SWR to request State Govt to part with 40 acres of NGEF land in Byappanahalli for suburban train services

BANGALORE: The Southwestern Railway (SWR) has decided to request the state government to part with 40 acres of the sprawling New Government Electric Factory (NGEF) land in Byappanahalli to build stabling lines and other infrastructure for suburban train services close to its maintenance shed.

The SWR plans to introduce MEMU (mainline electric multiple unit) rakes for suburban services.The existing suburban trains too will be converted into MEMU services. The SWR already has a MEMU maintenance shed at Banaswadi but will require more land to build stabling lines to park the MEMU units. And, it has spotted the NGEF land.

“We have verbally communicated our requirement at a recent meeting with Bengaluru city development minister KJ George.We will now be following it up with a for mal request to the government,” said RS Saxena, divisional railway manager (DRM), Bangalore Division.

The NGEF, which once made electric motors, switch gears and other products, is today left with about 119 acres. Earlier, portions of the NGEF land was used to build metro depot and the station. KSRTC & BMTC too have built depots and bus stands on its land. The railway authorities hope a portion of this land could be used for the suburban train project.

At Banaswadi, the railways has one pit-line for handling maintenance. The second pit-line requires electrification work. The pit-lines are of eight-coach length and the railways will be expanding them for 12 coaches. The Southwestern Railway has also written to the Railway Board seeking permission to extend the pit and the track as also overhead electrification. Both pit-lines will be functional for taking up proper maintenance, said Saxena.

“However, pending the sanction and execution of work, we will make some arrangement to introduce MEMU suburban services. The railways will convert conventional coaches (rakes) into MEMU (rakes).“

Tumakuru, Mandya and Bangarpet, in different sectors, are ideal destinations to run MEMU services from Bengaluru. Though a RITES report favoured stabling lines at these destinations, the railway authorities feel it is better to have everything in one place at Banaswadi because of the advantages it provides.

Setting up stabling facilities at these three places means the railways will have maintenance facility at one place and stabling at other locations. This would pose problems. Instead, officials say, having stabling lines closer to maintenance facility will ensure access to maintenance spares.There will be other advantages such as better availability of rakes with no loss of trips.

According to railway officials, one or two rakes are expected in about two months after which they will replace the existing services with MEMU ones where demand is high. MEMU trains, according to the DRM, will lead to improved turnaround time and consequently better on-time performance.