In June 2021, after inspecting the progress of track-doubling work between Cantonment and Heelalige, then Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa announced that in three months, the Prime Minister would lay the foundation stone for the suburban rail project. But like many promises our politicians have made, this one has also remained undelivered.
Bengalureans who have been waiting for decades for a suburban rail network are hoping that at least civil work will begin this year. In November, Rail Infrastructure Development Company (Karnataka) Ltd. (K-RIDE), the agency implementing the project, floated a tender for civil works between Byappanahalli to Chikkabanavara (Corridor 2 of the rail network). A few days ago, the Deputy Conservator of Forests of the BBMP issued a public notice regarding removal of 661 trees along the alignment.
“Considering that K-RIDE has already floated tender, construction work should start from this year. K-RIDE should also float tenders for the remaining three corridors as well,” said rail activist Sanjeev Dyamannavar.
He pointed out that initially, the agency had prioritised the KSR Bengaluru – Devanahalli corridor, which would help people travelling to the airport. “But the State Government is not keen on taking up this line. The metro link to Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) will take five to six years to be completed, and will benefit people living in the east as well as those coming from Electronics City. If K-RIDE takes up the KSR-Devanahalli line, it will be to the benefit of people living in the central business district and other areas. The State Government should prioritise this line for the benefit of the larger public,” Mr. Dyamannavar added.
New metro lines
The suburban railway is just one part of a comprehensive and well-mapped mass transit system that Bengaluru needs. While Namma Metro’s reach has been growing, the pace of expansion is slow, with deadlines often missed.
On many occasions, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai has also instructed Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. (BMRCL) to advance deadlines for opening metro lines under phase II of the project.
Citizens are demanding that the BMRCL operationalise the extension of the metro line from Byappanahalli to Whitefield and new line from R.V. Road to Bommasandra.
BMRCL managing director Anjum Parwez said that all measures had been taken to expedite metro works on both the lines. “On the Byappanahalli–Whitefield line, construction work between Byappanahalli and K.R. Puram will be expedited. The project has reached an advanced stage on the rest of the line,” he said.
He added that on the new line from Bommasandra to R.V. Road, measures will be taken to complete pending works. This year, the BMRCL is likely to open the short extension of the Green Line from Nagasandra to BIEC.
The BMRCL has to go a long way in completion of the ongoing phase II metro project: of the 72-km line, only 14 km have been made operational. The BMRCL has also taken up work on the ORR–Airport line, covering a distance over 55 km from Central Silk Board to KIA. Till the completion of the project, motorists using the Outer Ring Road (ORR) will have a tough time.
More new buses to hit the road
The year 2022 is likely to see the operation of 390 non-AC electric buses and 600 BSVI buses. The Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) has already started introducing environment friendly buses under the Smart City project. Newly inducted e-buses are being operated as feeder services to Namma Metro.
Bengalureans have been demanding the public transport service providers to introduce the common mobility card which enables them to travel in multiple modes of transport. The BMRCL has been claiming that the infrastructure is ready for introduction of the common mobility cards, whereas, the BMTC has a long way to go.