Metro Line to Bengaluru Airport: Central funding brightens the prospects!

Proposal to link Metro to airport inches forward. The state government plans to link Namma Metro to the airport under Phase II(B).Sources said Bengaluru development minister K J George shared details about it with Jayant Sinha, Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation.

Bangalore: The confusion surrounding the metro rail link to Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) finally seems to have been cleared with the Centre agreeing to fund the project costing ₹6,000 crore.

The cost would be shared on a 50:50 basis by the Union and the State governments.

Minister for Bengaluru Development K.J. George and Union Minister of State for Aviation Jayant Sinha discussed at a meeting on Friday various routes that could connect the city and the KIA.

Mr. George told reporters that nine such alternative routes have been identified by RITES Ltd., an engineering consultancy company. After finalising a route, a proposal seeking the Centre’s funding would be submitted to the Union Aviation Ministry. The route would be finalised after consultations with all stakeholders, he said.

The shortest one is the 25.9-km stretch from Nagawara via Kannur and Bagalur, which could take four years for completion. The longest is the 35.4-km stretch from Yeshwantpur via Yelahanka, Kannur and Bagalur that could take four years to complete at an estimated cost of ₹7,080 crore. Covering 30 km, the link is estimated to cost Rs 6,000 crore. The Metro authorities maintain Phase II will be done by 2020. There is no word yet on when Phase II(B) will be taken up or completed. The project has missed several deadlines.

The Centre recently approved 18 km of Metro Phase II(A) between Silk Board and K R Puram.

The government had not decided whether the Metro link to the airport would be implemented under Phase II or III. Sinha was in Bengaluru to discuss better connectivity to the airport in view of the fast-increasing air traffic in the city. Earlier, the State government planned to construct a high-speed rail link from M.G. Road to the KIA. However, the proposal was put in cold storage and the responsibility was given to Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. officials to explore metro link.

The Centre has also agreed to fund the suburban railway of the city, which would connect the nearest towns in and around Bengaluru. The estimated cost of this project is ₹360 crore, Mr. George said.

1,300 responses for preferred route

The call for public consultation on the preferred route connecting the city and the KIA gathered 1,300 responses till the deadline of November 30 which Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation had set. A total of nine routes had been shared with the public, out of which they were asked to choose the one they thought was the most preferred option.

Five of these routes are extensions to the Nagawara line which is part of Phase II that connects Gottigere on Bannerghatta Road to Nagawara via Jayadeva flyover and M.G. Road. Other possible routes begin from Yeshwantpur, M.G. Road (via Mehkri Circle) and K.R. Puram. These would provide connectivity to Hebbal, Yelahanka and Yelahanka Old Town.

Several respondents also said that studies should be done at the airport-end of the stretch, and their results should be factored in, as passengers who arrive at the KIA too would use these services.

The Bengaluru Metro Rail Corporation has proposed nine routes to the airport from Nagawara, and invited public opinion to select one of them.

BMRCL Managing Director Pradeep Singh Kharola and Bangalore Development Authority Commissioner (BDA) Rajkumar Khatri also attended the meeting.

After the meeting, George told reporters the government would submit a proposal to the Centre soon. Sinha has assured full cooperation to execute the link, he said.

Steel flyover plea

Official sources said George also sought the Centre’s co-operation to build a steel flyover between Basaveshwara Circle and Hebbal.

The proposal has run into resistance from citizens’ groups. The flyover will improve road connectivity to the airport, he contended. He also told Sinha about plans to extend the existing railway network to the airport.

HAL airport for short-haul flights?

Minister Jayant Sinha is open to the idea of using the HAL airport in Bengaluru for short-haul commercial flights, sources said.

He said he would meet officials of Bangalore International Airport Ltd and offer the HAL airport for operations, they said.

An agreement between the BIAL and the ministry of civil aviation lays down that no other civil airport will operate within a 150-km radius of the Kempegowda airport.

The HAL airport is currently being used only for military, test, chartered and VIP flights. It is open round the clock.