a phased manner will delay execution, so there is a plan to start the project in all the corridors and complete it within the deadline,” said sources.
Citizens groups and activists who have been campaigning for the suburban rail network in Bengaluru said of the four corridors, the agency should complete the KSR Bengaluru to Devanahalli line on priority as it would come as a relief to commuters relying on public transport to get to work.
The authorities will start issuing the preliminary notification for acquisition of 102 acres of land required for the project from next month. However, unlike with other infrastructure projects, land acquisition is not expected to be a hurdle. “More than 85% of the land required for the project is available. For the rest of the 102 acres of land, preliminary notification will be issued,” said an official.
Rail activists have demanded that the authorities make the suburban rail system an economical option for the public to travel in the city.
Rail activist Sanjeev Dyamannavar said, “The suburban rail project involves a huge investment. To lessen the burden, the government must explore the possibility of giving GST exemption, interest-free loans, and others,” he said.
Lakhs of people are expected to use the mass transit system once it is operational, and the pricing of tickets will play a role in determining its popularity. “K-RIDE must also explore other options to make the suburban rail system sustainable by generating non-fare box revenue. These measures will help the public get a transport system at an affordable rate,” Mr. Dyamannavar added.
Another bone of contention is K-RIDE’s plans to run trains with air-conditioned coaches. This will significantly increase ticket fares. Commuters argue that Bengaluru’s weather is such that they do not need air-conditioned coaches, and that people should be given the option of travelling in non-AC coaches too.
“The fares should be such that even the poorest of the poor can use the suburban rail. The cost of building a rail system is much cheaper than that of a metro network. The agency should take up the project that has been delayed for decades on a war footing,” said Rajkumar Dugar of Citizens for Citizens.