BANGALORE: Dozens of volunteers held a rail yatra on Friday to raise awareness about the city’s rail network, calling on the government to develop suburban railways and prioritise public transit as a solution to traffic congestion and pollution throughout the city.
The participants travelled from Yeshwantpur to Heelalige and back over the course of four hours, chanting and waving posters.
The campaign, ‘#ModaluTrainBeku’, was initiated by Citizens for Bengaluru (CfB) and supported by 30 other organisations witnessing participation by about 100 like-minded citizens.
It is a revitalisation of the 2016 #ChukuBukuBeku campaign, an earlier awareness demonstration. Unlike new and often costly projects — such as widening roads and constructing flyovers — further development of the city’s existing railways is a cheaper, faster, and eco-friendlier solution to Bengaluru’s mass transit troubles, the campaign argues.
The city’s train network covers most parts of the IT corridor, including places such as Bellandur, Sarjapur, and Carmelaram. The Friday’s train yatra travelled outbound through Yeshwantpur, Lottegollahalli, Hebbal, Banaswadi, Bellandur, Karmelaram, and Heelalige stations, reaching Heelalige within 1.5 hours.
Narendranath Babu, a software engineer and member of a local rail group, who commuted along this route for two years when working in Electronic City said: “It used to take 45 minutes in the morning to reach Heelalige, and then there’s a shuttle bus that takes us to the Electronic City. So we are encouraging people to take this train.”
Babu urged the local authorities to reactivate existing train lines and increase the frequency of trains to prevent the congestion of roads and train cars.
“There’s a complete, double electrified line that is running from Yelahanka to Whitefield. Yelahanka connects to Yeshwantpur. They’re not using this line to run trains. A lot of people from Yelahanka, they come to Hebbal and take the Outer Ring Road, which gets back-choked in the morning. So that’s a route that has not been exploited yet. The Yeshwantpur train as well leaves at 6:30 am, and still, you see people using it. If there’s another train by 9 am, we’ll see a lot of people shifting to train.”
The yatra return train from Heelalige — originally scheduled for 5:15 pm — arrived one hour late.
According to the pages of complaints logged in the Heelalige station comments book, late trains are a common occurrence. Many regular commuters told the that this irregularity is a major reason most people avoid taking the train: it’s unreliable.
Others voiced concerns about the condition of the trains and stations themselves.