Railways had agreed to run trains to some destinations

Railways had agreed to run trains to some destinations

Contrary to rumblings about the Railways not being too keen on the Commuter Rail Service project, railway officials say they had agreed early on running the trains to some destinations, provided the State government was willing to supply the rakes.

Bangalore Division Railway manager Sudhanshu Mani says the RITES study was a definitive move forward as it would correctly assess the feasibility of running commuter trains to short distances. “The earlier studies were done by independent agencies and tended to be one sided. We are really looking forward to introducing some trains, keeping the Metro expansion in mind,” he says.

Mani says though the stations, especially the Bangalore City station, are congested and almost saturated, there is sense in running some trains outwards. For example, trains leaving from Baiyappanahalli to outside Bangalore or outwards from Yeshwantpur to Tumkur.

There is a lot of demand to run trains towards Hosur and Mandya from Bangalore as there are only two trains in the morning. Even though it will put pressure on the stations, it is possible, Mani comments.

All these routes will run on the existing lines.

While it is not clear what might emerge out of the RITES report, the Railways expects infrastructural improvements and construction of maintenance facilities to accommodate suburban trains.

That the railways is interested is crucial as the lines and the land belong to them and nothing can be done if they choose not to go ahead, according to T G Sitharam, chairman of the Centre for Infrastructure, Sustainable Transportation and Urban Planning (CiSTUP).

“There is no question that a city like Bangalore does need the commuter rail in addition to other mass rapid transit systems. But the focus of the Railways is on long-distance trains, so it will take the efforts of the State government and keep up the pressure,” Sitharam says.

The financial viability of these services has to be carefully considered as well. And though the Railways is presently non- committal on the issue, experts say like any other new initiative, losses are to expected until the services becomes popular.

The proposal to have a commuter rail or a suburban rail system for Bangalore has been around for decades now, but it took a concrete shape only last year. One of the announcements made during the Railway budget for 2011-12 was the Railways’ willingness to implement commuter rail, if a request was forwarded by the states.

This was followed by meetings between the Directorate of Urban Land Transport representing the state and the Railway officials. In the first week of November, it was decided to assign RITES the study of Comprehensive Assessment of Rail Facilities and Requirements.

A draft report is expected to be ready by February and once the State government accepts it, the Railways are also expected to act upon the report.

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