Railway minister reviews Bengaluru suburban service project

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal on Monday reviewed the status of the Bengaluru suburban service project in a virtual meeting from New Delhi, an official said.

“Reviewing the project status, Goyal said the suburban rail service should be built keeping in view the growing needs of Bengaluru and should be based on Make in India policy to boost the ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ mission,” a South Western Railway official told IANS here.

The Union Cabinet had on October 21, 2020 approved the 148 km suburban rail project, which has been pending over the years, to provide an efficient commuting network to the tech city of 1.3 crore denizens.

The project to be completed by 2026 is estimated to cost Rs 15,767 crore, which is being shared by the Indian Railways and the Karnataka government on equity and debt basis.

“The Railways will contribute 20 per cent of the equity and guarantee external borrowing up to 60 per cent of the project cost, while the state government will share the remaining 20 per cent equity,” the official said.

The project will have four corridors, connecting Bengaluru with Devanahalli near the international airport (41.4 km and 15 stations), Baiyappanahalli with Chikkabanavara (25 km and 14 stations), Kengeri with Whitefield (35.52 km and 14 stations) and Heelalige with Rajanakunte (46.24 km and 19 stations).

The state government had on November 12, 2020 decided to borrow Rs 7,438 crore through a special purpose vehicle (SPV) as part of its share for the project.

Officials of the Railway Board and the state government participated in the virtual meet held through video conferencing.

The dedicated project is being implemented by the Rail Infrastructure Development Company (Karnataka) Ltd (KRIDE), a joint venture firm set up by the Railways and the state government, to provide a safe, accessible and comfortable mode of public transport.

“The project will ease vehicular traffic congestion across the city, enhance rural-urban connectivity and provide a cleaner mobility solution to lakhs of commuters,” noted the official.

The suburban service will connect the city with the international airport at Devanahalli, IT hubs in eastern and southern suburbs and commercial and residential areas in a seamless network to reduce travel time and enhance productivity.

“The project is envisaged to integrate multiple modes of transport like the metro rail and the state-run bus service with inter-changing hubs,” added the official.