With the approval of a dedicated suburban rail project for Bengaluru like those in Mumbai and Chennai overdue for decades, a city group has approached Indian Railways to run some services on existing infrastructure.
The group Citizens for Citizens (C4C) has proposed that since much of the rail infrastructure is lying idle due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, the same can be optimally used to increase revenues for the Railways and also help Bengaluru with its congestion.
One of the only gains of the lockdown was the improved air quality in Bengaluru, which had dropped to normal levels with the decreased usage of public transport.
C4C through its convenor Rajkumar Dugar recently submitted a petition to this effect to the Divisional Railway Manager, South Western Railways, Bengaluru Division, Ashok Kumar Verma. A copy of the same has been sent to Union Railways Minister Piyush Goyal as well.
Speaking to TNM, Rajkumar Dugar said, “I was speaking to the staff of High Grounds Traffic Police and they said that with less public transport, the congestion levels are again almost back to normal. In trains, physical distancing is possible to a greater degree compared to buses. And they can prove to be cheaper and faster. Post COVID-19, the railway infrastructure is not being used as it was before, and the same is truer for long distance routes, so a lot of resources are lying idle. With this there is a problem of revenue reduction and that will remain for some time now. So what we propose is a win-win solution wherein you can run local trains within 100-km radius of Bengaluru.”
He added, “With this, we will not only reduce congestion and pollution in the city but the Railways also can generate some revenue. Even if the dedicated project gets approved now, the best case scenario will mean that the services can only start by 2026. There is huge demand for these services.”
In the petition, the group noted that five routes, if operated in a loop, will prove beneficial to not only city residents for their daily commute and help ease congestion but also help those living in nearby towns who come regularly to the city for their livelihoods.
“1. Tumakuru – Hosur, 2. Ramanagaram – Bangarpet, 3. Cantonment – Devanahalli (will double up as Airport Train as soon as Airport Halt Station is soon ready), 4. Majestic to Yelahanka via Byappanahalli, and 5. Yelahanka to Majestic via Yesvantpur. The last two should complement each other to form a Ring Railway Service,” the petition said.
The petition further said that the exact starting and ending stations and timings should be worked out based on all relevant factors that are known to the Railways. These will help Bengaluru by reducing traffic congestion and pollution too, while making local travel easy, comfortable and economic for people living in and around Bengaluru, while also helping the Railways use the infrastructure better, the letter read.