Mysore (MYS): The track doubling works between Ramangaram and Mysuru railway line is almost ready and is likely to be commissioned in August or September this year.
But if you think there will be more train services between Bengaluru and Mysuru, then you are wrong. The highly congested platforms in Bengaluru and Mysuru have become a major constraint for the South Western Railways to press more trains into service. Till the Baiyappanahalli yard gets upgraded, with more platforms to roll out new trains, the Bengaluru City Station is not going to be decongested.
Development of the Baiyappanahalli station is still a long way to go – plans to make it world-class has remained on paper, with no fund support.
At present, all the 10 tracks of the Bengaluru station are occupied all the time. The situation is no different at the Mysuru station, which has six tracks. Construction of a suburban station in Mysuru is still in the early stages.
According to Sanjiv Agarwal, Divisional Railway Manager, it may take two to three years to get the work on the Baiyappanahalli station going. “We developed the Yeshwantpur station to offset the traffic at Bengaluru station. But we can’t run trains to Mysuru from Yeshwantpur. I can push more trains to Mysuru, provided the Bengaluru station is decongested, which is not going to happen soon,” he said.
In this year’s Railway Budget, a provision has been made to run three more passenger trains between Bengaluru and Ramangaram. “Besides these trains, there is no plan to run additional trains immediately. The maximum passenger rush from Bengaluru is up to Ramangaram. Traffic tapers as we move away from Bengaluru suburb,“ he said.
At present, brisk work is on at the Byadarahalli and Pandavapura stations. Translocation of the Tipu Sultan armoury will begin only after November. So, trains will move on a single track on this one-km stretch till the work is over.
A railway officer, who did not like to be named, said that during peak hours in the morning and evening, the passenger traffic was very high. With the platforms already clogged, it is better to introduce a double-decker as is being done between Chennai-Bengaluru. The line requires chair car trains, too, he pointed out. Due to non-availability of electrification, once the trains which run on electricity enter this track, they have to switch over to fossil fuel engines. This is leading to wastage of time as well as pollution.
M Ravindranath Reddy, chief engineer, Construction, SWR, said new trains would be introduced, provided there was a demand from the public. The railways took up doubling and electrification as the State government wanted it. Hence the work is being carried out on a cost-sharing basis. Fares are so cheap that the railways is incurring a heavy loss. The operational cost is about 50 paise a km per passenger, while the realisation is not more than 30 paise, he said.
Plans are afoot to decongest the Mysuru tracks by providing a bypass from here to the Hassan track to move goods trains, Reddy said.
As per the present schedule, doubling of the existing single track should be completed in the next couple of months, while electrification work may not be completed before next March. The length of the track is 138.25 km, and work on 28 km is yet to be completed.
Electrification of the track is still lagging behind with the work not being completed beyond Bengaluru-Kengeri, which was energised five years ago. Reddy said that with double-tracking, 30 to 35 pairs of trains could be run on a daily basis. At present, 24 pairs of trains are pressed into service. More goods trains could be run, as they bring in more revenue.
The acquisition of 160 acres, especially 25 acres in Mandya, for doubling the track and improving select stations between Ramangaram and Mysuru, has pushed up the project cost. The project was sanctioned in 2009-10. And, so far, it has not been completed, as there is no deadline as such.
At the time of conceiving the project, the estimated cost was Rs 505 crore. Later, it was revised to Rs 526.31 crore, and now, it stands at Rs 874.75 crore.