With South Western Railway (SWR) hoping to start passenger and express train services from the new coaching terminal at Baiyappanahalli in October, experts and commuters have raised questions about connectivity and accessibility to the station.
The roads leading to the swanky new terminal, the exterior of which looks similar to that of the Kempegowda International Airport, are narrow and under-developed, say commuters, urging the authorities to remedy the situation before COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
Though the new terminal is less than 2 km from Baiyappanahalli metro station on Old Madras Road and the existing railway station, commuters will have to take a detour of over 6 km via Kasturinagar in the absence of a proper road.
Commuters from Indiranagar, K.R. Puram, Domlur, Koramangala, and Ramamurthynagar will not be able to use the narrow and mud-filled bumpy lane leading to the station from Old Madras Road.
The situation is no different for those coming from Maruthi Sevanagar as the roads leading to the station are narrow.
The new terminal is likely to see a huge footfall once it is operational. According to South Western Railway officials, commercial operations from Baiyappanahalli will reduce congestion at Yeshwantpur and KSR Bengaluru railway stations. There are reports that the Railways is contemplating private trains to Delhi, Guwahati, Patna, and some other destinations from the new terminal.
However, unless the road connectivity issue is addressed, massive traffic jams and bottlenecks are in the offing, warn residents in and around Baiyappanahalli.
Vasu B. of Old Byappanahalli Residents’ Welfare Association said that the SWR should have worked in coordination with the civic body to improve multi-modal connectivity to the new terminal while the work on the station was under way.
“Construction of a bridge over the level-crossing on the road leading to the new terminal from Old Madras Road has been pending for the past several years owing to land issues with the Defence Ministry,” he said.
Residents at the other end — in Banaswadi and other eastern suburbs — also anticipate an increase in traffic bottlenecks once the terminal is fully operational as the existing roads are inadequate to handle an increase in the number of vehicles.
“The new terminal is very well built. But what is the use if there is no proper connectivity?” said Shekar B., who lives nearby.
D.S. Rajashekar of the Federation of Bangalore North East Residents’ Welfare Association pointed out that people of East Bengaluru already face a challenge accessing Banaswadi Railway Station. “What is the use of having these two railway stations if they lack proper road connectivity?”
Transport expert Sanjeev Dyamannavar of the advocacy group Praja said they had been raising this issue with the authorities concerned for over four years.
“The Railways should also consider running more local trains from other stations across the city to the new terminal. This will solve, to an extent, the problem of lack of integration of multi-modal connectivity,” he said.
He also suggested construction of a footbridge with a walkalator from Baiyappanahalli metro station to the new terminal. “One such pedestrian bridge from the KSR railway station to the KSR metro station has been well received by people,” he said.
He suggested a subway beneath the congested flyover near Mukunda theatre to solve the problem at the other side.
On providing better access points and integration of terminals with other modes of transport, E. Vijaya, chief public relations officer of the SWR, said, “We have built 75% of the road to access the terminal using railway land. Beyond that is the responsibility of the BBMP.”
To a question whether the authorities concerned held a meeting to integrate various modes of transport, the official said, “No discussion has been held yet.”
The lack of seamless integration of public transport systems is a hurdle that a majority of mass transit projects face.
Majestic, one of the major transport hubs in the city, is a case in point. It took years for the BMRCL and the SWR to build a skywalk to connect the metro station with KSR railway station.
At Yeshwantpur, the integration is yet to happen.
Another example is the KSRTC’s Basaveshwara bus terminal at Peenya, which remains underutilised owing to connectivity problems. The transport corporation had spent ₹40 crore to build the terminal.