The work, started in April 2011, is almost complete
The law gives priority to movement of trains at level crossings. However, it is a different story in Bangalore where trains are held back to allow vehicular movement at level crossings. This is the daily ordeal for trains moving on the busy Bangalore-Chennai line.
Vehicles moving on the Byappanahalli Main Road that connects Old Madras Road and Banaswadi get stranded at the railway level crossing near Kalpalli Road Junction virtually blocking the movement of trains.
As both the railway line and the road witness voluminous traffic, the vehicular traffic piled up at the level crossing does not clear when the gates are lifted; and by then it is time for closing the gates again to allow a train to pass.
Traffic police and the railway personnel struggle to clear the vehicles from the tracks in such situations, resulting in holding up of trains leaving the city or those reaching the city, said a traffic police official. The situation is the same every day during the morning and evening peak hours, he said.
While all Bangalore-Chennai trains move on this line, about half of the number of trains between Bangalore-Salem and Bangalore-Dharmapuri too use this line, said Railway sources. In all, more than 40 pairs of trains run on this line every day.
Responding to appeals by road users, the South Western Railway and the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) decided to build a road overbridge at this level crossing on cost-sharing basis. The work, which started in April 2011, is now nearing completion.
On January 19 this year, the Defence authorities (Madras Engineer Group) asked the South Western Railway to stop the work claiming ownership of the land, the sources said. At that time the work was progressing on the Kalpalli Main Road approach towards Old Madras Road. The road overbridge has remained incomplete towards Old Madras Road as of now.
The Railways as well as the BBMP have written letters to the Director-General of Defence Estates, Delhi Cantonment, to allow completion of work on the road overbridge stating that it was in public interest. However, the Defence authorities are yet to respond to their plea. They also said that there was no encroachment of the Defence land for the road over bridge.
The road overbridge is being built at a cost of about Rs. 20 crore (Rs. 9.49 crore from Railways and Rs. 10.92 from BBMP) with a 7.5 m carriageway for vehicles. It was supposed to be thrown open for traffic by March this year. The length of the bridge is about 900 m, of which about 300 m is elevated.
BBMP sources told The Hindu that the Byappanahalli Main Road was being used by the public for at least 80 years. Even if accepting MEG's claim of ownership over the land, the Defence authorities should have allowed the construction retaining the ownership, the sources said.