ROW issue halts Electrification of Mysuru-Bengaluru section

MYSURU: Plans to introduce Mainline Electric Multiple Unit (MEMU) train services between Mysuru and Bengaluru to cut travel time between the two cities has received a setback as the Right of Way (RoW) issue has stalled Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation Ltd. (KPTCL) from laying a 220 kv power transmission line to feed the electrified tracks.

The KPTCL was supposed to lay a 4 km power transmission line from Yeliyuru sub-station to Tubinakere in Mandya district to feed the main track in the absence of which the South Western Railway cannot operate MEMU services.

The S.W.Railway authorities had anticipated the completion of the track electrification works (which was completed in February 2018) and had deposited around ₹13.09 crore with the KPTCL way back in March 2017 to take up the work.

“Almost 15 months later the work was yet to be completed and has delayed the introduction of electric services,” said a senior official who is well-versed with the developments.

However, Nityanand, Chief Engineer, KPTCL in Mysuru told that the work on laying the transmission line has already commenced. But progress was impeded by the RoW issue as the lines have to be drawn over private lands.

Farmers’ demands

“Farmers are not specific and are quoting random figures for compensation and this is too steep compared to the prevailing market rates,” said Mr. Nityanand. But he sounded optimistic that the issue could be sorted out in a few months’ time.

The inordinate delay in ensuring adequate power supply to the railways has affected the plans of introducing additional electric train services on the Mysuru-Bengaluru section though the stretch was inaugurated in February this year.

Crucial meeting

Meanwhile, a crucial meeting of the authorities has been convened on June 19 in Bengaluru to thrash out the issue in a bid to expedite the process. Sources in the railways said that it will be attended by senior officials from the South Western Railways, Infrastructure Development Department, Government of Karnataka, Chief Project Director, Railway Electrification, etc.

Besides the imperatives of ensuring power supply on the Mysuru-Bengaluru section, the meeting will discuss traction power supply for Hospet-Bellary-Guntakal, Kozhikode-Mangaluru and Hospet-Hubballi-Vasco Da Gama sections and the meeting will be chaired by the Additional Chief Secretary, Infrastructure Development Department.

The outcome of the meeting is critical to expedite the pending works and with respect to the Mysuru-Bengaluru project, as it was on February 19, 2018 that Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged off the inaugural run of an electric service on the completion of the track electrification work. This shored up hopes of faster train services between the two cities.

At present 30 pairs of trains ply between the two cities but most of them are long-distance services that do not serve the daily commuters. And not all are hauled by electric locomotives. Sources said only MEMU services with better acceleration can serve daily commuters better.

The railway authorities are now pinning their hopes on the State government to resolve the RoW issue as it is also a stakeholder, having contributed nearly ₹ 110 crore for the ₹ 220 crore electrification project.