Railways to green-light 2 suburban rail projects

Railways to green-light 2 suburban rail projects

The Whitefield line will allow railways to introduce more suburban services and smooth running of long-distancetrains. FILE PHOTO

Work on two key railway projects that will boost suburban rail connectivity, including the quadrupling of Cantonment-Whitefield railway line, will begin soon with the South Western Railway (SWR) in the final stage of preparing tender documents.

SWR chief administration officer K C Swami said they have received approvals for the estimated cost of the two projects.

He said the quadrupling work is estimated to cost Rs 493 crore and the cost of doubling the Yeshwantpur-Channasandra line (21.7 km) is estimated at Rs 314 crore.

The move comes a month after officials floated tenders for doubling of the Baiyappanahalli-Hosur line (48-km) at an estimated cost of Rs 376 crore.

While the Channasandra doubling will complement both Hosur and Byappanahalli routes, the Whitefield line will allow railways to introduce more suburban services and smooth running of long-distance trains.

The Cantonment-Whitefield stretch will also have automatic signalling. This is crucial for the stretch as both Cantonment and Baiyappanahalli handle high traffic in peak hours.

“By June, we hope to have three platforms at the third coaching terminal, which will further ease train operations on the route,” he said.

2021 deadline

The three projects are crucial for the running of local trains, without having to wait for the 161-km suburban rail project.

Senior officials said the Channasandra doubling work would be completed by end of 2021 but they were yet to decide on a deadline for quadrupling the Whitefield line.

“We have several challenges with regard to Whitefield line, including the handing over of the defence land for the road overbridge at the Baiyappanahalli level crossing. Tenders will be called in several packages as the project includes automatic signalling work,” an official said.

Urban transport activist Sanjeev Dyamannavar said the railways should implement the projects with a futuristic vision and acquire adequate land to meet future demands.

“The coaching terminal can turn Baiyappanahalli into a major hub. Adequate lines should be planned to connect it with the railway station. Railways should give equal importance to automatic signalling for increasing line capacity,” he said.

JV to be formed

The state government has written to the railways to deposit Rs 2.45 crore to form the joint venture (JV) for the suburban rail project. “The JV, once formed, will set up the special purpose vehicle, which will be the implementing agency,” senior officials in the government said.

The Railway Board had recently agreed to the state government’s request to hold majority shares of 51%. The full-fledged suburban rail project is estimated to cost Rs 17,000 crore and officials in the state government believe that the majority stake will help them decide on fares, which will be fixed to ensure the operation of local trains will be economically feasible.