Halt! It's a local train

Halt! It's a local train

For lakhs of Bengalureans desperately seeking an escape route from the hyper-congested city roads, a full-fledged commuter rail system continues to be a distant dream. But small steps such as the recently opened Hoodi halt station are reminders that a local train network is the only way out.

Despite grumblings over its location, the halt station is proof that collective people's campaign could potentially help build a sustainable suburban network for the city in the future.

Thousands of IT professionals and labourers are already benefited by the halt station, located between the KR Puram and Whitefield stations. They now have two raised platforms and ticket counter, a far cry from the unauthorised halt point at the Whitefield Panel Cabin.

Long-distance trains

But in the absence of dedicated local trains apart from a very skeletal service, passengers still depend on long-distance trains. They know the road route cannot be an option if the aim is to reach their homes in Malleswaram, Vijayanagar or Kengeri in the shortest possible time from the IT hub Whitefield.

Eight trains to the city and eight heading outwards currently halt at the station. For Girish Ramaiah, who works in Unilever at the ITPL tech park four km from the station, the switch to train has drastically reduced his commute time. “Earlier, I used to spend two and a half hours on the road to reach my Malleswaram house. Now it is less than an hour,” he says.

Peak hour commute by road is a nightmare. After work, if a professional from ITPL is lucky enough to negotiate the clogged Hoodi junction and ITPL main road, a mammoth congestion awaits at the KR Puram junction. The chaos is matched only by the perennial jams at Kundanahalli and Marathahalli.

The rail option allows ITPL employees to completely bypass these notorious traffic bottlenecks. Boarding the available trains at the halt station, many alight at Baiyappanahalli to take the Metro. Many others proceed on the passenger trains to the city railway station.

Rationalise timings

The shift from road to rail will be dramatic even if a skeletal service of dedicated local trains is introduced with schedules in tune with office timings. This, assert several passengers on the route, should make a huge difference during the morning and evening peak hours.

Mallikarjun C G, a resident of Kengeri, commutes daily to ITPL. He explains how more frequent trains can help him reach home faster. “If I leave my office at 5.30 pm and catch a train by 5.55 pm, I can reach city railway station before 7 pm. The Mysuru train that leaves city at 7 pm will be ideal for me to reach Kengeri. But now, the Arakkonam passenger I get reaches the city station only at 7.15 pm.”

Last month, the South Western Railway introduced a Mainline Electric Multiple Unit (MEMU) service between Bangarpet and Baiyappanahalli. The objective was to mainly help the IT crowd in Whitefield shift to the Metro at Baiyappanahalli.

The MEMU, with its eight coaches, can take up to 1,600 passengers. The plan was good, but there was a big scheduling flaw. The train leaves Bangarpet at 3.55 pm, reaching Baiyappanahalli at 5.10 pm. But most IT companies in ITPL and other Whitefield locations close only at 5.00 or 5.30 pm. It passes the critical Hoodi halt station at 4.50 pm, too early for the IT crowd.

Similar issues plague the Ramanagaram-City services as well. The arrival and departure times at key stations bypass the crucial office closure hours, minimising the benefit for the workforce.

Increase frequency

However, all these problems will disappear if the frequency of dedicated local trains is increased, contends Roopa Dave, an IT professional from Whitefield.

“A lot of people are forced to take long-distance trains that end up halting abruptly for crossings. They are not dependable,” she says.  

But Roopa has another problem, articulated by many others who find the new Hoodi halt station’s location too far from their workplace. Roopa has her office right inside the Prestige Shantiniketan, a stone’s throwaway from the spot where trains used to stop before the new station came up.

The Railways and Bengaluru Central MP P C Mohan, who donated Rs 2.87 crore from his MPLAD fund for the Hoodi halt station, however preferred the new location for its better road connectivity.

More halt stations

Yet, the station has made a big difference for commuters. Now, imagine the cascading benefits of a city-wide network of such stations. For instance, a station on the Devanahalli-Chikkaballapur line near the Airport Trumpet flyover could benefit thousands of commuters to the Kempegowda International Airport and nearby areas.

A halt station at Munekollela on the Hosur line can help commuters bound for Electronics City and beyond. Only six km separate the Heelalige station and Electronics City, a distance that can be easily bridged through dedicated shuttle bus services. On the Baiyappanahalli-Yeshwantpur line, halts at Varthur Road and Chandapur Road can give commuters a viable and faster connect to workplaces at Manyata Tech Park. This could decongest the Outer Ring Road stretch.


A railway halt station can work efficiently only if there is good last-mile connectivity. For the IT crowd, the distance between the Hoodi station and ITPL is much more than a mile. Implication: They have to depend on BMTC buses or autorickshaws.

Currently, a BMTC shuttle service runs from ITPL bus bay at 4 pm to reach in time for the Bangarpet-KSR Bengaluru DEMU train. The train arrives at the Hoodi station at 4.32 pm. However, this service is unavailable for the big crowd headed to the station after IT offices close at 5.30 pm.

Rail commuters have suggested a BMTC circular bus service to pick up people from multiple locations and get to the halt station. One route on their agenda goes from Hoodi Station to Hope Farm, proceeding to Varthur Kodi, Kundanahalli Gate and back to the halt station. 

Autorickshaws are available at the halt station. But they charge a premium to even get to the Hoodi Junction, about 500 metres away. When trains used to stop near Prestige Shantiniketan, many IT employees had arranged their own shuttle bus services. That is yet to take off at the new station.


Bengaluru needs a full-fledged suburban rail network and not half measures, say most commuters who prefer rail travel to the congested roads. The move to link long-distance and the skeletal local train services to the Metro, they say, is flawed.
Here’s why: The local DEMU, MEMU and other trains run by the railways carry thousands of passengers. This service cannot be replaced by Metro trains that are more expensive and carry much fewer commuters.

A MEMU train from Bangarpet to Baiyappanahalli has already been introduced. But passengers wonder why they are forced to shift to the Metro at Baiyappanahalli instead of heading straight to Bangalore East, Cantonment and City Railway Stations by the same train. 

However, the switchover will benefit those heading towards Indiranagar, Halasuru, MG Road and other inner city areas. Once the Metro Green Line is fully integrated to the Purple Line, commuters from Whitefield could get to Jayanagar, JP Nagar and other locations in the south of the city.


Forty per cent of Bengaluru’s urban commuters will switch over to commuter rail, dramatically decongesting the city roads. How can this happen?

By introducing a full-fledged suburban system covering 440 km and integrating it with the Metro and BMTC services, according to Sanjeev Dyamannavar, an urban rail analyst.

This, he says, can happen if 266 round trips are introduced in all the routes that connect Bengaluru with Chikkaballapur, Kolar, Doddaballapur, Tumakuru, Nelamangala, Hosur and Ramanagaram.

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