Bangalore: Providing a train service up to the Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) could be a better and cheaper alternative to the controversial steel flyover, but the state government seems to have taken little effort to seriously consider the prospect.
Many meetings took place between officials of the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA), the Urban Development Department and the South Western Railway (SWR) over the past year on providing rail connectivity to the KIA, but none resulted in a concrete decision on the project.
Developing a rail link to the airport was one of the initial plans of the government, the SWR and the Bangalore International Airport Ltd (BIAL), as it is a cheaper and faster mode of transport. The SWR took a unilateral decision in 2003-04 to develop the Devanahalli railway station and run special buses from the airport.
The places are just 5 kilometres apart. The railways offered to run train services between Channasandra (near Ramamurthy Nagar and KR Puram in eastern Bengaluru) and Devanahalli stations.
At present, the single track between the two stations is underutilised. Sanjiv Agarwal, Divisional Railway Manager, Bengaluru, told that the track could be doubled and later electrified. The project will cost no more than Rs 250 crore. The number of rakes can be determined depending on the number of passengers. Each rake costs Rs 30-35 crore, he said.
Agarwal, however, said that rail connectivity to the airport from the city centre was a challenge as the track between Bengaluru City and Yelahanka stations was over-occupied.
“It is the main track for long-distance trains. There is also shortage of space in the yard to house more trains. But that is not the case from Channasandra,” he added.
Traffic expert M N Sreehari said that since railway stations were ready, a train service from Channasandra to Devanahalli could certainly help airport-bound travellers from eastern Bengaluru. To start with, he said, the single track can be used since train traffic is low.
But the chief minister seems to have ignored the cheaper modes of transport. Rail services from Hebbal and Yeshwantpur can also be introduced, Sreehari added.