The project has been a key demand for various citizen groups over the past decade.

A local train on tracks near BengaluruRepresentational image| Pixcy/ Lakshmiprasad
news Transport Thursday, October 08, 2020 - 08:45

After decades of political dilly-dallying, the Union cabinet finally approved the dedicated suburban railway service for Bengaluru on Wednesday, sources confirmed. The formal announcement of the same has been deferred on account of the RR Nagar bye-polls set to be held on November 4. The project for long has been advocated as a fix to solve Bengaluru's perennial traffic problem as the number of private vehicles in the city continues to soar year after year. The project had remained a key demand for various citizen groups over the past decade.

The network of close to 150-km long will have four corridors 1) Bengaluru City (Majestic/KSR)-Devanahalli (Airport) 2) Byappanahalli-Yeshwantpur- Chikkabanavara 3)Kengeri-Cantonment-Whitefield 4) Heelalige-Byappanahalli- Rajanukunte.

Wednesday’s development comes close to six months after Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had assured that the union government will shortly sanction the funds while addressing reporters in Bengaluru. In November 2019, the  Extended Railway Board (ERB) of the Indian Railways had also okayed the project.

The Union government had said that they will cover 20% of the total project cost which is estimated to be around Rs 18,000 crore in the national budget. The state government will bear 20% of the project cost while the remaining 60% will be raised through external agencies. The project was also mentioned by late Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his budget speech for financial year 2018-2019.

Compared to the slow expansion of the metro network, the work is likely to get over fast given many of the stations already have some sort of basic infrastructure ready and most of the work involves laying of tracks in railway land.

Ridership to be more than that of the Metro

According to a pre-feasibility study conducted by  Rail India Technical and Economic Service (RITES), the ridership in this dedicated rail service will be double of the pre-COVID-19 Metro’s (4.5 lakh) daily ridership.

RITES had estimated the daily trips in these routes can touch up to 9 lakh+ (9,28,432) by 2025. In 2031 and 2041, the daily ridership could even go higher up to daily trips touching 12 lakh+ (12,41,283) and 16 lakh+ (16,83,177), RITES had found.