From road to rail, City's next leap

There is an urgent requirement of commuter rail for Bangalore. Different transport authorities need to work in tandem to achieve the task.

From road to rail, City's next leap

Trapped in the middle of a humongous traffic jam, you might be left cursing your fate, your roads, the traffic police, the State government and the vehicles that keep invading the City’s overburdened roads.

And then you look up to those Namma Metro pillars, promising you the glitzy urban rail, a dreamlike escape from the mundane, hellish ride down below.

Yes, there seems no escape for Bangaloreans but harbour their collective hopes on those 114 kilometres of Metro lines, and fancy the 405-km Commuter Rail System (CRS) starts chugging with the 60-km Light Rail Transit (LRT).

So, if Bangalore makes that decisive shift from road to rail, commuters can breathe free. That is a real possibility, because the draft report on implementing the CRS has been submitted to the Directorate of Urban Land Transport (DULT), the Namma Metro is gathering steam with trial runs of the Green Line, and the Detailed Project Report (DPR) on the LRT is under progress.

Also in the pipeline is the high-speed rail link to Bengaluru International Airport (BIA), to be implemented by the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL). Combine all these rail systems and you are looking at adding an impressive 515 km to the City.
This will be besides the existing rail network of the South Western Railway.

Yet, the projects aren’t without challenges. The issue now is whether these ongoing and proposed “projects on wheels” are feasible or adequate to meet the commuting needs of a City that continues to clock mindboggling growth. Does this network of different rail services help us tackle the mega challenge of decongesting the City? If so, what precautions should our civic agencies and the State government take while executing these projects?

Deccan Herald spoke to civic experts, traffic experts, government officials and the common man himself to throw more light. Nilanjana R, an urban planner, is convinced that boosting public transport is a must, simply because the population density of the Silicon City is set for a steep hike in the coming decades.

While the present population of Bangalore district is around 95 lakh as per the 2011 census, the projected population for 2031 is a whopping 118 lakh! The population density in the City, which was 2,985 per sq km in 2011 census, has crossed 4,378 as per 2011 census. In the coming years, Bangalore will only get denser.

More rail services, she says, would definitely be better since it is a cheaper and better mode of public transport.

RITES (Rail India Technical and Economic Services), in its draft report on commuter rail, mentions that Bangalore has not yet actively tapped the huge potential the railway system has. The Mumbai suburban and Chennai suburban trains’ share of their city’s public transport needs no explanation, the report notes.

The report also talks about how a passenger-friendly rail system could decongest Bangalore by bringing commuters from the suburban areas into the City and take them back within a span of a maximum 90 minutes. Commuter traffic mainly originates at the suburban hamlets or towns and satellite cities situated at a distance ranging between 30 km and 100 km from the main hub Bangalore.

As such requirement cannot be met either by road or by monorail or by Metro, there is an urgent requirement of commuter rail for Bangalore. Different transport authorities need to work in tandem to achieve this, the report says.

The different civic agencies are required to co-ordinate efficiently to implement the different rail-related projects. Bangalore Airport Rail Link (BARL) Director (Projects) C Jayaram says, irrespective of the rail or any public transport project, civic authorities have been directed by the government to be in tune with the Comprehensive Traffic and Transportation Plan (CTTP) as well as the Comprehensive Development Plan 2015.

“The CTTP is like the Bible for all civic agencies and we ensure that our plan didn’t violate the guidelines in it. For example, we have made sure that LRT intersects the Metro corridor and other mass rapid systems for better connectivity. Further, LRT and other rail projects have been drawn up after a detailed analysis of the traffic density and a field survey,” says Jayaram.

On the draft report of the commuter rail, DULT commissioner V Manjula says at the project report level they should make it sure that opinions of all stakeholders connected with the project are taken. “We have already circulated the draft report on commuter rail to the South Western Railway, BBMP, transport department, etc. Only after receiving the opinion of the respective stakeholders, we will move towards finalising the report,” she says.

According to Mahesh H S, another urban planner, developing a rail network is a welcome move, but one should agree that no single mode of commuting, be it rail or road or metro rail, can fully gratify the commuting needs of Bangalore. BMTC buses, which are the traditionally preferred means of transport for commoners, should be made better use of as a supplement feeder network for the upcoming rail network. The best possible mix of different modes of public transport should be the approach for any urban planning.

Growth centres such as Mandya, Ramanagaram, Hosur, Hoskote, Tumkur, and Bangarapet surrounding Bangalore City should also be kept in mind while planning public transport for Bangalore. Only then the pressure on Bangalore will ease, he contends.

Namma Metro

* Length: Phase 1 (42.3 km), Phase 2 (72.09 km)=114.39 km
* Connectivity: Considering Majestic as the starting point till Whitefield in the east, Kengeri in the west, BIEC along Tumkur Road in the north and Anjanapura Township  in the south. Also, two new lanes under phase 2, namely from Jayanagar to Electronics City and Nagavara to Gottigere
* Estimated cost:  Phase 1 (Rs 11,609 crore) and Phase 2 (Rs 25,000 crore) = Rs 36,609 crore
* Status: 6.7 km under phase 1 operational, and DPR for phase 2 accepted
* Expected date of completion: Phase 1 by May 2014 and Phase 2 by 2017-18

High-speed rail

* Length: 35 km, estimated cost: Rs 6,000 crore
* Connectivity: MG Road to Bengaluru International Airport
* Status: Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation has been as signed to take up the project task with Central assistance
* Expected date of completion: Not yet set

Commuter rail

* Length: Projected 405.60 km
* Connectivity: To connect Bangalore City with suburbs in  the districts, namely Bangalore Rural, Mandya, Kolar, Chikkaballapur and Tumkur
* Estimated cost: Not yet set
* Status: Draft project report under State government review
* Expected date of completion: Not yet set

LRT/Monorail

* Length: 60 km (includes 41.3 km of light rail transit (LRT)
* Connectivity: Two out of five corridors under LRT:
JP Nagar to Hebbal and Toll Gate on Magadi Road up to the proposed peripheral ring road. Other corridors
include Jaraganahalli to Cantonment, Kathriguppe Road to National College and Hosur Road to Bannerghatta.
* Estimated cost:  Rs 6,400 crore for LRT
* Status: DPR under progress for LRT corridors
* Expected date of completion: Not yet set

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