Rs.17,000 Crore Suburban Rail project for Bengaluru sanctioned

BENGALURU:  The Centre on Thursday announced a big ticket investment – the suburban railway project – for Bengaluru to help citizens/residents of surrounding areas to commute to the IT city.

“A suburban network of approximately 160 kilometres at an estimated cost of Rs 17,000 crore is being planned to cater to the growth of the Bengaluru metropolis,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said in his General Budget speech.

The minister also announced a similar transport system for Mumbai, with an investment of Rs 40,000 crore.

Both the projects will be self-financing models, which the railways will implement through public-private partnership. Besides, the national transporter will also raise funds from its own sources through monetising its assets like land, advertisements and other sources.

Elevated lines

Of the total 160-km lines, some parts will be elevated. The new lines will come up along the existing railway routes in and around Bengaluru.

The project also involves modernising over a dozen railway stations in and around the city to provide better facilities to commuters, a senior official in the railways told DH.

The project will not only help people from surroundings areas to come to the city without hassle, but also ease the pressure in the IT city, he said.

The new lines will be laid in a such way that the national transporter should be able to run high-speed trains, which can run up to 90 to 125 km an hour, an official in the railways said.

In the project, private railway operators and developers will be engaged in different tasks for building the new railway network, the official said.

A separate special purpose vehicle (SPV) will be set up, in which the Karnataka government and Ministry of Railways are partners.

Besides contributing money for the SPV, the the state government may have to allocate land for station development as well as the rolling stock (trains) yards in the city and laying new lines, the official said.

Besides it generated Rs 11,500 crore from internal resources, Rs 28,500 crore from Indian Railways Finance Corporation, Rs 26,400 crore from LIC and investments through PPP to the tune of Rs 27,000 crore. The accompanying maintenance facilities would cost Rs 2,050 crore.

The project is proposed to be completed in three years, he said.

Connectivity, especially railways, has been given a record allocation in the Union Budget 2018.

Railways’ Capex for the year 2018-19 has been pegged at Rs 1,48,528 crore, and a large part of the Capex is devoted to capacity creation. “4,000 kilometers are targeted for commissioning during 2017-18”, he said.

Foundation for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project, India’s first high-speed rail project was laid on September 14, 2017.

Modern train-sets with the state-of-the-art amenities and features are being designed at Integrated Coach Factory, Perambur.

Stressing on technology, he said: “Our main focus will be on technology, in everything”.

Addressing a press conference here, Mr Goyal said the proposals in the budget are aimed to transform Railways into a modern, safe, green, affordable and comfortable mode of transport. CCTVs will be provided at all stations and on trains to enhance the security of passengers.

Strengthening the railway network and enhancing freight capacity have been major focus areas. It will be the first train to have Indian Railways’ food vending machine.

Bharat Salhotra, Vice President Sales and Business Development, Asia Pacific of the French giant Alstom told: “The increased capital outlay on railways to Rs 1.48 lakh crore is a positive outcome and one that spells increased opportunities for players like us”.

Railways Minister Piyush Goyal is learnt to have fixed a target of around 20 per cent reduction in the transporter’s working expenses in 2018-19 to achieve better financial health by the end of the next fiscal.

He said the government is on the “right track in spelling out its vision”. It may contain error, bugs and other limitations. Mid-day management/ reserves the sole right to alter, delete or remove (without notice) the content in its absolute discretion for any reason whatsoever.