Bengaluru: Quadrupled lines, elevated track, but how much longer?

Bengaluru: The ‘suburban fever’ is finally on! Less than two weeks after Union finance minister Arun Jaitley gave the green signal for the 160-km urban transportation network in Bengaluru which will come up at an estimated cost of Rs 17,000 crore,  the railways announced that it will be a four-line track and elevated too. 

There will four elevated sections in the railway corridor, some going as high as 36 to 42 metres. The quadrupled lines will come up on the Lottegolahalli-Hebbal-Banaswadi-Baiyappanahalli, Nelamangala-Chikbanavara, Devanahalli- Yelahanka and  Heelalige-Baiyyappannahalli stretches, said Divisional Railway Manager, South Western Railway,  R.S. Saxena.

The project, the second of its kind in the country after Mumbai, is expected to decongest the city's railway network and also fulfil a four decade old demand.     

The suburban dream: Will it be on time?
Reacting to the announcements of the project details by South Western Railway on Monday, member of Karnataka Railway Vedike, Krishna Prasad said, " Their project appears to be good but it is too soon to conclude on the benefits. Unless the Detailed Project Report (DPR) is prepared, we will not know the exact cost and time. It also depends on the upcoming state budget and whether the Finance Minister (CM Siddaramaiah himself) clears the proposed state fund of Rs 1745 crores needed for the project . They need to decide on cost sharing as well." 

The railways says the elevated suburban rail corridor (72.47 kms) will cost Rs 4,480 crores, quadrapled lines (32.87 kms), Rs 657 crores. The overall civil engineering costs including platforms, station facilities, stabling lines, modifications for Rail Over Bridges and maintenance sheds would cost Rs 7223 crores.

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"It normally takes months to conduct a pre-feasibility study, which is done after sanction of the project. This time however, RITES did the study within 6 weeks prior to the sanction. The Detailed Project Report is being worked out and will take only 3-4 months as compared to the usual 9-10 months," said Divisional Railway Manager, South Western Railway, Mr R.S. Saxena. 

Sections that have elevated metro lines, as seen near Mantri Mall, will require the railways to go 32 metres high. Near Kengeri flyover, the quadrapled lines will go 42 metres high, as tall as a 100 storey building, he added.

Non-elevated sections include Chickabanavar-Yeshwanthpur and Whitefield-Baiyappanahalli. The authorities maintain that elevated corridors have been chosen in sections where land availability is a problem. " We need 15 acres of land from the Government of Karnataka for the rail corridor which will cost Rs 1200 crores. We also require 10 acres at Binny Mill for stabling lines costing Rs 500 crore and 75 acres for the EMU Depot cum shed at Rs 375 crores," the DRM said, further adding, " The land acquisition issues will not derail the project. The DPR and construction will happen side by side."  

"We are yet to receive a positive response from the state government about increasing Floor Size Index to 5, alongside the corridor for tapping real estate potential. They are yet to confirm about the formation of a Special Purpose Vehicle too. The cost sharing will be offset by 20% if vacant land is leveraged for commercial use, with a net realizable amount of Rs 5471 crores," Mr Saxena informed.

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