One tricky acre of land stalls Cantonment-Whitefield rail project

Lakhs of techies in the city are eagerly awaiting for two tracks to be laid beside the existing ones on the Cantonment to Whitefield railway line.

BENGALURU: Lakhs of techies in the city are eagerly awaiting for two tracks to be laid beside the existing ones on the Cantonment to Whitefield railway line. This, after the Railway Budget for 2018-’19, announced that the line would be quadrupled. However, the South Western Railways’ need for one-acre of land is what has stalled the progress of the project. “Lines being quadrupled is the basic foundation for suburban rails. The capacity of running trains will increase by 400 per cent if the project is completed. We can go from Cantonment to Whitefield in 20-25 minutes.

Now, it takes 45 to 50 minutes by train and far more by road,” says Bhavin G, a techie, who has been keenly following developments of the suburban rail since 2013. “From what I understand, a letter of intent has to be given by Karnataka government for want of land,” he adds.

He has filed two RTIs on the matter, and is yet to receive a concrete response. The Railway Board approved the project in March, bringing cheer to IT commuters. Four months on, and the need for land has caused a delay in the project’s commencement. Once the work begins, it will take two-three years for completion. It is estimated that 62,000 passengers will benefit from the move. Majority of them are from the IT sector who commute this route on a daily basis.

Namratha Nayak, a techie who travels a distance of 25 km on a daily basis, says, “I used to take a train from KR Puram to Whitefield but due to delays and infrequent services, I switched to road transport. And that takes me two hours. The issue with taking the train was that if even if one train does not arrive on time, it results in a delay in reaching work.” Which is why, she’s started a petition on in March to extend the Banaswadi-Hosur suburban trains till Yeshwantpur, and  has also been campaigning for suburban rail services for Bengaluru. “If the train service is on time, it wouldn’t take me more than 40 minutes to reach office. Now, I take a BMTC bus from Horamavu to ITPL, and another to Inorbit Mall. The sooner they quadruple the lines, the better for us,” Namratha says.

When asked about the status of the project, which has been sanctioned at Rs.492.87 crores, a railway official told,” We are calling for tenders now. We have 90 per cent of the land. Another 10 per cent is required from the state. This is likely to be solved soon.”Chief public relations officer of South Western Railway, E Vijaya, says, “Tender for earthing work has been called, and is due to open next month. Land is required at two locations, amounting to a total of one acre. Acquisition is in process for the same.”