Transport
More than 9 lakh people are estimated to use the suburban rail by 2025 every day, according to a pre-feasibility report by the Rail India Technical and Economic Service.
Sanjeev Dhyamanavr

The long-awaited suburban train network for Bengaluru especially in the congested Outer Ring Road areas of the city is soon going to be a reality. And if the pre-feasibility report by the Rail India Technical and Economic Service (RITES) is to be believed, it will see more than double the daily ridership of Bengaluru metro (with a total of 17 six-car trains running per hour) in its existing form by 2025.

According to estimates made by RITES, the daily trips in these routes can touch up to 9,28,432 by 2025. In 2031 and 2041, the daily ridership could even go higher up to daily trips touching 12,41,283 and 16,83,177, the report said.

The routes that have been proposed by RITES after a drone-based aerial survey are:

a) Kengeri – Bengaluru City – Whitefield — 35 km

b) Bengaluru City – Yelahanka – Rajankunti — 27 km

c) Nelamangala – Mathikere – Baiyyappanahalli—39 km   

d) Heelalige – Yelahanka – Devanahalli— 60 km

These routes in total will form a 161 km strong network with stations spaced at an average of 1.8 km from each other. The cost of the entire project has been pegged at Rs 19,500 crore.

Currently, the average daily ridership of the Bangalore Metro Transport Corporation (BMTC) is pegged at around 45 lakh while Namma Metro in its existing form has an average ridership of 4 lakh along 42 km of its existing network.

Out of the total 81 stations planned, 12 of these will have intermodal connectivity with metro stations and another five stations having interconnectivity among the suburban rail network.

The basic infrastructure for these routes already exists with some 52 stations requiring platforms to be built and in some cases doubling or quadrupling of tracks. Once the funds are allocated, officials said that work can begin in phases and services can be increased based on demand as early as end of 2020.

According to sources, the state government is also going to give its inputs suggesting minor changes to the proposal by RITES and work will begin before the Lok Sabha elections.

There have been a series of meetings between the Karnataka Chief Secretary and railway officials in this regard and most of the issues have been agreed between the state and Railways.  

Activists who for long have been crusading for such an addition to the public transport system, finally feel that the special purpose vehicle like the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation (BMRCL) will also see the light of day.

The formation of SPV is necessary for swift allocation and utilization of funds for multiple projects.

A month after RITES submitted a feasibility report identifying four full-fledged suburban train routes in Bengaluru, Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy had signaled the long-awaited project will get the state government’s push.

Speaking in Delhi on December 27, following his meeting with Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, he said that Chief Secretary Vijay Bhaskar has been given instructions to clear necessary paperwork. He also announced that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be invited to lay the foundation stone of the project.