Line doubling, Rail Electrification projects get a boost in Karnataka

Karnataka gets Rs 724 crore for rail safety. However, meagre allocation to State still a concern for advocacy groups

BANGALORE: The finer details of railway projects for Karnataka emerged on Friday with the Indian Railways releasing the Pink Book detailing out allocations for various projects. The huge allocation of funds towards railway safety in Karnataka and electrification of tracks stand out in the 2017-2018 budget. Passenger amenities though have been sidetracked. The details of allocations for the South Western Railway Zone were made public following the release of the Pink Book in Parliament on Friday.

An amount of Rs 724.26 crore has been allocated for the Rail Safety Fund (Rashtriya Rail Sanraksh Kosh) out of the overall budgetary allocation of Rs 3,174 crore, giving a boost to passenger safety in the light of a spate of derailments across the country in the last few months.

Citing the increase in allocation, a statement from the South Western Railway said, “For the year 2016-2017, an amount of Rs 445.15 crore was allocated for the Safety Fund.”

There have been no new trains sanctioned though there was a demand for at least one additional train on the packed Bengaluru-Mysuru section.

The Rs 1,211.75 crore sanctioned for electrification works across the zone is a big step towards improving the traction (pulling power) of the trains (break-up given in box).

“The diesel-run trains will switch to electric which will ensure efficient running of trains,” said Chief Administrative Officer, South Western Railway, Ashok Gupta.

The only new line sanctioned is between Gadag and Yalvigi which is expected to cost Rs 640 crore.

Another new 98-km line between Shivamogga and Ranebennur has been proposed. However, the Rs 1,700 crore funding for it has to be mobilised by forming a joint venture with the state government.

A sum Rs 1,629.6 crore have been sanctioned for ongoing track doubling works. Major allocations among them are Rs 344 crore  for Hotgi-Kudgi-Gadag; Rs 200 crore for Hubballi-Chikkajajur; Rs 140 crore for Arasikere-Tumakuru and Rs 120 crore for Yelahanka-Penukonda lines.

An official release said that surveys for new lines in future will be undertaken on the following 9 routes: Badami-Yelburga via Gajendragarh (53 km); Alamatti-Koppal (125 km); Dharmavaram-Ballari (120 km); Bidar-Nanded (157 km); Swamihalli-Rayadurga (45 km); Hassan-Belur-Chikkamagalur-Sringeri-Shivamogga (150 km); Hindupur-Chitradurga (132 km); Challakere-Hiriyur-Huliyar-Chikkanayakanahalli-Turuvekere-Channarayapatna (200 km) and Thalassery-Mysuru (300 km). A survey for a 47-km third line between Whitefield and Bangarpet has also been okayed.

Major chunk of the allocations have been made to line doubling, including Hubballi-Vasco-da-Gama, ₹250 crore; Hotgi-Gadag, ₹138 crore; Hubballi-Chikkajajur (Bengaluru line), ₹198 crore, Arsikere-Tumakuru, ₹138 crore and Yelahanka-Penukonda, ₹120 crore under South Western Railway (SWR).

Some of the new line works too got a boost, including Rayadurg-Tumakuru, ₹81 crore; Bagalkot-Kudachi, ₹50 crore; Tumakuru-Chitradurga-Davangere, ₹30 crore, Hassan-Bengaluru, ₹79 crore and Gadag-Wadi, ₹40 crore. Of the total allocation of ₹3,146 crore to SWR, ₹331.8 crore are earmarked for new lines; ₹309.6 crore for doubling and ₹59 crore for traffic facilities.

A new line between Gadag and Yalvigi (58 km) is sanctioned, though a token ₹1 crore is allocated for it.

Despite fervent demands to operationalise the new divisional office announced at Kalaburgi, only ₹1 lakh has been earmarked for creation of facilities under Solapur division of Central Railway.

Under South Central Railway, ongoing new line works of Kalaburagi-Bidar got ₹50 crore; Raichur-Mahabubnagar ₹200 crore and Kadapa-Bengaluru (Bangarpet) ₹150 crore. Doubling of Daund-Kalaburgi and electrification of Pune-Guntakal got ₹200 crore. Patch doubling between Mangaluru Junction and Panambur under Southern Railway got ₹92 crore while doubling between Netravathi Cabin and Mangaluru Central (1.5 km) got ₹5 crore.

Meanwhile, there is a push for rail electrification in the State, with Chikkabanavara-Hubballi (456 km); Chikkajajur-Ballari (184 km); Gadag-Hotgi (284 km) and Bengaluru-Omalur via Hosur (196 km) proposed to be added to the electrification network without earmarking any funds. Guntakal-Ballari-Hosapet got ₹66 crore; Hosapete-Vasco got ₹88 crore and Miraj-Londa got ₹22 crore.

Sunil Kulkarni and Sanjeev Dyamannavar from Rail advocacy groups regretted SWR got meagre allocation (₹3,146 crore) compared to neighbouring zones — Central Railway, ₹6419 crore; South Central Railway, ₹5,598 crore and Southern Railway, ₹5,785 crore. Maharashtra, home State of Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, is witnessing windfall, they said. K.N. Krishna Pasad, a rail enthusiast, welcomed higher allocation to Tumakuru-Hubballi line doubling and Tumakuru-Davangere new line.

Third coaching terminal for Bengaluru

Taking forward its proposal to decongest Bengaluru city and Yeshwantpur terminals, the Ministry of Railways has allocated ₹32 crore for the third coaching terminal at Byappanahalli.

The Pink Book of the Railways released on Friday pegs the total cost of the terminal at ₹116 crore. The work is expected to be completed in three years.

Sanjeev Dyamannavar from Prajaa Raag, rail advocacy group, regretted no beginning was made for Bengaluru Suburban Rail Project.