While Namma Metro takes shape in Bangalore, citizen groups made out a strong case for alternative commuter rail services for the city.
There are railway tracks, laid by the Railways, lying under-used across the city, as valuable infrastructure that is potentially helpful for a large population, said Sanjeev Dyamannavar from the Research, Analysis and Advocacy Group of Praja, a social media organisation working on urban issues, at a public discussion here on Sunday.
It would be people-friendly, as it would cover the industrial areas of Dodballapur, Chickballapur, Bangarpet, Nidavanda and Bidadi, benefiting the labourers there, he said. “Educational institutes scattered around the city and hospitals are expected to be connected,” he said.
“In Bangalore, we are moving more vehicles rather than people,” he said. According to him, commuter rail services offers four times longer network at one fifth of the cost of the Metro rail. “Commuter rail services connects the city suburbs in all directions within a 100-km radius and covers about 405 km at the cost of Rs. 8.000 crore whereas Metro rail covers just 115 kilometres at a cost of Rs. 38,000 crore,” he added. “Just as with the Metro, commuter rail services can be ramped up to provide more seating facilities with more services during peak hours. The project is attractive in view of the long-term conservation of the city, as it will not disturb city landscapes,” he said.
RITES (Rail India Technical and Economic Services) submitted a report in the last week of June on commuter rail services, highlighting its importance to the growing needs of the city. On completion of the project, in three phases, it is estimated to serve 20 lakh commuters a day. “Technically, the entire process is feasible, but the ball is now in the government’s court,” Mr. Dyamannavar said.
T.G. Sitaram, chairman of the Centre for Infrastructure, Sustainable Transport and Urban Planning, Indian Institute of Science, in his keynote address, said that while the Metro rail can serve the central business districts, commuter rail services can serve more suburbs and remote areas.