Metro the best option, but why not local trains?

Metro the best option, but why not local trains?

Metro the best option, but why not local trains?

Alternative roads to the Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) do exist, one through Hebbal flyover, another through Bagalur and a third from Old Madras Road via Budigere cross. Yet, commuters find a missing link: A railway or a Metro connection that can bypass road traffic.

Peak-hour traffic often brings the existing Airport Road to a virtual halt. The road's proximity to various industries and corporate offices makes it even worse. Commuters bound for the airport get caught in the congestion, missing flights.

A frequent flyer, Abhijith R Priyan, explains why a dedicated Metro line to the airport would be the best option: “If I'm going to the airport, I will obviously be carrying luggage. A passenger train will not suffice as they are crammed and infrequent. A Metro train will be faster and more convenient.”

A Metro train will become a reality only after six or more years. How about dedicated airport trains on the existing track, with a halt station near the Trumpet Flyover on Airport road? Commuters feel that would be an option only if trains that are faster and more comfortable are run on the line. They would prefer coaches operated under the Shatabdi or Rajdhani.

Srihari, a commuter who regularly travels on Airport road has this to say on the daily grind: “My friends and I travel from Majestic to Jakkur by bus. But we find it very difficult as crossing the Hebbal flyover itself takes us about two hours. If the Metro link materialises, we will benefit. But that would take another 10 years. We cannot wait. A passenger train would be a better idea.”

But there are also a number of people who do not mind waiting for the Metro because of the quality and frequency of the service. Others, who are aware of the existing railway track want trains introduced at the earliest to beat the Airport road traffic.

So, why are the government and railways reluctant to introduce airport trains on the track? A few commuters feel it could be because of the fear of losing out on the toll levied on the Airport road.

Sahakarnagar resident Manmohan Anand says he travels regularly to the airport and to Chikkaballapur. “I would rather have a passenger train that runs on that way. It would be cost-effective, less time-consuming and more convenient. Three to four trains from Devanahalli to Bengaluru would be effective,” Anand explains.

Traffic on Airport road has increased dramatically over the years. “The toll rates on the highway are very high. The charge of a single trip is Rs 125. There are no service roads for the localities, there is no other way apart from the main road,” points out Anand.

The Metro line, he says, would mean additional costs for land acquisition. “To not face any further problems, it would be a better idea to introduce local trains towards the airport,” he sums up.

The cost of a separate Metro line would work out to about Rs 6,000 crore, whereas a local train can be operationalised at a fraction of that cost and in quick time. “It sounds good to have a swift solution by getting a general railroad to the airport. It would be cost effective and takes less than half the time as that of the execution of the Metro project,” feels Sharan Sagar Vasudeva, a businessman.

He also talks about the need to find alternatives to the Airport road traffic with a sense of urgency. “The road gets congested when there is a rally or a public function at the Palace Grounds. During peak hours, the Hebbal junction is packed with vehicles causing huge traffic jams. This inconvenience has led to many missing their flights,” Vasudeva informs.