Ahead of the Karnataka Assembly elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday (March 25) inaugurated the metro line to Whitefield, the IT hub of Bengaluru. He took a round-trip on a train from Whitefield (Kadugodi) to Sathya Sai Hospital station. During the 16-minute trip, the Prime Minister interacted with students, engineers of the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation and construction workers.
He was accompanied by Karnataka governor Thaawarchand Gehlot and Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai.
The BMRCL will start commercial operations on the Whitefield line on Sunday (March 26).
Under phase II, the BMRCL has extended the Purple Line from Baiyappanahalli to Whitefield, a distance of 15 km. Of this, the 13 km stretch from Krishnarajpura to Whitefield was inaugurated on Saturday. The rest of the stretch between K.R. Pura and Baiyappanahalli is expected to be opened by mid-year.
BMRCL MD Anjum Parwez said the Prime Minister used the National Common Mobility Card (NCMC) to travel in the Namma Metro.
2nd largest network
Bengaluru now has 69.66 km of operational metro network with 63 stations, the second largest in the country after Delhi. The Whitefield metro line project cost ₹4,249 crore.
Ms. Uma N., an engineer of the BMRCL, who works in the maintenance division, had a rare chance to interact with the Prime Minister. She told The Hindu, “I was very happy to meet the Prime Minister. I was part of a team of eight women engineers to interact with the PM. He enquired about what we do in Namma Metro.”
The inaugural train was driven by two loco pilots Priyanaka P. and Priyanka Bellary. “I am happy that I was selected to drive the train on which Mr. Modi travelled today. Over the last 15 days, I was given training and counselling during the trial runs on this line,” Ms. Priyanka P. said.
National Common Mobility Card
On Saturday, the first Rupay National Common Mobility Card (NCMC) of Namma Metro was used by the Prime Minister to travel on the Whitefield Metro line. The BMRCL announced that Rupay NCMC cards of RBL Bank (the issuer bank for BMRCL) would be available to the public from Thursday (March 30) at the metro stations.
NCMC cards allow people to travel not only in Namma Metro but also in the metros of other cities. The cost of the card is ₹100 and the holder of the card has to recharge as per the travel requirement.
BMRCL MD Anjum Parwez told The Hindu, “NCMC cards are open-loop cards that can be used for other transactions as well. At present, Mumbai Metro and Delhi Metro enable the usage of NCMC cards. In future, the BMTC will also start accepting these cards on city buses. When the number increases, we are contemplating roping in mobile app aggregators, and auto drivers to accept these cards.”
In the past, the BMRCL missed several deadlines to introduce the much-awaited cards. In 2020, the BMRCL started a trial run of the card. “One of the main challenges was enabling old AFC gates (automatic fare collection gates) used in phase I of the metro. We had multiple rounds of deliberations on introducing the NCMC cards for the benefit of the passengers,” said the official.
Line open to public from today
On Sunday (March 26), when BMRCL opens Whitefield line to the public, the services will start at 7 a.m., and the last train will depart at 11 p.m. from the terminal stations. From Monday (March 27), train services will be available from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m.
A BMRCL official said, “On the new line, we have deployed five sets of trains. They will run at 10 to 12-minute intervals. Normal schedules applicable at other reaches will apply here as well.”
People who want to use the new line to reach Whitefield can alight at S.V. Road or Baiyappanahalli station and board a city bus to reach Krishnarajpura (K.R. Pura) station. The distance between S.V. Road and K.R. Pura is more than 5 km, and between Baiyappanahalli and K.R. Pura is around 4 km.
Owing to a delay in the execution of work related to an open web girder across a track near Benniganahalli, the BMRCL could not open the stretch from Baiyappanahalli to Krishnarajapura. It is expected to be opened by mid-year.