Friday, April 1, 2016

BENGALURU: The long-awaited Electric Multiple Unit (EMU) services between Bengaluru and Ramanagaram have moved closer to reality with the Railway Ministry clearing the proposal recently.

The presence of three high tension overhead power line crossings and a tower near the tracks between the City and Nayandahalli railway stations was being viewed as a safety risk to passengers. Two of the lines are 220 KVA ones while one is a 66 KVA line. “The Railway Ministry has now accorded condonation (declaring the area safe for operations) for the three crossing lines which were viewed as infringements earlier,” Divisional Railway Manager, Bangalore Division, Sanjiv Agarwal told Express.

“The Commissioner of Rail Safety will shortly inspect the 45-km stretch and we can run EMU trains between the City and Ramanagaram,” he added.

As per the proposed plan, three trips would be run in the onward and return directions between both these points.

All the required infrastructure was in place here two years ago with the electrification of a line between the City and Kengeri running to 12 km completed in 1997 and the line along the return route completed in 2010. In 2014, electrification between Kengeri and Ramanagaram was completed at a cost of nearly `20 crore. Despite the EMU service being proposed in the 2014-2015 Railway budget, it could not be run because of the crossings.

The electrical lines were being viewed as a safety risk because: Height of the tower is 36.7 metres and safety measures dictate that a similar distance must be maintained horizontally too between the railway track and the tower. “Since the horizontal distance fell short by some metres it was considered a safety risk to passengers in the event of the tower falling onto the tracks,” the DRM explained. 

The tower could not be shifted elsewhere as it was surrounded by residential areas.

The matter also became a bone of contention between the Railways and the Karnataka Power Corporation Limited with the former requesting KPTCL to shift the tower and wires. While the Corporation wanted the Railways to bear the entire shifting cost, it was not considered feasible by the Railways.

The Bengaluru Division had even requested the Hubballi Division to grant them permission to run two Diesel Electric Multiple Units (DEMUs) along this direction but that did not come through. Running of EMUs is a better option as the pick-up and halts are much faster than that of DEMU.

DEMUs are presently run from Bangalore City to Tumakuru, Nelamangala, Chikkaballapur, Bangarpet and Kolar.

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