BENGALURU: Lakhs of IT professionals in the city as well as airport commuters can heave a sigh of relief as the Union Cabinet on Tuesday cleared two much awaited lines of the Bengaluru Metro’s Phase-II. The Phase-2A and Phase 2B lines which totally run to a distance of 58.19 km were approved at a cost of Rs 14,788 crore. The projected ridership on both the lines in 2026 is 7.7 lakhs.
Phase 2A runs to a distance of 19.75 km from Silk Board to KR Puram (Outer Ring Road Line) covering 13 stations while Phase 2B will connect KR Puram to Kempegowda International Airport via Hebbal for a distance of 38.44 km with 17 stations. While the need for a line to the airport from MG Road was first proposed by the Centre to Bengaluru Metro in February 2012, the ORR line was announced by then Chief Minister Siddaramiah in September 2016.
The lines have missed numerous deadlines right from conceptualization to the final clearance and have undergone a few route modifications.
There appeared to be inconsistencies with the deadline though. Union Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri who announced it first through his tweet stated that it would be completed in 54 months. However, in the presser by Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, he spelt out a 60-month deadline (five years).
In a virtual media briefing, Goyal said, “The people of Bengaluru will benefit hugely from this project and it will have a huge transformational benefit on the growth and economic progress of Karnataka.” It will transform travel in Bengaluru, from the airport to the city as well as to other areas including Whitefield, he added.
Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited Managing Director (in charge), Rakesh Singh said, “Much of the preparatory work for the line has already been completed. Tender evaluation for two packages of ORR has been completed and can be awarded in a week’s time. For the KR Puram-Airport Metro line, the due date for opening of the tenders is May 15 this year.” He added that innovative financing with private participation, monetization of assets and external funding from JICA and ADB would fund the line.
General Manager, Land Acquisitions, BMRCL, Channappagoudar, said, “The land acquisition has been completed for the ORR line. For the Phase-2B line, we have acquired 1,95,902 sqm of land out of 2,19,067 km,” he said.
Transport experts though were sceptical if the public would use it for the airport. Urban Transportation expert Sanjeev Dyammanavar said, "By the time the line would in reality be completed, it would be 2030 and the cost would shoot upto Rs 30,000 crore. With the numerous interchanges to be made and stoppages enroute, it would take people between 1.5 hrs and 2 hrs to reach from Silk Board to the airport. Also, there are no separate provisions for luggage like the Delhi Metro has."
M N Srihari, another expert, billed the new lines as extremely essential for the city, adding that the IT crowd would benefit alot. "With vehicles running at 9 km/hr during peak time on the crowded Outer Ring Road and the pollution there, it will really help the IT professionals to use the Metro. Airport users may not use it much as is the case with the new railway trains to airport as timeliness is the essence for flyers but those travelling on the route enroute would use it much," he said.