Bangalore Commuter Rail project remains a distant dream

BANGALORE (SBC): The commuter rail project in Bangalore hasn’t chugged in beyond the proposal stage. “It’s under examination. We only know that the system will use existing lines and stations, staff and maintenance facilities of South Western Railways (SWR). They will buy rakes, invest to set up develop terminals, improve some sections of lines and add automatic signaling,” said Anil Kumar Agarwal, Division Railway Manager, SWR. As of now, the Karnataka government has only sent a formal proposal to the Railway Board and ministry.

Between April and November 2013, the Bangalore division of SWR collected Rs.6.02 crore by penalizing 1.24 lakh ticketless passengers. “Most passengers found travelling ticketless are on the Malur, Tumkur, Kolar, Marikuppam, Channapatna routes. After every round of checking, tickets sale soared,” Agarwal said.

The penalty levied is Rs 250 for short-distance travel. The amount increases depending on the distance travelled. The challenge SWR officials admit has been increase in fare and concessional travelling. SWR issues 43,000 passes per month, including 500 quarterly passes and 280 half-yearly passes. The Izzat pass, for example, is worth Rs 25 per month for 25 trips covering 300 km around Bangalore. Sources say even Class II officials of Vidhana Soudha avail of Izzat pass.

Bangalore: Amidst losses on infrastructure building and revenue, railway division in Bangalore is finding it hard to plug leakages. Between April and November 2013, the Bangalore division of south western railway (SWR) collected a whopping Rs 6.02 crore, penalizing 1.24 lakh ticketless passengers.

Anil Kumar Agarwal, division railway manager (South Western Railways): “The most number of passengers found traveling without tickets are on the Malur, Tumkur, Kolar, Marikuppam, Channapatna to Bangalore. We have been continuously conducting checks but we have been issued a notice by the chairman of Railway Board also to have stricter checks called fortress checks in railway terminology. By doing so, for a week, we have collected Rs3 lakh fine from 914 ticketless travelers. It is noted that after each day of checking, the tickets sale has increased.”

Penalty is Rs250 for short distance travelers but increases depending on the distance traveled. There are 36 people in the squad for the special checks but there is a shortage of Train Ticket Examiners (TTEs). The sanctioned strength should be 547 but 475 are employed. “We had proposed for increasing the sanctioned strength by 120 to the railway board and have resent the proposal again. This should fulfill our requirement also,” said N Ramesh, Senior Divisional Commercial Manager of Bangalore.

The challenge SWR officials admit has been the fare increase and concessional traveling. It issues 43,000 passes per month including 500 quarterly passes and 280 half yearly passes. The Izzat pass, for example, is worth Rs25 per month for 25 trips a month for 300 km distances around Bangalore. Sources said that even Class II officials of Vidhana Soudha also avail such Izzat passes.

Commuter Railway has no headway:

On Commuter rail, Bangalore Division of SWR said that they only know that the Karnataka government has sent a formal proposal to the Railway Board and ministry. “It is under examination. We only know that the system will use existing lines and stations, staff and maintenance facilities SWR has. They will buy rakes, invest to set up develop terminals, some sections of lines will be improved and automatic signaling will be added,” said Agarwal.

However, he said that monthly concessional tickets and Izzat passes would have to continue and this is one reason why commuter trains always run on losses. “Even in Mumbai, the trains carry four times more load than they are made for, but most people use concessional arrangements which is why it runs on losses. But the only good is that in commuter trains, you don’t find many ticketless travelers,” he added.

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