It has been over a year since the swanky Sir M. Visvesvaraya Terminal at Byappanahalli has been ready. But the inordinate delay in throwing it open to the public has drawn the ire of railway activists and citizens who have demanded that South Western Railway (SWR) should not delay any further in commencing commercial services from the terminal. They say non-utilisation of the terminal, for which over ₹300 crore has been spent, speaks volumes about ignoring public interest.
Though the terminal was ready last year itself, the SWR was not in a position to start commercial operations as there was no good road connectivity. Last year, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) expedited the work on the roads connecting the terminal from Old Madras Road side and Banaswadi. After years of delay, the railway overbridge (RoB) at Byappanahalli was opened for motorists in January. However, it has been over five months since the opening of the RoB but the SWR has shown no signs of starting train services from the terminal.
Last month, there were reports that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would inaugurate the terminal and lay the foundation stone for suburban railway project in the city. But the Prime Minister’s visit to the State got postponed. “After the RoB linking Old Madras Road with the terminal opened for motorists, everyone started asking what is holding back the SWR from opening the terminal. Every time, it has been projected that the terminal will be inaugurated after the Prime Minister’s office gives the date. In the interest of the general public, elected representatives should take up the matter with the authorities and start train services from this point,” said rail activist K.N. Krishna Prasad.
Last year, the terminal hit the headlines for its passenger amenities that include centralised air-conditioning and an ‘airport-like’ look. Last September, Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw during his inspection said train operations would be commenced after the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike finds solutions to connectivity issues.
“Infrastructure and services should go hand in hand. In the case of the Byappanahalli terminal, infrastructure has been made ready by spending hundreds of crores but the facility has not been thrown open for public use. If the commercial operations are getting delayed just for want of formal inauguration, it speaks volumes about the importance being accorded to the people of the city. Similarly, in the case of the suburban railway, the project work has not started even after one-and-a-half years. These kinds of delays cost the city heavily,” Rajkumar Dugar, convener of Citizens for Citizens.
Abhishek R. said, “Citizens are not getting a valid reason as to why commercial operation has not begun from this point. Operating long-distance trains from the Byappanahalli terminal will help in decongesting Yeshwantpur and KSR Bengaluru stations.”
An official of the SWR said, “The terminal is ready for commercial operations. When it comes to the inaugural date, the decision will be taken at the highest level.” When contacted, MP for Bengaluru Central P.C. Mohan said he would meet the Divisional Railway Manager regarding the issue of starting commercial operations.