Demand grows for taking up work on suburban line linking Bengaluru airport

The Airport Halt station has remained underutilised.

The Airport Halt station has remained underutilised.

While sanctioning the suburban rail project, the Union government had imposed a rider that K-RIDE, the implementing agency, must take up the KSR Bengaluru–Devanahalli line, connecting the Kempegowda International Airport (KIA), on priority. However, K-RIDE decided to take up the Baiyappanahalli–Chikkabanavara corridor instead of the airport line in the first phase of the project.

This has not gone down well with railway activists, who have been demanding a robust rail network connecting the airport as it is going to benefit thousands of air passengers and also those working on airport premises.

The detailed project report prepared for the suburban rail project states that the KIA, located near Devanahalli, became operational in May 2008 and is 40 km away from the city centre. The NH-44 (Ballari Road) is the only main road connecting the city to the KIA. Presently, air passengers are relying on Vayu Vajra bus services operated by the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC), taxis or private vehicles to reach the airport.

Last year, Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. (BMRCL) started construction of a 58-km Outer Ring Road–airport link from the Central Silk Board to the KIA. The project is expected to be completed by 2025–26. This metro line will help those travelling from the southern and eastern parts of the city. The BMRCL is also building a new metro line from Kalena Agrahara to Nagawara which will be integrated with the ORR–airport line at Nagawara.

Rajkumar Dugar, convener of Citizens for Citizens (C4C), said, “For reasons unknown, the suburban rail from the heart of the city to the airport was not taken up on a preferential basis. With terminal-2 coming at the KIA and the footfall expected to rise rapidly, we are staring at a crisis without a robust mass transit system connecting the airport. The metro project to the airport is expected to cater to the southern and eastern parts of the city, whereas the suburban rail is to major parts of the city such as Majestic and Yeshwantpur, which have a metro network.” 

He added that Majestic and Yeshwantpur, which are part of the proposed suburban rail network to the airport, already have Namma Metro stations and railway stations. Integration of these stations with the proposed suburban rail network will help in good patronage. 

Rail activist Sanjeev Dyamannavar said, “K-RIDE should call the tender for the airport line and implement the project on priority. This line can be completed early and help in a big way for people commuting to the airport. The agency should also expedite floating of tenders for the remaining corridors. Continued monitoring of the project by both the State government and the Railway Ministry will help in clearing administrative approvals and completing the project.”

Last year, South Western Railway started a local train service by using the existing railway line from Yelahanka to Devanahalli for the benefit of air passengers. But, due to various reasons, the service did not receive good patronage. A halt station built adjacent to the KIA campus remains underutilised due to poor patronage.

In early 2020, Bangalore International Airport Ltd. had estimated that the passenger volume at the KIA will be between 55 to 65 million per annum in the next five years. The first phase of the second terminal of the KIA is likely to be operational by the end of the year.

To a question on when Corridor - 1, named Sampige line, from KSR to Devanahalli will be taken up for implementation, an official of K-RIDE said, “The airport line is the part of the sanctioned project and will be taken for implementation in the coming days. All the four corridors sanctioned will be taken up one by one.” It is said that in the next phase, K-RIDE will float tenders for implementing Heelalige–Rajankunte line. 

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Printable version | Jun 17, 2022 2:03:30 am |