Wait for suburban rail gets longer

Wait for suburban rail gets longer

Nearly a year after signing a memorandum of understanding on the suburban railway, a special purpose vehicle (SPV) to implement the project is yet to be constituted.

The state government had sent a draft SPV to the South Western Railway several months ago, but is yet to get a response. It is estimated that Phase 1 of the project, focusing on the Tumakuru, Bangarpet and Mandya lines, will cost Rs 10,000 crore.

An SPV, with dedicated human resource, can play an effective role in planning and implementing the project. The state government set aside Rs 345 crore in the budget for implementing the suburban rail.

The Directorate of Urban Land Transport (DULT), the nodal agency tasked to implement the project, sent a proposal on constituting an SPV by mid-2017.

"The railways has asked us to identify projects of high priority before forming an SPV, which will have officials from the state and the South Western Railway. Consultations are going on with railway officials to shortlist such projects. The SPV will come into existence soon," DULT commissioner Darpan Jain said.

2019 deadline  

The government has further divided Phase 1 to utilise the allocated money and set 2019 as the deadline for Phase 1A, under which Rs 278 crore will be spent on converting 15 diesel trains into electric ones. Also, Rs 25 crore has been allocated for the construction of a MEMU maintenance shed at Banaswadi.

A senior railway official said the ministry may wait till the budget presentation to take a call on the SPV, which involves huge funding. "The ministry is focused on the modernisation of the railways and electrification of tracks. Though the state government will share 80% of the project cost under the new suburban rail policy, the ministry will take its time before deciding on allocating the resources," he said.

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