Wait for politicos delays electric trains on Bengaluru-Mysuru line

Inauguration put off twice; PM may open service by month-end

Wait for politicos delays electric trains on Bengaluru-Mysuru line

It has been more than a month since the Railways got the green signal from the safety authority to run electric trains between Bengaluru and Mysuru. But the wait for dignitaries has led to postponement of the inauguration of the service.

The inaugural programme was supposed to see conversion of the Shatabdi Express into an electric train on the Bengaluru-Mysuru stretch, saving 14,000 litres of diesel every day. A one-way trip to Mysuru costs about Rs 40,000 for the Railways, which spends Rs 57.20 per litre of diesel.

"Even after the electrified tracks are ready, they are wasting time changing the locomotive of the Mysuru-Chennai Shatabdi Express from electric to diesel in Bengaluru, which is a clear waste of money too," said Krishna Prasad of Karnataka Railway Vedike.

Officials in South Western Railway, who had set 2017 end as the deadline for commissioning of electrification works, had tentatively scheduled the inauguration programme for December 26.

However, even as Railway officials put in extra hours on preparation for the inaugural function, the event was postponed to January 6 at the 11th hour.

A senior official said the programme was postponed again to the last week of the month. "We have conducted trial-runs on the track. Everything is set. We are also waiting for the inauguration," the official said.

Sources said BJP leaders in the state were keen on getting the project inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Mysuru MP Pratap Simha, who was recently quoted as saying that Modi will inaugurate electrification works by the end of the month, could not be reached for comment.

T P Lokesh, another member of the Vedike, said the Railways had earlier commissioned many works regardless of the formal inauguration.

"Key projects that save time and cost should not wait for political leaders. Railways should have commissioned the electric line, keeping in mind the convenience of the people and spending of public money," he said.

Bengaluru Central MP P C Mohan, however, said there was no delay. "Some minor works will be pending, which must have caused a slight delay. The present government at the Centre has given more funds and delivered on its promises compared to the previous regimes. The electric line works will be commissioned soon," he said.

By March, SWR wants to run at least three express and passenger trains each on electricity. Officials said the delay in commissioning would not affect their plans for the next three months.

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New trains likely

Two new trains, including a MEMU train, are expected to be announced during the inauguration of the electric line.

While the MEMU train may provide an alternative to the Karwar Express, which will run via the new Hassan line four days a week from February instead of Mysuru, the arrival of an Humsafar train has led to speculations that it might run up to Delhi or Hyderabad.

Kodikunnil Suresh, an MP from Kerala, told DH in Kochi that the Railway Board had given in-principle approval for running a weekly train between Kochuveli and Mysuru, a proposal pending for years. "The Railways has indicated that matters like frequency of the train will be sorted out by mid-January," he said.

 

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