Rail connectivity and infrastructure is inadequate in Karnataka and the state is way behind Gujarat, West Bengal and other states in terms of railway network per every 1,000 sq km and number of trains connecting important cities.
According to the data obtained from Karnataka Infrastructure Department, many districts in the state do not have direct rail connectivity to important cities outside the state and more than 80 taluks do not have any sort of rail connectivity.
The total length of the railway line in the state as in 2009, when a report on rail infrastructure was prepared, was around 3,250 km, which is much less than 5,328 km of Gujarat, Maharashtra (5,535 km) and Andhra Pradesh (5,172 km).
Though Tamil Nadu has a square area of 1,30,058 sq km, which is much less than the area of Karnataka (1,91,791 sq km), it has 4,131 km of railway lines. When the railway line is divided against the square area of each state, Karnataka has 16.9 km of railway line for every 1,000 square km whereas Kerala has 27 km and Tamil Nadu has 31 km. According to railway sources, Gujarat and Bengal have around 36 km of railway line for every 1,000 square km.
The state is not only lagging behind in rail connectivity but also in the frequency of trains in most of the routes and also in the electrification of the railway lines. Though Mysore-Bangalore and Bangalore-Hubli/Dharwad are considered to be highly populated zones and high potential business routes, only 25 to 30 trains are running in these routes every day. In some routes like Kanpur-Lucknow, more than 120 trains run every day and 55 trains run between Mumbai and Ahmedabad everyday.
The state has around 138 km of electrified lines, which is just 4.2 per cent of the existing railway line. Whereas in Andhra Pradesh, more than 46 per cent of its railway line is electrified, Kerala 51 per cent, Tamil Nadu 28.4 per cent and more than 37 per cent in Maharashtra. Electrification facilitates the introduction of faster trains.
Rail Yathri Sangh convenor D K Bhatt said: “If the state is lagging behind in rail infrastructure it is only because of lack of political will. I have taken up this issue with 28 parliamentarians from the state and have written to them whenever the situation warranted. The state government has not even sent a memorandum to place its demands before the railway board this year.”