FM Arun Jaitley announces Financial support to Bengaluru Suburban Rail Project

BENGALURU: Bengaluru’s long-pending demand for a full-fledged suburban rail project received financial support in Budget 2018. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, however, did not elaborate on the precise amount of funding. The finance minister announced Rs 17,000 crore for both the Bengaluru’s transport infrastructure — with a special mention ofthe 160-km suburban rail network — without giving further details.

Observers in Bengaluru were also confused by the FM’s announcement as it did not provide crucial details. This is, however, not the first time that the city’s suburban rail project is finding a mention in the Union Budget. V Sadananda Gowda, as Railway Minister, had also promised the centre’s support to the project.

Preempting the Budget announcement, the Congress-led government in Karnataka, on Wednesday, gave its administrative approval for the Suburban Rail Project and allocated Rs 350 crore (its 20% equity) for it. The entire 440-km project costs Rs 10,500 crore.

As per the suburban rail policy, announced by the Ministry of Railways, the state and Railways will have share an equity of 20% each. The remaining 60% will have to be raised by the special purpose vehicle that will be formed to execute the project.

The RITES Ltd had prepared Detailed Project Report in 2016. The total capital cost for the implementation of “Bengaluru Suburban Rail System” – proposed to be taken up in three phases – is projected to cost Rs 10,929 crore. While the Stage-1 of Phase-1A would cost Rs 615, the Stage 2 of Phase-1A and ‘Beyond Phase-1A’ is estimated to cost Rs 1,812 crore and Rs 8,502 crore.

In last January, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Ministry of Railways and the Government of Karnataka to take up four works. It includes conversion of 15 pairs of conventional/DEMU rakes to MEMU rakes (Rs 278 crore), augmenting maintenance facility for MEMU rakes at Banaswadi (Rs 25 crore) and introduction of new service in peak hours between Baiyappanahalli-Whitefield (Rs 41.2 crore). State government is bearing 80 % of the total Rs 345 crore.