Bangalore (SBC): Commuters frequenting to Bangalore from neighbouring towns and cities, Keep your fingers crossed.
The longstanding demand for commuter rail for linking Bangalore with its suburban towns has been put on the fast track and awaiting a formal approval from the Railway Board, which is expected to meet some time before the next year’s railway budget.
“We will place a formal proposal before the board for the phase-1 of the project estimated to cost Rs 950 crore soon after we formulate the Detailed Project Report (DPR) which is expected to be ready by December”, said urban development minister Vinay Kumar Sorake addressing a suburban rail service workshop here on Tuesday.
The workshop was organsied for select elected representatives to apprise them about the importance of the project and make them prevail over union minister Malikarjuna M Kharge to approve the project.
Under the phase 1, the project would cover Bangalore-Mandya, Bangalore-Bangarpet and Bangalore-Tumkur sectors network spread over a distance of 200 km.
Karnataka government has not only asked the Railways to approve the project, but also it wants to pick up equity in Bangalore Suburban Railway Company Ltd, a special purpose vehicle to be launched to implement the project and contribute 50 per cent of the project cost estimated to be Rs. 8,759 crore.
Sorake said he is still quite hopeful that the project will get the sanction from the board with Kharge at the helm of Railways.
But senior railways officer who attended the workshop sounded pessimistic. “There are three major issues that need be addressed to take the project forward – introducing automatic signaling system, decongesting Bangalore city and Yeshwantpur railway stations and enhancing infrastructure to accommodate local trains. All these require a lot of funds. Whether the railway will approve the proposal when it is faced with a loss of about Rs 25,000 crore is a million dollar question,” said Anil Kumar Agarwal, divisional railway manager, South Western Railway (Bangalore Division).
However, Agarwal maintained that the SWR has presented “positive comments” to take up the commuter rail forward before the railway board.
Quoting a feasibility report prepared by Rail India Technical and Economical Search (RITES) in 2012, V Manjula, Commissioner, Directorate of Urban Land and Transport (DULT) said another major hindrance the project is set to face is land. The 16-acre Binny Mills land close to city railway station may become a decisive factor.