Bengaluru’s first suburban rail section to be operational by 2025-end

Manjula N, Secretary to Government, Infrastructure Development, Ports, and Inland Water Transport Department, and Managing Director of K-RIDE spoke to DH about how the project is progressing and when Bengalureans can expect to reap its benefits.
Last Updated : 12 May 2024, 02:41 IST
Last Updated : 12 May 2024, 02:41 IST

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Bengaluru: The idea of a suburban rail for Bengaluru has been in the talks for decades, but only in the last couple of years has concrete progress been made, bringing the project closer to reality. In a city where private vehicle ownership is rapidly increasing, the addition of another public transportation option is a welcome addition. However, the slow pace of execution of the Bengaluru Suburban Rail Project (BSRP) is a worrying factor. Manjula N, Secretary to Government, Infrastructure Development, Ports, and Inland Water Transport Department, and Managing Director of K-RIDE spoke to DH about how the project is progressing and when Bengalureans can expect to reap its benefits.


The foundation stone was laid for BSRP in June 2022 but works for only two of the four corridors have been tendered. What is the current deadline?

There was an initial delay of a year due to the second and third Covid-19 waves and resolving various issues like the approval of alignment, handing over of railway land and other issues with the stakeholders. This being a multi-stakeholder project, immense efforts have gone into resolving various convergence issues. The project is being thoroughly monitored at the highest levels. The chief secretary of Karnataka himself is holding a periodic review to ensure seamless progress of the project. As a result, the physical work on Corridor-2 is progressing in full swing. Corridor-2’s 7.4-km Section 4 from Chikkabanavara to Yeshwantpur will be the first to be completed and commissioned by December 2025.  As per the present status, the project is scheduled to be completed by December 2027.

Currently, it looks like work is underway only on one corridor. What factors are contributing to the delay, and where does the project stand now?

The tender for civil works for Corridor-4 was awarded on December 30, 2023. The land from the railways was leased on April 2, 2024. Pre-construction activities, such as survey, drone video, light detection, ranging survey and GPR survey were completed. The alignment plan and designs are under progress. Mobilisation of resources and manpower is moving at a brisk pace. About 52% S&T utility shifting work has been completed and electrical utility shifting tenders have been awarded. Corridor-1 will be funded through a loan amount. The bid documents have been submitted to the funding agency and bids will be invited after obtaining “No objection” from the funding agency. The alignment of Corridor-1 has been submitted to SWR for approval.

Have you established a timetable for commissioning the various corridors?

Yes. Corridor 2 is expected to be completed by June 2026, Corridor-4 by December 26, and the other two corridors by December 27.

How is the funding aspect progressing? Does K-RIDE have a plan in place to source the entire project cost? Could you elaborate?

For the Bengaluru Suburban Rail project, Germany’s KfW Development Bank and EIB are the external funding agencies apart from the equity share of Government of Karnataka and Ministry of Railways and the Government of India. KfW, Germany is funding €500 million for which a loan agreement has already been signed on December 15, 2023. European Investment Bank, Luxembourg, is funding € 300 million. Environment and Social Impact Assessment (EIA & SIA) reports have been finalised and approved. The signing of the loan agreement is expected anytime now. Once the agreement is signed the tenders for depots, C1 civil work including stations, C4 stations, system works etc will be invited.

What mechanisms have you put in place to coordinate with BMTC and BMRCL to ensure seamless commuting for Bengalureans?

BSRP will have 58 new stations in its 148.17-km network. In order to have a seamless movement of commuters with various modes of transport, K-RIDE is planning to have multi-modal integration with metro, BMTC, major railway stations, bus terminals etc. BSRP stations are planned and designed to have bus bays, car bays, electrical vehicle charging infrastructure in its stations, etc.

Do you have concrete plans for multi-mode hubs that will include the suburban rail?

The BSRP’s Hebbal station is planned in such a way that it will connect the upcoming multi-modal transport hub, metro, bus depots, and metro. This will have seamless integration of various modes of transport. BSRP’s Bangalore City, Yeshwantpur, Benniganahalli stations will be integrated with metro, railway stations and bus depots/stations. At other stations also, it is planned to provide seamless connectivity to various modes of transport. 

Could you tell us a bit about the designs of the trains and whether any overseas help has been sought to generate ideas? Or have there been any collaborations with the makers of Vande Bharat trains? Will trains for K-RIDE look similar?

The trains for the BSRP will be air-conditioned and similar to metro coaches. According to the BSRP’s sanction, the rolling stock is to be procured through a public-private partnership (PPP) model. Accordingly, tenders were invited in two stages: request for qualification (RFQ) and request for proposal (RFP). In the first stage, RFQ, three bidders qualified: BHEL, BEML, and CAF/Spain. The second stage, RFP, was initiated on December 29, 2023, with a pre-bid meeting held on March 15, 2024. The last date of submission of bids is May 27, this year. We are hopeful that the PPP tender will be successful.

What are some of the primary challenges in land acquisition that K-RIDE faces in completing its projects? 

The BSRP alignment, with a network length of 148.17 km, passes through the core area of Bengaluru city, primarily within railway land. Approximately 582 acres of railway land are required for the project, along with the acquisition of 101 acres of private land for BSRP. The acquisition of private land is being facilitated through KIADB. The entire private land in Corridor-2 for track construction has been acquired and private land acquisition in Corridor-4 is underway and is expected to be completed by June this year.

What plans and proposals are in place to balance the preservation of green cover with the development of this project?

K-RIDE will plant 10 trees for every tree cut or transplanted. Additionally, tree plantation on vacant land will progress alongside the project. All stations are planned to incorporate rainwater harvesting, solar panels, etc. Green building construction is the methodology being adopted for all 58 stations.

Published 12 May 2024, 02:41 IST

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