BENGALURU: Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw on Saturday urged the South Western Railway Zone to take steps to create a Mumbai Suburban Rail-like system in Bengaluru on priority. He was keen that it be put in place before 2024, said sources privy to different meetings the minister held in the city on Saturday.
The quadrupling project between Whitefield and Cantonment that is on now will allow more trains to be run in the city and on the outskirts. “The minister wanted the project speeded up so that it is ready by December 2023 and feasibility studies taken up along high-density corridors in the city for doubling, tripling or quadrupling projects to facilitate running of local trains. He was keen that it should be done before 2024,” said a senior official.
The minister was not pleased with the slow progress of the Bengaluru Suburban Rail Project (BRSB) and expressed apprehension whether the Karnataka Rail Infrastructure Development Enterprises (K-RIDE), a joint venture between the state and Railways, is equipped to handle the project, another official said. Tenders have been finalised for just one out of four proposed corridors (Baiyappanahalli to Chikkabanavar) and there is no sign of BRSB fully materialising any time in future. K-RIDE has hardly made any progress in the last 3.5 years.
The crucial doubling projects handed over to K-RIDE by the constructions division of South Western Railway too has not made much progress and there were talks of them being handed back to the Railways. These are Yesvantpur-Channasandra and the Baiyappanahalli-Hosur projects.
Earlier, Vaishnaw visited the KIA halt station and directed officials to take up doubling and auto-signalling along the Yelahanka-Devanahalli section to boost the capacity of the line to run more trains along with a crossing station at Doddajala. Transportation expert Sanjeev Dyamannavar explained to the minister the impact the automatic signalling could have on the section.
“A project was sent to the Railway Board in 2019 but was rejected and a second one was sent six months ago,” he told Vaishnaw. “Trains need not wait for clearance from railway officials as it will be fully automated,” he told The New Sunday Express.
Doubling between Hubballi and Bengaluru would be completed soon to facilitate running of Vande Bharat Express by March 2023, Vaishnaw said.