KPTCL removes hurdle to MEMU train to Bengaluru airport

The KPTCL has built a new transmission line over the Yelahanka-Devanahalli railway track. The old line, built in 1985, was a safety hazard.

The KPTCL has built a new transmission line over the Yelahanka-Devanahalli railway track. The old line, built in 1985, was a safety hazard. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

All decks have been cleared for MEMU trains to run on the electrified track between Yelahanaka and Devanahalli, which also connects Kempegowda International Airport (KIA), and services to KIA will begin soon.

The presence of transmission lines of the Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation Ltd. (KPTCL) over the Yelahanka-Devanahalli rail track near Settigere had posed safety issues to operate MEMU trains. The KPTCL has finally removed it and replaced it with a new one by heightening the line, over six months after the issue was flagged.

The line which was 8.6 metres high has now been heightened to 18.5 metres. The issue of heightening the transmission line had remained unresolved for over six months because property owners had not given consent for right of way and were demanding more compensation. In mid-June, the KPTCL managed to complete the works.  

Divisional Railway Manager (DRM) of Bengaluru Division South Western Railway (SWR) Shyam Singh said shortly, MEMU trains will operate on the line. “Due to safety issues, we could not run MEMU trains on the newly electrified line. The presence of the old transmission line affected our plans for close to six months. Now, with coordination from various agencies, it has been resolved. The SWR will run the MEMU after doing the necessary tests,” he said.

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However, he said while two pairs of DEMU are being operated on the line at present, the response was poor. In January 2021, the SWR started commercial operation of the halt station built near the boundary wall of the airport campus. Initially, five pairs of train services were provided. However, the patronage was very poor. Issues with train schedules, punctuality of services, and apprehension of not reaching the airport in time were some of the reasons. There were instances of only one or two passengers using the train to the KIA halt station.

The SWR suspended the train services for over six months to take up maintenance work, while curtailing services due to the pandemic also played a role in not getting good patronage. 

“It is very sad that the new halt station remains underutilised. Running trains with frequency will help both air passengers and employees. More trains should be introduced during morning and evening hours. Employees working at KIA will save money if more train services are made available to the airport,” said Anil Kumar, who travels to KIA.

Rescheduling train services on the cards

Following poor response to DEMU trains, the South Western Railway has consulted the Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) on revising the train timings in the future. “Based on the flight arrivals and departures and shift hours of employees working on the airport campus, we have received suggestions from the BIAL to run the trains. We are examining them and exploring the possibility of running trains,” DRM of Bengaluru Division South Western Railway Shyam Singh said said. On June 21, the officials had conducted trial run on the electrified line.

When the train services were first introduced, it was projected that other than air-passengers, more than 25,000 employees working on the campus of the airport would benefit. However, that did not happen. The train service is an economical option compared to buses, taxis, or using private vehicles to reach the airport that is located 35 to 40 km away from the city points. A one-way ticket to the KIA halt station ranges between ₹10 and ₹15. On June 21, the officials conducted trial run on the electrified line.

Significant line

The Yelahanka-Devanahalli-Chickballapur electrified railway line is also a significant line for heritage, as many heritage station structures Doddajala, Devenahalli, Avathihalli, and Nandi are located on the line. Renovation work of Doddajala station is nearing completion. 

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Printable version | Jun 29, 2022 10:18:56 am |