Govind D. Belgaumkar

Three important sections in the Karnataka rail network such as Shimoga-Talguppa, Chikballapur-Srinivaspura-Kolar and Gadag-Bijapur are still in narrow gauge The early completion of Bangalore-Mysore doubling work is expected to benefit the State as it is working towards making this stretch a special IT corridor People of the coastal region are demanding inclusion of Mangalore-Kanakanadi line in South Western Railway

BANGALORE: People of the State are expecting a lot from the Railway budget to be presented on Friday.

Different regions have been demanding at least five new lines, expeditious doubling of the Bangalore-Belgaum section (Bangalore-Tumkur sanctioned already) and doubling-cum-electrification of the Bangalore-Mysore (Bangalore-Ramanagaram section sanctioned already), broad gauge conversion of five lines and expeditious completion of all other ongoing projects.

The new lines being sought are: Bidar-Gulbarga, extension of Shimoga-Talguppa line up to Honnavar or Bhatkal, Chickballapur-Chinatamani-Srinivasapura-Madanapalli Road, Raichur-Gadwal and Kottur-Harihar via Harapanahalli.

People have been demanding gauge conversion of Chickballapur-Kolar, Bijapur-Gadag, Arasikere-Hassan, Shimoga-Talguppa, and Mysore-Chamarajangar (and extension up to Mettupalyam) lines.

The following projects need to be completed expeditiously: Bangalore-Tumkur doubling (sanctioned in 1997-98), Bangalore-Ramanagaram doubling and electrification, the 93-km Kadur-Chikmagalur-Sakleshpur (1996-97) and the Bangalore-Shravanabelagola-Hassan (sanctioned in 1996-97) line. These projects have been making tardy progress in view of lack of funds.

Three important sections in the Karnataka Railway network such as Shimoga-Talguppa, Chikballapur-Srinivaspura-Kolar and Gadag-Bijapur are still in narrow gauge.

It may be noted that conversion of the narrow gauge Shimoga-Talaguppa section into broad gauge and extension of the line up to Honnavar or Bhatkal will provide a faster and shorter route to Mumbai for people in most parts of southern Karnataka. Similarly, people will have the shortest route to Tirupati if the new Chickaballapur-Chintamani-Srinivasapura-Madanapalli Road line is upgraded. In a recent letter to Railway Minister Lalu Prasad, the city-based Rajasthan Samaj Railway Sangarsha Samiti (RSRSS) urged him to consider the demands of Karnataka favourably.

Chickballapur-Kolar gauge conversion occupies significance in view of the Bangalore international airport, work on which has already commenced, points out Prakash Mandoth, president of RSRSS. The conversion is expected to provide an impetus to the growth of the backward region of Kolar.

Bidar and Gulbarga are two important commercial and industrial cities of Karnataka. Yet they do not have direct rail connectivity.

Once that is provided, this section is expected to provide a shorter route to Delhi for Kannadigas and reduce travel time by at least four hours.

The Arsikere-Hassan-Mangalore project was taken up in 1994-95.

Though the Mangalore-Subramanya Road section has been opened for operations, the Sakleshpur-Subramnaya Road track link is yet to be opened for train operation. Because of this, the Yeshwantpur-Mangalore (train No. 6515), which was announced in the last budget, has not been introduced as yet. Goods trains are being run on this section on a trial basis.

The early completion of the Bangalore-Mysore doubling work is expected to benefit Karnataka as the State is working towards making this stretch a special IT corridor to fuel the growth of IT and IT-enabled services.

On the other hand, people in the coastal region have been demanding inclusion of the six-km stretch of the Mangalore-Kanakanadi line under the jurisdiction of South Western Railway (SWR), which controls most of the railway network in the State. People in north Karnataka have been demanding that Guntakal-Hotagi sections also be brought under SWR.