Activists in Bengaluru are unhappy with the progress of suburban railway works carried out by South Western Railway in the last one year with Bengaluru zone MPs set to meet with rail officials as part of the yearly zonal meeting on September 28.
While there have been no positive developments regarding their decades-old demand for a special purpose vehicle (SPV) for the suburban rail system, they claim that there has been no increase in services over the years even though capacity has expanded. An SPV is an entity that would operate independently of South Western Railway, which currently oversees suburban rails.
Sanjeev Dhyamanar, an urban transport expert and a long-time suburban rail crusader, said, “The MPs should question the rail officials as to why there has been so much delay. There is no reason for delays in constructing the third coaching terminal, doubling and electrification of Yesvantpur - Hosur line and building a halt station at Doddanekundi. “
He added, “There has been no introduction of new trains even though automatic signalling works have been completed in the Whitefield-Cantonment section, and even Banaswadi-Hosur and Banaswadi-Whitefield trains have not been reintroduced after they were withdrawn during infrastructural upgrades.”
Other than these, activists want the MPs to question officials over delay in works related to creating a terminal for suburban rail at Cantonment Station, which was first announced in 2017.
Another citizen collective, Bengaluru Suburban Rail Users, has been running an online campaign across social media platforms to urge elected representatives to take up their cause. In recent months, they have been meeting and petitioning MPs and MLAs to expedite the works.
In their petition, which they have submitted to General Manager of SWR Ajay Kumar Singh as well, they ask for local trains at a 15-minute interval during peak hours in all seven corridors, as opposed to the lack of uniform timings that currently hinders the system.
“We have discussed with various experts, and it's possible to run trains on every corridor once every 15 mins with some simple rearrangement of priorities. If the goods trains are all sent to the night times, and priority given to local trains over long distance trains, this is very easy to do. It requires optimisation of the existing infra, and now that automatic signalling is also getting completed in most corridors, a well equipped Central Control Room is all that is required to ensure that each route can run up to one train every 5 if not 3 mins,” Sandeep Anirudhan, Core Team - Bengaluru Suburban Rail Users said.
Their other demands include ensuring easy access to the railway station by means of footpaths and subways connecting to nearby bus stands, and metro station.
On Thursday, the group met Bengaluru Central MP PC Mohan and submitted their petition. They said that the MP had reacted positively and promised to discuss the technical feasibility of their demands.