I’ll try to take up Yelahanka-Penukonda line doubling proposal, says Minister Kharge

The Railway Board’s lack of interest in a proposal that will enable doubling the single line between Yelahanka-Penukonda on the Bangalore-Dharmavaram section has not only been hindering introduction of new trains but also posing operational difficulties, according to railway officials and regular commuters. The line is saturated with capacity utilisation on this 121-km stretch being over 140 per cent with 22 pairs of mail/ express trains, four pairs of passenger trains and eight pairs of goods trains being operated daily.

The Dharmavaram section is the shortest route to many important cities, from where rail lines go towards Secunderabad, Raichur and Bellary.

The South Western Railway, under whose jurisdiction the stretch falls, has been submitting the doubling proposal for over a decade, but to no avail, said sources in the railway zone.

Many important trains linking Bangalore with other cities, including the Udyan Express (Mumbai), Kacheguda Express (Hyderabad), Rajdhani Express (Delhi), Basava Express (Bagalkot), Hampi Express (Hubli) and Sampark Kranti Express (Delhi), operate on this route.

The stretch offers short-distance connectivity even to the Hyderabad-Karnataka region and doubling should be given priority, said K.N. Krishna Prasad, a regular rail commuter. He said that electrification work is in progress on this stretch, which is of no use as the line from Dharmavaram to Secunderabad does not have electrification. He said that funds should be utilised for line doubling.

Divisional Railway Manager, Bangalore, Anil Kumar Agarwal, told The Hindu that a fresh proposal for ling doubling is being sent to the Railway Board. The rate of return after line doubling would be 18 per cent and is above the minimum rate of 14 per cent. Hence, doubling, expected to cost about Rs. 840 crore, is essential, Mr. Agarwal said.

Sources, however, said that the board’s reluctance to line doubling could be due to lack of political pressure. Hitherto, doubling proposals were sent under “traffic requirement” head, he said. The other alternative to doubling could be new lines between Chickballapur-Gauribidanur or Chickballapur-Sri Satya Sai Prasanti Nilayam, both of which had been announced in earlier Railway budgets. The surveys too are over, he said.

Railway Minister M. Mallikarjun Kharge has said that he would try to include the doubling proposal in the vote on account to be presented next month.

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