Bengaluru rail a reality soon?

Bengaluru: With the Assembly elections looming, the state government has hurriedly agreed to release it’s equity share to the railways for  phase 1 A of the long pending surburban rail project for the city, that is expected to be completed in three years.

While the railway ministry had requested it to release its equity share and land for the 440.8 km long suburban rail for Bengaluru, the state government had an issue with the percentage involved. But on Wednesday the state Cabinet gave its nod for  release of Rs. 349 crore as its equity share for the project for the years 2018-19 and 2019 -2020,  Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister T.B. Jayachandra told reporters here.

According to the agreement signed between the railways and the state government in January last hear, each will bear 20 per cent of the project cost. The Cabinet also approved the launch of a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPVs) to raise the remaining Rs. 1,047 crore and implement the project, Mr. Jayachandra said. The Suburban Rail will have 58 trains and run 116 services  and its network will include the 92.88 km Bengaluru – Mandya stretch, Bengaluru- Yeshwantpur (5.35km) line, Yeshwantpur- Tumakuru(64km) line, besides the  Yeshwantpur- Yelahanka(12.45 km),  Yelahanka-Baiyyappanahalli (19.23), Yeshwantpur-Baiyyappanahalli(16.12kms),Yelahanka- Doddaballapura( 20.72kms), Yelahanka- Chikkaballapur (46.05kms), Yelahanka Doddaballapur(20.72 kms),Baiyyappanahalli- Hosur (48.59kms), Bengaluru- Bangarapet (70.21kms),and Soldevanhalli-Kunigal(  45.2kms) stretches.

Welcoming the decision to launch an SPV for the project, DULT Commissioner , Darpan Jain, said this would enable creation of rail infrastructure and new rolling stock to start 58 new trains and 116 new services.

“The project has the  potential to help over two lakh commuters. It will add over 60 lakh passenger kilometres to public transport services," he noted.

 Transport expert from Praaja RAAG, Sanjeev Dyamnavar , however, noted that the Special Purpose Vehicle had not been cleared as yet by the railways. 

“Unless the Centre allots the 20 per cent of the remaining funds in the pink book, the railways will refuse to clear the SPV, " he said, adding, " Administrative action is what is lacking here. Now that the state has guaranteed funds, the railways need to take the project forward. Karnataka too must provide the land needed.”

The Cabinet also gave its nod for upgrading Bengaluru traffic signals at a cost of Rs. 85.34 crore. 

To begin with 363 existing traffic signals will be  upgraded with installation of 100 new Vehicle Actuated Traffic Signals (VATS), Mr. Jayachandra said.

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