B'luru-Hassan rail line by March 2016

B'luru-Hassan rail line by March 2016

B'luru-Hassan rail line by March 2016

Work on the new Bengaluru-Hassan broad gauge rail line has picked up the pace and the track is expected to be opened by March 2016.

The line will connect Bengaluru with Hassan via Nelamangala, Kunigal, Yediyur and Shravanabelagola and the total length of the track would be 179.28 km. The alignment of the new track is almost parallel to the National Highway 48 (Bengaluru-Mangaluru).

Similarly, work on the 122-km single-track rail line is also going on. Test runs are being conducted between Shravanabelagola and Yediyur covering 47 km. Nearly 70-80 per cent of the track work is over in the entire stretch, according to officials executing the project.
The Hassan-Shravanabelagola line, running 44 km, was opened in 2006. But the project didn’t move further until 2010 for shortage of funds and land. The total cost of the project is Rs 1,290 crore.

The project was sanctioned way back in 1996-97 when the current Hassan MP, H D Deve Gowda, was prime minister. In 2010, the B S Yeddyurappa government, in a bid to give a push to the long-pending project, agreed to bear half of the project cost. By that time, the railways had spent Rs 355 crore. The project gathered pace from 2010 onwards.

Another bottleneck was overcome when Chief Minister Siddaramaiah stood firm on acquiring a portion of the Kunigal stud farm, for laying 1.05 km of track. And now the track bed is ready. Businessman Vijay Mallya has taken 400 acres of government land in exchange for part of the stud farm.

Tunnel 30 metres down

One of the highlights of the Bengaluru-Hassan railway line is the tunnel being constructed at Marur village in Biskur forest area, between Nelamangala and Kunigal. The one-km-long tunnel is located almost 30 metres below the ground level in the not-so-dense forest area. In other places, the line runs at the surface level or in deep cuts.

The carving of the tunnel using the blast method began a year ago and is set to be over this September, according to N Subramanian, Assistant Executive Engineer of the railways, who is supervising part of the project.

The topography and environmental issues have made the railways to construct the tunnel, which resembles any of those beautiful railway tunnels on the Sakleshpur railway line. But the new line is going to have just one tunnel. This work is being done by a contractor from Andhra Pradesh. The quality of rocks differs from one place to another in the stretch. Hence, blasting and drilling are being done carefully, Subramanian said.

Meanwhile, the railways is finding it difficult to acquire about six acres of land in two villages – Kannasandra and Narasandra of Ramanagar district – for the project. Besides, 40 acres more are required to build approach roads.

The new law on land acquisition would make the railways to spend more on acquiring the required land. A visit to the construction sites gives an impression that a lot more work is on hand. But officials are confident the line would be opened by March 2016. Anyhow, the railways has not set any deadline for the project.

Railway officials argue the new line would be socially desirable than financially viable.
Kunigal is not on railway map and there is no direct train from Bengaluru to Hassan. If freight movement begins from Bengaluru to Mangaluru, the line would become viable, sources said.

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