MEMU trains to airport an affordable choice

A MEMU train arriving at the Kempegowda International Airport Halt station in Bengaluru.

A MEMU train arriving at the Kempegowda International Airport Halt station in Bengaluru. | Photo Credit: SUDHAKARA JAIN

The introduction of MEMU (Mainline Electrical Multiple Unit) express special service trains from various points in the city to Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) by the South Western Railway (SWR) may be an affordable and convenient transport facility, but the public is yet to make use of it.

On Monday, this reporter travelled in a MEMU train from Bengaluru Cantonment to the halt station located on the boundary of the airport. The train left from the original point at 12.20 p.m. and reached the KIA halt station at 1.20 p.m. as per the time table. A total of five people travelled in the train that had 8 coaches and none of them were either air passengers or employees working at the airport. All of them travelled in the train to have an experience of travelling in MEMU to Devanahalli.

Puneet, a student who boarded the train at Yelahanka, said: “I got to know about the SWR introducing the electric train to Devanahalli. Out of curiosity, I travelled with two of my friends. It was a good experience.”

Another traveller said: “While boarding, I thought many people would travel in the train. It is surprising that all the coaches are running empty.” At the KIA halt station, a feeder bus was ready to ferry passengers to the airport.

In the return direction on Monday, the train that left Devanahalli at 2 p.m. and reached Cantonment at 3.12 p.m., only a few passengers travelled. Damodara R. who travelled from Devanahalli said: “I got to know about the train service through a mobile app. The train is a cheaper option of travel and more convenient than bus or taxi. The authorities should run MEMU trains up to Chickballapur to increase the patronage.”

The public can travel to and from the airport to city points by spending ₹30 to ₹35. The train services have been introduced from Bengaluru Cantonment, KSR Bengaluru and Yelahanka. The SWR has maintained that schedule of trains were fixed after consulting Bengaluru International Airport Limited (BIAL), the operator of Bengaluru airport. The SWR is running five pairs of MEMU trains from the city to Devanahalli.

There is a need to popularise the service among the public and people working on the airport campus. When contacted, a spokesperson of BIAL said, “For the benefit of people working in various sectors in airlines, cargo concessionaires, security and others, we will shortly roll out international communication. Through posters, standees, and emails, information regarding new train services will be made available. In this regard, we will work with the HR division of respective organisations.” Airport community has a strength of 28,000 people. 

People living in villages located close to the halt station have demanded the authorities give access to the station. “From Bachhehalli gate, the halt station can be linked through a road network. Earlier, there was a narrow path but it has been closed now. If access is given to the halt station, people living in Kanmangla, Bhuvanahalli and others will benefit and the patronage will also increase for the train services.” There is a demand to extend the services till Chickballapur.

Rail activists say that the introduction of train services from Hosur, Whitefield, Bidadi, Tumakuru side will help increase patronage. “Introduction of MEMU services is a good development. MEMU services are well received on suburban routes. Running trains from various points via the CBD areas will help in increasing the patronage over the period. The public, especially people working at the airport, should be encouraged to use the service.”

Chief PRO of SWR Aneesh Hegde said, “The SWR has introduced the MEMU services after demand by the public and rail activists. We are promoting the services through social media and other platforms.” Last year, the SWR had introduced the train services. Due to various factors, the services were suspended for months and restarted recently. 

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Printable version | Aug 17, 2022 9:16:38 am |