Bengaluru

Six-car Namma Metro train makes its debut

The six-coach train entering Trinity station, on M.G. Road, during its inaugural trip on Friday evening from Baiyappanahalli to Kempegowda station at Majestic.   | Photo Credit: K_MURALI_KUMAR

Amidst much fanfare, a little over a year after the Phase I operations were inaugurated, the much-awaited six-car Namma Metro train was flagged off at Baiyappanahalli metro station by Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy on Friday, albeit some 45 minutes later than the scheduled time. The six-car train will have a capacity of 2,004 passengers.

The new train — the only six-car train in the fleet of 50 trains — left Baiyappanahalli around 6.15 p.m. for Majestic, ferrying VIPs, invitees and mediapersons on its inaugural run. It then made one trip from Majestic to Mysuru Road before returning to Baiyappanahalli, with regular commuters.

Primarily during peak hours

The train will be operated primarily during the morning and evening peak hours on weekdays. However, it will run this Saturday and Sunday, starting its first trip at 7.24 a.m. from Baiyappanahalli. Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. (BMRCL) Managing Director Mahendra Jain said the company will take a call on operating the train for the next weekend depending on the ridership.

As announced earlier, the first coach will be reserved for women, and short-loop services will be operated to ease peak traffic.

Speaking at a press conference after the inaugural run, Mr. Jain said BEML Ltd., which is manufacturing the coaches, has promised that all coaches will be delivered by June 2019 instead of December 2019. "By June 2019, all 50 trains will be six-coach trains," he said.

Speaking about the milestones in the journey of Namma Metro, he said since the commissioning of Phase I, the number of trips made had gone up to 298 from 216, and ridership had touched four lakh per day on some days, and an average 3.65 lakh per day from the earlier 1.5 lakh. The revenue generated per day now is ₹1 crore, he said.

Mr. Kumarsawamy recalled that the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had laid the foundation stone for the metro rail project for the stretch between Baiyappanahalli and M.G. Road., in June 2006, when he was the chief minister.

Addressing Mr. Kumaraswamy, Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister of State (Independent Charge), Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, said, “Sometimes, opposition and and partisan politics suggests that metro should either be made free, or there should never be a fare hike. If you do that, can you maintain the safety, efficiency; so the choice is between a first class, world class asset and something that seems to be in shambles.”

Frustration for commuters

Though the excitement and relief of commuters over the arrival of the six-car train was palpable, those who were waiting for the metro around the same time as the inauguration were left angry and frustrated. One of them said the inauguration of the six-car train was timed wrong, as it coincided with the peak evening hour when a large number of office-goers were headed back home.

As the inaugural train was reserved exclusively for the Chief Minister and other VIPs, invitees and mediapersons, large crowds were spotted at many stations as the number of passengers waiting for the train piled up.

At Kempegowda Majestic station, where a press conference was scheduled after the inaugural run, people were not allowed to proceed to their platforms.

“I have to catch a train to Mysuru at 7 p.m. I hope I make it on time. I did not factor in this additional waiting time of 10 minutes,” said a passenger.

‘Bengaluru has reached saturation point’

In the midst of talk of augmented trains easing Bengaluru’s choked roads, the need to decongest the city was also emphasised.

Deputy Chief Minister and Bengaluru Development Minister G. Parameshwara said Bengaluru is the fastest growing city in Asia, and there was a necessity to develop satellite towns to solve its problems.

“There are over 70 lakh vehicles on Bengaluru’s roads. After the Phase II Namma Metro becomes operational, some 20 lakh people are expected to travel by the metro. But we don’t know how many more vehicles will be added by then. Bengaluru is the fastest growing city in Asia today. We have to develop Ramanagara, Kolar and Tumakuru as satellite towns, and link them by metro or suburban train. Bengaluru’s problems will be solved then,” he said.

Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy said the city had reached saturation point, and projects to decongest it, such as the Outer Peripheral Ring Road and developing satellite towns, had become imperative.

Elaborating on the need for projects, such as the metro rail for cities, Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister of State (Independent Charge), Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, said, “Our problems in urban areas in terms of urbanisation and demographic shifts of population are going to increase. In 1947, the urban population was only 17% on a population base of 300 to 350 million; in the 2011 census, 30% on a population basis of around 1.25 billion lived in urban areas; by 2030, we will have something like 600 million of our citizens living in our large cities and urban areas. So, it is absolutely essential that we decongest the roads by providing world class urban mobility, and the metro is one such example.”

Benefits for metro staff, but union not satisfied

The BMRCL on Friday announced financial and non-financial benefits for its operations and maintenance staff.

Among the financial benefits are night duty allowance, hard duty allowance, washing allowance and transport allowance, along with general holiday allowance in place of weekly off falling on a general holiday.

In addition, the BMRCL also announced subsidised food in its canteen, recognition of the Kannada Sangha of the BMRCL staff, construction of a creche where there are more than 100 women employees, establishment of default station for 108 ambulances at Kempegowda station, providing annual appraisal copies to employees, and amendments to the C&R rules to create intermediate posts for promotion.

However, Suryanarayana Murthy, vice-president, BMRCL employees’ union said their main demand was to end the salary disparity with their counterparts in other metro corporations, which has not been addressed. “A grievance committee has to be constituted. We will continue our fight,” he said.


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Printable version | Oct 23, 2021 11:05:42 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/six-car-namma-metro-train-makes-its-debut/article24234419.ece

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