Bengaluru’s traffic jams are infamous. And many believe that the way to solve this mess is by reducing the number of vehicles on road and increasing the usage of mass transport systems. Over the years, the number of vehicles have increased and the average vehicular speeds have gone down as low as 4 km per hour. While there is much talk about whether or not the controversial 100 km long elevated corridor should be built, and while the metro railway expansion is going on at snail pace, the much-awaited suburban rail project is yet to take off.
Re-iterating the demand for a revamped and efficient suburban railway service in Bengaluru similar to those in Mumbai and Chennai, hundreds of activists joined in a symbolic train ride on Friday. Activists of Citizens for Bengaluru (CfB), which also spearheaded the Steel Flyover Beda campaign, assembled at the Yeshwanthpur station to board a Hosur bound train leaving at 2.55 pm. In addition, local citizen groups joined the Modalu Train Beku (First, give us trains) campaign from their nearest railway stations.
On the train, one could reach Yeshwantpur to Carmelaram – a journey of 31 km – in flat 45 minutes for Rs 20. The same journey in a cab would take at least two hours.
At present, the existing railway tracks in and around Bengaluru are underused and services are not user friendly.
On Friday, the usually vacant railway stations, a majority of which are without proper access and even platforms on both sides, saw festive scenes with residents gathering in large numbers with placards and chanting slogans stating the importance of trains.
#ModaluTrainBeku campaign with 100s joining in each station. Stations look like village stations, not befitting a big city! No way to get off the train in Heelalige, have to jump off! Plain unsafe for passengers. Shame @RailMinIndia @PiyushGoyal @hd_kumaraswamy @DrParameshwara https://t.co/CMu4VWwxwF— Tara (@tarauk) August 31, 2018
Return trip (decided to go by road to compare):— Amogh Arakali (@amogharakali) August 31, 2018
About 35 min walk to Wipro office (the closest place where my cab hailing app was working). Couldn’t spot any autos on the way.
12 minutes wait for a cab. Currently in the cab heading back. #ModaluTrainBeku #ModaluRailBeku
Groups which participated in the exercise included Praja RAAG, Karnataka Rail Prayanikara Vedike, Tumakuru Rail Prayanikara Vedike, Whitefield Rising, Carmelaram Unites, Bellandur Jothege, Bangalore Apartment Federation, Citizens Agenda for Bengaluru.
Ahead of the Friday’s drive, IT major Wipro and and the the Electronic City Industries Association had also endorsed the campaign.
For some time now, citizens have pressurised the political class to prioritise on the underused and quick fix solution to the infamous traffic mess in Bengaluru.
Friday’s rail yatra was modelled on a similar drive held in December 2016, as a part of the Chuku Buku Beku campaign which resulted in both the BJP at the Centre and Congress at the state to make allocations for suburban rail in both state and Union budgets.
But after an initial spell of announcements of new suburban trains, work on the ground has not progressed while the government is seen active to build a controversial 100-km network of elevated corridor.