Railway users want the existing infrastructure to be improved.
Commuters of Bengaluru say the benefits of the suburban railway project announced on November 4 will take too long to reach them.
“More trains are required in cities that have more than one crore population. Every day the number of people coming to the city is increasing and many travel by public transport. If the suburban train (project) takes too long to be completed, it will become difficult for the commuters to travel. The railways should improve the existing facilities to benefit commuters,” Rathnapillai R, who works at a private firm, informed The Observer.
The main advantage of suburban rail is that it costs less for commuters than other rapid transit systems, according to Rail Indian Technical and Economic Services.
Param K, an IT company employee, said: “Suburban train is a great initiative to improve public transport in the city. Introducing suburban trains will decrease the number of vehicles on roads. People will start using more public transport, like the Metro. But the railways should ensure that connectivity is throughout major parts of the city, unlike passenger trains.”
Commuter Raj Kumar wants the railways to improve facilities in existing passenger trains. “Users have to wait for long to get a train if they miss one. The railways should do something about it. The local train, unlike the suburban train, does not stop at every station. If suburban trains are introduced, the frequency of services should be increased so it is easy for commuters.”
Vasanth, who owns a shop at the Baiyappanahalli railway station, shared: “A lot of people use the local train. It is very crowded during peak hours. Its frequency is very bad. A train comes every 40 to 50 minutes. If the frequency is increased, a lot of people will find it easy during the rush hours.” said.
Raushan Kumar, divisional commercial manager of South Western Railways, IRTS, said: “Suburban trains will help commuters in a lot of ways. The cabinet has to approve this project. Only then can it be completed within time.” He was responding to a query about a Deccan Chronicle report that said suburban trains will be introduced only by 2025.
According to reports published on November 5, 2019, the 148-km suburban project, with four corridors, was cleared by an extended Railway Board that included members from the finance ministry, Niti Aayog and the ministry of statistics and programme implementation. The proposal will be placed before the Union cabinet.
Sanjeev Dhyamanavar, an urban mobility expert, said: “We have proposed a plan to better the existing trains with automatic signalling which will run on a frequent basis. A plan for automatic signalling has been done for four stations for Rs200 crore (for 200 km) including Bangalore city to Whitefield (23 km). The proposal is pending…. Once it is cleared, more services will come in.”
Passenger rail services initially existed only for HAL employees to commute from the Bangalore City Railway station to Vimanapura. A modern system was proposed only in 2007.
Today, there are skeletal rail services in the city: MEMUs (Mainline Electric Multiple Units which serve short and medium routes) and DEMUs (Diesel Electric Multiple Units) that cover Baiyappanahalli, Bengaluru City KSR, Kuppam and Marikuppam. Owing to lack of frequency, local trains are is not favoured by commuters.
Citizens’ groups in Bengaluru have conducted several campaigns, like ‘Rail Beku’, ‘Modalu Train Beku’ and ‘ChukuBukuBeku’, for a suburban railway network.
Citizens recently signed a petition requesting railway minister Piyush Goyal to make changes to the existing infrastructure and not to start new work as it will take too long and will not help commuters. In September 2019, too, citizens signed a similar petition.