BENGALURU: Karnataka is among the three worst states in the country with regard to electrification of railway lines, behind only Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh. According to the railway ministry, only 19 of existing lines in Karnataka are electrified, while it’s 18% in Gujarat and 13% in Himachal Pradesh. Karnataka, which has a total network of 3,281km, has just 632km electrified, way behind other southern states.
With a total rail network of 297km, Himachal Pradesh has 40km electrified, while Gujarat has managed to electrify only 970km of its 5,259km network. Kerala has the most electrified lines in the country (83%), followed by Odisha (78%), Andhra Pradesh (76%), New Delhi (75%) and Chhattisgarh (72). Nationally, only 30,012km (45%) of the total 66,687km had been electrified till April this year.
Indian Railways recently decided to electrify its entire network in four years at an estimated cost of Rs 35,000 crore, which is expected to save Rs 10,500 crore a year in the fuel bill. The move to phase out diesel locomotives is also expected to reduce greenhouse gas emission.
Union minister of state of railways Rajen Gohain on Friday said in the Rajya Sabha that they have identified 13,675km of railway lines for electrification, which includes 1,051km in Karnataka, which will be included in the 2018-19 budget.
“Indian railways has prepared an action plan to electrify 38,000 km broad gauge lines across the country in five years. It has also decided to increase the pace of electrification from the present average of 1,700km per annum to 4,000km a year, which will be further increased to 6000km a year in 2018-19,” he said in a written statement.
Only 3 electrified routes in State
South Western Railway (SWR) officials say there are three electrified rail routes in Karnataka — Bengaluru-Jolarpettai, Yelahanka-Dharmavaram and Bengaluru-Ramanagaram.
“Electrification work on the Ramanagara-Mysuru section is complete and ready for commissioning,” SWR chief public relations officer E Vijaya said.
She said electrification is under way on Hospet-Ballari, Yelahanka-Penukonda (second line), Hospet-Vasco and Londa-Miraj lines. “We have also proposed electrification of Bengaluru-Hubballi (with doubling), Gadag-Hotgi (with doubling), Chikjajur-Ballari (single line) and Bengaluru – Omalur (single line),” she said.
Sources in the SWR electrical department said electrification will be completed only by 2025. Asked about Karnataka’s position, an official said: “Electrification work in main lines has been sanctioned recently and work is being executed expeditiously.”
Speed up work: Activists
Rail activists have been demanding speeding up of electrification in Karnataka. Sanjeev Dyamannavar said lack of political will is the primary reason for slow work. “Elected representatives should put pressure on the railway ministry to complete all doubling and electrification work,” he said, adding that the railways is giving priority to routes which see freight movements.
“Karnataka has only a few industries outside Bengaluru which is another reason for the delay in electrification and doubling work. Railways is keen on transporting coal to thermal power plants in Raichur, Yeramarus and Ballari, which is may prompt them to develop rail infrastructure which includes doubling and electrification,” he said.
He said electrification between Mysuru and Bengaluru is a recent achievement for SWR. “The railways has neglected Karnataka for decades. It should also set up electrical loco sheds for maintenance of electric locomotives. At present, there are no such sheds in Karnataka so locomotives have to be taken outside SWR for maintenance,” he said.
Dyamannavar said completion of electrification will help SWR replace diesel multiple electric unit (DEMU) with mainline electric multiple units (MEMU) which will help suburban passengers.