There is no proposal to start shuttle trains around Bangalore
Notwithstanding mounting pressure on the State government and the Ministry of Railways to introduce commuter rail service for Bangalore, the facility — dubbed as the common man’s metro rail — may not be a reality in the immediate future.
Sources in the South Western Railway told The Hindu that the zone has not made any specific proposal to the Indian Railway Timetable Conference (IRTTC) to introduce either diesel multiple units (DMU) or mainline electrical multiple units (MEMU) connecting different suburban parts of Bangalore and surrounding towns.
The IRTTC meeting at Madgaon in Goa last week too did not discuss this demand.
The sources said that South Western Railway does not have enough rakes to operate local passenger trains. The railway stations too are not equipped to handle passenger trains to be operated at high frequency and there is not enough maintenance facility, they said.
Rail India Technical and Economic Services (RITES) gave the feasibility report on commuter rail service about six months ago to the State government. Several meetings were held between the State government and South Western Railway thereafter but nothing much has happened.
Letter to Minister
Meanwhile, Infrastructure Committee Chairman of Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FKCCI), Prakash Mandoth, has urged Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal to expedite the process of introducing commuter rail service in Bangalore. In his letter to the Minister, Mr. Mandoth has pointed out that the demand for commuter rail service is two- decades old.
He said that travelling from one part of the city to the other has become expensive and cumbersome, especially for the labour and working class, with the increasing bus fares. Mr. Mandoth said that passenger train services on the existing railway network could solve this problem to a large extent even as the implementation of the RITES report could bring in a permanent service in this direction.
Mr. Mandoth told The Hindu that the Railway Ministry should have provided commuter rail service to Bangalore on the lines of Mumbai and Kolkata. Karnataka contributes considerably to the national exchequer in terms of various tax revenues and to the Railways through substantial freight and passenger revenue. “We are entitled for suitable allocation from the Railways,” he said.
Meanwhile, one more meeting between the State government and South Western Railway, this time called by the Chief Secretary, on commuter rail service remained inconclusive here recently.
The meeting was attended among others by Chief Secretary S.V. Ranganath, Directorate of Urban Land Transport Commissioner V. Manjula, Chief Traffic Planning Manager, South Western Railway, Hubli, Srinivas, Bangalore Divisional Railway Manager A.K. Agarwal, Senior Divisional Commercial Manager N. Ramesh and Senior Divisional Operations Manager Praveen Pande.
Sources said that Mr. Ranganath wanted to study the report in detail and said the meeting will be held this week.