“This seems like just an excuse not to run the trains,” an activist said.

Two Banaswadi-Hosur suburban trains suspended for 5 months activists angry
news Transport Sunday, May 27, 2018 - 15:56

Bengaluru activists are wary, as two newly introduced trains between Banaswadi and Hosur (DEMU 06571/06572 and 06573/06574) have been cancelled for the next five months. The railways have cited maintenance works of the tracks for cancelling the trains – however, activists say that this will be a big problem for commuters.

“They are saying they need time for maintenance of tracks. We had asked them to do the work on Saturdays as most people do not work on Saturdays and Sundays. Moreover they can easily apply more resources – manpower and machines – to hasten the process. Five months is a long time. The trains were getting traction, now if people are forced to again look for alternatives, they might not come back,” Sanjeev Dymanavar, a long-time crusader of suburban trains and an urban mobility expert, told TNM.

“This is now a setback. There were demands of extending this train to Yeshwantpur. At least they could have easily extended it till Hebbal. Instead of improving, they are downgrading the whole process,” he added.

“This seems like just an excuse not to run the trains. Something similar had occurred in the Bengaluru-Nelamangala, Yeshwantpur-Nelamangala line after they opened the Hasaan line. Instead of adjusting the timings, they just shut the service,” he said.

These trains were among the eight new suburban trains launched in March.

Revamping of Bengaluru’s suburban railway system to ease the city’s infamous traffic mess has been a longstanding demand of civic activists. But the renewed citizen activism in the form of ‘Chuku Buku Beku’ campaign in December, 2016 had proved to be the gamechanger.

Following this, a lot of new trains had been announced and some of them had started running since March including these two.

The BJP which is in power at the Centre and in the opposition in the state had made suburban trains a part of its poll pitch to woo the electorate in the recently concluded Assembly polls. The suburban railway had also found a mention in the Congress manifesto too.

The previous state government in its last budget had approved Rs 350 crore towards suburban railways while the Centre too had made significant contribution in the union budget after much delay.

Presently, the suburban rail project is being implemented on a cost sharing basis between the Government of Karnataka and Ministry of Railways.

Bengaluru civic activists insisted that the 40 railway stations and 180 km of tracks in Bengaluru should be used by the government to strengthen the railway service, instead of spending money on adding buses or extending metro services. They argue that rail connectivity can be achieved much faster by using existing tracks and at a fraction of the cost of building a metro.

To the ease of suburban rail users, the SWR also allowed ticketing on its UTS (unreserved ticketing) mobile app in February.

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