Upgrade services before scaling up: Train commuters

Upgrade services before scaling up: Train commuters

The switch to the suburban trains is more pronounced on the city's congested IT corridors that includes Carmelaram, Bellandur, Outer Ring Road, Whitefield, Kadugodi and other locations in East Bengaluru.

High voltage campaigns by citizen activists promoting the use of suburban trains have had an effect: Scores of office-goers are now taking these trains, wherever available. But a majority of these converts to rail want the service to be augmented.

The switch to the suburban trains is more pronounced on the city's congested IT corridors that includes Carmelaram, Bellandur, Outer Ring Road, Whitefield, Kadugodi and other locations in East Bengaluru.

These areas normally get gridlocked during peak hours. Many find the trains a quick escape route, although they lament the lack of last mile connectivity at most railways stations in the vicinity.

“I use the train frequently from K R Puram to Hoodi halt station. Instead of taking a bus, I take a train as it beats the traffic. I take a bus or an auto from Hoodi till Satya Sai Hospital to work. But last mile connectivity is a major concern,” says Namratha Nayak, a corporate professional from K R Puram.

Frequent travellers on these trains have a common grouse: The government is focussing only on improvement of long distance trains and has completely abandoned trains linking the suburbs with the city proper.

A reality check by DH shows that if a passenger boards a train at Whitefield railway station, it hardly takes 17 minutes to reach the Baiyappanahalli station, 35 minutes to Cantonment and only 50 minutes to hit the KSR Bengaluru City station. But if the same passenger takes a bus from Whitefield to Majestic, the journey cannot be completed in less than three hours.

A frequent traveller based in Whitefied, Sandeep Anirudhan finds train travel the most comfortable. “I can work on my laptop during the journey. It is so smooth, jerk-free and pollution-free,” he points out.

Since the automatic signalling has been completed between Majestic and Whitefield, the capacity of the track has been doubled. “There are MEMU rakes lying idle all day at many stations. A viable solution is to run a push-pull service between Cantonment and Whitefield,” he suggests.

This service can go up and down all day every 15 minutes or ever half an hour. “This makes it possible for people to plan trips by train, without the uncertainty they face now.”

For Santhosh Byle, who works in Electronics City, upgrading the stations of Hebbal, Bellandur Road and Heelalige is the need of the hour. Doubling the Yeswanthpura – Baiyappanahalli line is also critical.

“Basic infrastructure to run suburban trains is doubling and electrification of tracks. The line between Baiyyappanahalli and Hosur touches companies around Outer Ring Road, Sarjapur Road and Electronics City. It will be a great benefit if this line gets doubled. Currently, it is a single line and there are huge delays during travelling, waiting for crossings at stations,” he explains.

Residents also want a suburban train on the Yeswanthpura – Baiyappanahalli - Whitefield route. Various citizen groups have been urging Bengaluru Central MP, P C Mohan to take this forward. Introducing this line, they contend, will help Whitefield people to switch over to the Metro at Baiyappanahalli, from where they can hit their respective offices. It will also help people from non-Metro areas such as Lottegollahalli, Hebbal and other places to reach Whitefield easily.

Naren, a frequent train user, had this to say on the suburban project: “Instead of blowing the project out of proportion and then finding complexities, the focus currently should be on improvement of available stations, increasing line capacity (automatic signalling, doubling and electrification) and adding infrastructure to halt these trains in Bengaluru and its suburbs.”