Union Budget 2017-18: Not much expectations for Bangalore Suburban Rail in this Budget too: Proponents

BANGALORE:  Every year, advocates of suburban rail services eagerly hope for some allocation and development of the project in the Union Railway Budget. However, they have been disappointed every time.

Going by past experiences, this year, supporters of the suburban rail project have very little expectations from the Union Budget despite a lot of developments taking place on the ground and an MoU being signed between the state and the Centre.

Sanjeev V Dyamannavar from Praja RAAG, an advocacy group, said, “I am not expecting anything major in this direction from the Centre as there is no clarity in the cost-sharing among the two governments. Also, a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) is yet to be formed.”

He further added, “But if they make some allocation that will create the foundation for a commuter rail, we will be content with it. Funds are required for Byappanahalli terminal which will take the load off the City railway station.

Doubling of Yeshwantpur, Banaswadi and Hosur lines at the cost of `600 crore has been pending for a while now and the budget should have something for that. We also have Yeshwantpur-Tumakuru line electrification pending which was initially part of Bengaluru-Hubballi line electrification.

Once that is done, they will be able run MEMU services. Most importantly, we need road overbridges (ROB’s) and eliminate all the unmanned crossings.”

Another advocate, who did not wish to be identified, pointed out, “I have absolutely no expectations in this regard from the budget. The MoU said 20 per cent of the cost will be borne by the state government, 20 per cent by the railways and the  rest will be raised through loans.

However, the state government has not taken any steps to create a SPV. Nobody wants to take the initiative, as, in other cities, the suburban rails are running in loss. They are looking to make profits out of it rather than make it a public utility service.”

However, there are a few people who are hoping for some allocation for commuter trains.

“I have a lot of expectations. After the MoU is signed, allocations of funds and work kicking off is something that Bengaluru is eagerly expecting from this budget,” said Srinidhi from Praja RAAG