Soon you may be able to hop on suburban trains to travel to cities around Bangalore.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah gave the green signal to the suburban rail system connecting Bangalore to nearby towns and cities, in his budget for 2013-14 presented on Friday.

He said the government had conducted a feasibility study for suburban rail system connecting Bangalore to Tumkur, Ramanagaram, etc. The project cost was estimated at Rs. 8,759 crore. A detailed project report for phase one of the project would be prepared, he said.

The government has proposed to set up a special purpose vehicle (SPV), Bangalore Suburban Rail Corporation, to implement the project.

Feasibility report

According to the feasibility report submitted by RITES Ltd., a Government of India enterprise, phase one of the project would have a network spread over 200 km and cover Mandya, Ramanagaram, Bangarpet and Tumkur.

Praja, a public advocacy organisation, has been pushing for the development of a commuter rail network for the past two to three years. According to Muralidhar Rao from Praja, the announcement has come at a good time.

He hailed the commuter rail or suburban rail system as being a cost-effective mode of transport that would benefit the common man.

“When Praja started working on this, we called it Namma Railu. Since the city roads are all cluttered, we looked at rail lines around the city and worked out a proposal on the lines of the commuter rail system between Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus and Thane in Mumbai,” he said.

Mr. Rao said that with the implementation of the suburban rail system, there would be uniform growth in cities around Bangalore such as Tumkur, Mandya, Chickballapur, Ramanagaram, Bangarpet, Doddaballapur and Hosur, besides reducing congestion in Bangalore.

He said that according to Praja’s estimates, the investment in the project would be less (around Rs. 20 crore a km) as the rail tracks were already in place. The running cost could be met, as the SPV could decide on the fare. “The advantage is that the SPV will not be dependent on the Railway Budget to determine the fare, unlike the Mumbai commuter rail system,” he added.

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