बेंगलुरू Bengaluru (SBC): New railway line across Ghat section expected to cut travel time by 75 minutes; railways conducting survey to study the feasibility of project. The doubling of the 55 km stretch of railway line in the Western Ghats, for which the Railways has already begun a survey, could well increase economic activity between Bengaluru city and the port-city of Mangaluru.
The Railways has taken up a survey of the 183 km stretch between Hassan and Mangaluru to explore another track alongside the existing line, which connects Bengaluru to the coastal city.
The survey includes the most critical 55 km stretch between Sakaleshpur and Subramanya railway stations. “We are expected to suggest the tentative alignment, extent of land required, and approximate cost. We will submit our report to the ministry by August,” a senior railway official said. All it depends on the clearances from the Railway Board and Ministry of Environment and Forest (MOEF), he said.
Railway officials believe that doubling of track in the Ghat section is critical if Karnataka is to see a meaningful change in the rail transportation scenario between Bengaluru and Mangaluru. The Shiradi Ghat road between Sakleshpur and Mangaluru has currently been shut for repair works, and the poor condition of this road has often disrupted road traffic.
The railway authorities say the new Bengaluru-Hassan line will not bring about a major change in the rail traffic between Bengaluru and Mangaluru unless the state and the central governments simultaneously considered doubling of the track on the Sakleshpur-Subramanya section. “The new Bengaluru-Hassan line will at best cut the distance between the two places, but it will not help increase train service between Bengaluru and Mangaluru,” a railway official said.
The two cities currently have two trains running between them — one at night via Mysuru and another during the day via Tumakuru. According to AK Agarwal, Divisional Railway Manager at Bengaluru, once the new Bengaluru-Hassan line is fully operational, the travel time between Bengaluru and Mangaluru will come down by 75 minutes for night trains.
There is good passenger demand for trains between Bengaluru and Mangaluru provided the journey is not circuitous and the travel time, too, is not long. But the single track Ghat section not only increases the travel time, but has also come in the way of introducing more night trains. “The speed allowed for trains on this section is only 30 km per hour and it takes two hours to cross this 55 km stretch.” MP Shyam, director at Cauvery Ford and Advaith Hyundai, the car dealership with a presence in both Bengaluru and Mangaluru, a second railway line to the port city will boost export and trade besides creating new jobs. “In fact, one of the two rail lines should run right up to the port,” he said. The Hassan-Mangaluru line is owned by the Hassan Mangalore Rail Development Company , a JV between Karnataka and the Ministry of Railways, and the Railway Safety Commissioner has allowed only 12 trains — six on each side. The company, however, has limited passenger trains to only two on each side, and four goods trains move up and down.