It has been almost a month since the operation of MEMU train services to Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) commenced, but patronage to the services has remained poor. The trains are running almost empty on a daily basis.
The South Western Railway (SWR) is operating seven pairs of trains, including five pairs of MEMU trains. Last week, the maximum number of passengers travelling per train did not cross 25 and there were instances of only three or four people travelling in the train. The MEMU train has six coaches and a carrying capacity of 100 per coach.
Officials say average revenue generated is around ₹800 per day. It costs up to ₹35 to travel in a MEMU train to reach the airport.
Realising that the ridership is not going to pick up on its own, officials of the SWR are holding a meeting with various stakeholders, including Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL), the operator of the KIA, and others.
Additional Divisional Railway Manager Kusuma Hariprasad said, “Response to the airport trains services has remained poor. There is a need to promote the services among the people working on the campus of the airport and among air passengers. On Friday, we will hold a meeting with the officials concerned of BIAL and other organisations. During the meeting, we will brief them on how economical and beneficial the train services are. Employees working at the airport can also travel in these trains using monthly passes that costs around ₹300. To popularise the services, we are also planning to rope in celebrities and organisations.”
Meanwhile, BIAL has put up the train schedules at the terminal areas and others for the consumption of the air passengers. It has also reached out to cargo concessionaires, construction companies, airlines and others to encourage their employees to use the services.
“At the workplaces, notices and other areas, information on airport train services have been provided. Through HRs of the organisations concerned, information has been disseminated to their employees. We have also put up signage in the terminal area informing passengers about the shuttle services available to reach the halt station,” a spokesperson of the BIAL said.
At present, more than 28,000 employees are working in various sectors.
Air passengers, who have used the train services to reach the airport, said that it is economical and convenient compared to other modes of transport. Vijay Raj, who runs a travel business, opted for a MEMU train to reach the airport.
“While travelling from Hosur to Bengaluru, I found out that train services are available to the Bengaluru airport, but when I checked with my friends, they were not aware of the trains. I took the MEMU train from Cantonment with my family members. The train left the station around 4 p.m. and reached the halt station around 4.50 p.m. I found travelling comfortable. Surprisingly, there were hardly a few people travelling in the train; the entire train was empty. The halt station at KIA is good and shuttle service to the terminal area helped a lot.”
Rail activist Sanjeev Dyamannavar said that they should identify the feasibility of running trains from multiple locations for the benefit of the general public and reduce the travel time. “Trains that are operated till Yelahanka must be extended till Yeshwanthpur or Baiyappanahalli. Because of metro links, there will be more patronage for the services.”