Commuters from Mysuru side left in the lurch

Although RITES had submitted its feasibility report way back in 2012 and chalked out details for Phase I A to provide the much-needed connectivity between Bengaluru and its suburbs, commuters have been left in the cold.

On the Mysuru side, the report had worked out details to connect Nayandanhalli, Jnanabharathi, Kengeri, Hejjala, Bidadi, and Ramanagar with Bengaluru city and  cantonment stations. At the time of submission of the feasibility report, the cost of phase I was projected at Rs 174 crore. However, the delay has escalated the cost manifold. Back then, the State government had also sanctioned Rs 200 crore to build 29 rail underbridges and overbridges across the City, where the tracks intersect roads.

Since the project has remained only on paper, thousands of commuters are forced to travel everyday either by buses paying hefty fares or by trains for half of their journey. For the remainder of the journey, they have to depend on autorickshaws or their own vehicles parked in the city to reach their workplaces.

Rakesh S, who travels daily from Bidadi to the heart of Bengaluru, has this to say on the project: “It is high time that the suburban rail project started. Commuter trains will not only take the pressure off road transport but also ease the arduous journey that we commuters experience while travelling from suburbs such as Bidadi. Besides, it also reduces travel time and gives us much-needed relief from the unpredictable traffic ordeals.”

Savitha, a clerk in Vidhana Soudha, travels daily by one of the passenger trains from Ramanagar till the City station, before taking a bus to reach her office. She says, “We have been waiting for suburban rail connectivity for so many years now. Officials have been talking about it for so long but it has only been a lip service so far. One of the biggest problems that we commuters from Mysuru side face is that many a time, trains don’t get signal clearance due to long distance trains passing by. Trains from Mysuru side will be halted near Nayandanahalli for hours. Since a large number of commuters in the morning trains are office-goers, we invariably get late to work.”

Another suburban commuter, Raghavan is an employee of BSNL in the City. A resident of Mandya, he commutes daily by BMTC and KSRTC buses. He explains his daily ordeal: “Every day,  I end up spending around Rs 100-150 on commuting. If there was suburban rail connectivity, I would not only be saving time but also travelling at less than one fourth of this cost.”

Putting things in perspective, Parkash Mandoth, a former member of the Users’ Consultative Committee analyses the issue, “Migration of youths from towns for work, skyrocketing house rent in the City, traffic jams in the City are some of the problems which can be easily tackled by early implemention of the Commuter Rail.”

He suggests doubling and electrification of the vast railway network in and around the city’s Outer Ring Road. Besides, a few additional railway stations will have to be constructed. “Introduction of the suburban services will benefit officegoers, labourers, students etc besides also reducing accidents, traffic bottle necks and controlling pollution.”

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