Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Good news for commuters in suburban areas travelling to the city

Renuka Phadnis

Four new trains announced in Railway Budget

With bustling business activity, Bangalore attracts a large number of commuters from surrounding towns, necessitating better connectivity of suburban areas and the hinterland to the city.
The announcement by Railway Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda that suburban trains will soon connect Tumkur, Ramanagaram, Nelamangala and Hosur to the city has brought cheer.
The demand for suburban trains was a long-standing one. With the city growing into a metro, one lakh people from suburban areas travel every day to Bangalore. Of them, 80 per cent are those who travel every day on Bangalore–Marikuppam, Bangalore–Tumkur and Bangalore–Channapatna routes. At present, commuters are taking various trains, including passenger, push-pull, DEMU and MEMU trains to travel to Bangalore from nearby towns.
Once the suburban trains start operating, it will benefit at least one lakh commuters every day. But officials say that the modalities will have to be worked out before that becomes a reality.
Central to the issue is the clearance required from the Railway Board to allow its infrastructure to be used to run suburban trains. In addition, more clarity is required on whether the State or the Centre will fund the suburban rail project.
Anil Agarwal, Divisional Railway Manager, Bangalore, said: “The Railway Board has to clear it and that is the main bottleneck.”
Officials are in the dark about the issue but they said meetings would be held and the project would be “put on the fast track” as Mr. Gowda had said that action be taken immediately.
Prakash Mandoth, former member of the Zonal Railway Users’ Consultative Meetings of Southern Railway, Chennai, said the announcement was “wonderful”.
Some people feel that the Railway Budget, other than mentioning that the suburban rail project should get “immediate” attention, has given no details about funding. Nor has any mention been made of setting up a special purpose vehicle (SPV) for it.
Mr. Mandoth added that the State government should now take forward the detailed project report (DPR) prepared by the Rail India Technical and Economic Service (RITES).
Muralidhar Rao, member of Praja, an organisation studying city issues, said: “Where is the fund allocation or a special purpose vehicle (SPV) for it? It is disappointing.”


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