BENGALURU: Thanks to coronavirus-induced labour shortage, the construction of proposed Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) halt station still remains incomplete.
The opening of the railway station has now been put off to next month, thereby missing a series of deadlines since December 2019. The station, which lies 4.5 km from the airport, will be of critical importance to air passengers as well as airport employees.
The halt station, coming up at a cost of Rs 3 crore, on the Yelahanka-Chikkaballapur Line is positioned between Yelahanka and Devanahalli railway stations. Airport operator, Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) is carrying out construction work on land provided by the Railways.
A senior railway official told TNIE, "We are confident of declaring the station open any time after mid-September. It has got delayed due to various reasons including labour availability."
The station building will have a platform, shelter for it, a ticketing counter, ramp, open parking, 10 water sinks, 10 benches, toilets and an approach road, he added.
Railways had given an in-principle approval to BIAL to go ahead with construction in June 2019 with December 2019 set as the initial deadline. It was postponed to the end of February 2020, then April 10 was fixed as the opening date. With work grinding to a halt due to the national lockdown and the COVID-19
epidemic, the fresh deadline given was August which now stands postponed.
Divisional Railway Manager, Bengaluru Division, Ashok Kumar Verma told TNIE, “No one has given us any target to open the station. These are deadlines we are trying to meet. Among other reasons, there is a labour crunch due to the Corona epidemic. However, the delay is not going to affect anyone as regular suburban services are not operational anywhere in the country.”
Asked about the trains to be operated here, he said that three pairs of trains which already run along the routes will stop here, he added.
The two pairs of passenger trains that used to run along the Kolar-Yelahanka line as well as one pair that ran along the Whitefield and Kolar line will stop here, another official said.
On the proposed shuttle services from the halt station to the airport, a senior BMTC official told TNIE, "We have still not finalised any schedule with BIAL and Railways. This is a different kind of operation in which we need many buses at one time at the spot. Only after the specific trains that will halt here are finalized, will BMTC be able to narrow down on the exact number of buses required."
Asked if it would be a free shuttle service, the official added, “I don’t think so. As of now, I think it will only be paid for by passengers.”
BIAL refrained from any comment.