In a major relief for Bengalureans grappling with notorious traffic snarls, the Union cabinet on Wednesday cleared the long-pending 148-Km Bengaluru suburban rail project, sources said.
However, no official announcement was made due to the election model code of conduct due to by-elections. While bypolls to the two assembly constituencies Sira and Rajarajeshwarinagar will be held on November 3, a formal announcement is likely to be made later
Sources say Bengaluru suburban rail project was in the Wednesday’s cabinet meeting agenda and was discussed and cleared. However, Union railway minister Piyush Goyal at the press meet in New Delhi said: “We can’t discuss or give any information as the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) is in force in Bengaluru.”
“CCEA has given the nod Bengaluru suburban rail project but we cannot make an announcement now because of election MCC in Karnataka,” said a source.
Bengaluru Central MP P C Mohan and Bengaluru South MP Tejasvi Surya told TOI that the project will take off soon but refused to divulge further details citing the election model code of conduct. Mohan said he has been following up the project for several years and the project is on track. “I thank PM Narendra Modi for expediting the long pending project. This will be a next generation infrastructure facility,” Surya said.
SWR sources confirmed that CCEA has cleared the project but are not willing to come on record due to election MCC in Karnataka. The project will be executed by Rail Infrastructure Development Company (Karnataka) Limited (K-RIDE), an SPV of the Union ministry of Railways and Karnataka government. “K-RIDE will soon float tenders for civil work,” they said.
The 37-year-old suburban rail proposal, which was announced in the 2018-19 Union Budget, was cleared by the railway board in November 2019. However, it was delayed due to the want of approval from the CCEA. The project will comprise four corridors: KSR Bengaluru City-Devanahalli, Byappanahalli-Chikkabanavara, Kengeri-Cantonment-Whitefield and Heelalige-Rajanukunte.
This will be the country’s first modern suburban train system. Commuter trains that will run on the proposed suburban network will be similar to that of Metro. There will be automated fare collection gates for smart card-based cashless travel. Fifty-three AC trains,with automated double-leaf sliding doors, are likely to be deployed in the first phase.
Railway sources said the minimum fare could be Rs 13 for less than 3km. In Chennai and Mumbai, a train trip for the same distance costs Rs 5 currently. “For a 15-km trip, the fare will be Rs 35 as opposed to Rs 45 in Metro,” an official said.