On the eve of the Railway Budget, TOI takes a hard look at the state of the main stations in Bangalore — what they have, what they don’t and what’s needed.
The Times of India
Senior officials, who are aiming at a railway station of international standards in Bangalore, are hoping that Union minister Lalu Prasad will, on Monday, unveil more passengerfriendly measures. Besides, this budget is expected to address the 11th Five Year Plan targets for growth and development.
Plans are afoot to have amenities like shopping malls and internet cafes at the Bangalore station with the help of BBMP and PPP. The railways are looking at more trains on the intra-state sector: Bangalore-Hubli, Bangalore-Bellary, and Bangalore-Mysore routes.
Says divisional railway manager Mahesh Mangal, “We hope to see new trains connecting Bangalore with cities like Chandigarh, Jodhpur, Patna, Hyderabad and cities in Kerala. We are also looking at greater frequency of weekend and special trains. “This budget, we expect the railways to tie up with a bank to set up ATMs in stations for dispensing tickets,” he said.
Says senior divisional commercial manager, Anwar Hussain, “We hope they will enable ticket sales at commercial outlets like shops and malls.”
On facilities for the disabled, Hussain said, “The Bangalore Division introduced, on a trial basis, battery-operated motor trolleys for the physically challenged. We expect this could become a regular feature.” The railways hope to double the track between Ramanagaram and Mysore. The doubling work between Bangalore and Ramanagaram is on. Once complete, the railways will be able to cut at least 30 minutes of travel time. Track doubling that was taken up in the last few budgets is complete till Kengeri. The first train between Bangalore and Mangalore planned in the last budget could be ready this budget year. The first express train between Bangalore and Mangalore may start in April after the safety clearances. The railways are planning a coach maintenance unit at Byappanahalli in addition to the facility at Bangalore City and Yeshwantpur.
BANGALORE EAST AND CANTONMENT
Dirt and facilities call for attention
Bangalore: Unkempt surroundings, stinking toilets, poorly maintained seats, lack of food kiosks and other problems make travelling a miserable experience here. Welcome to Bangalore East railway station!
Located at Frazer Town, this station is a classic example which depicts the callousness of authorities. There is no facility for food stalls or counters for passengers. A tea and coffee stall operates only between 8 am and 10 am. The condition of toilets is pathetic. A phone booth exists just for namesake as it remains closed most of the time.
Cantonment Railway Station
Passengers at Cantonment Railway Station are facing problems due to the slow pace of renovation work. The entire station lies in dust and filth.
Says a disgusted railway employee, “There is no electricity in the car parking area. It poses a great risk to passengers, especially women, at night. All our complaints have fallen on deaf ears. Autorickshaw drivers are a menace. Though pre-paid auto counters are available, auto drivers come inside the station and negotiate fares with the passengers, thereby blocking the entrance.”
Officials, however, promise some improvement.
“Two new platforms along with a suburban platform will be constructed. The reservation complex will be built on the first floor and the entire portion in the ground floor will be converted into a waiting hall. The existing foot overbridge will be extended further. A pay-and-use toilet, water taps, four new food kiosks and a budget hotel will come up shortly,” they say.
Handling crowd is an uphill task
Bangalore: Swanky and congested. Bangalore City Railway Station, which handles 1.8 lakh passengers daily, is just that. There is a tinge of IT surge with kiosks and touch-screens that glorify the tech-savvy city even while hundreds of passengers rest on the floor beside them.
While choked cloakrooms and waiting rooms have a story of inadequacy to tell, the officials, on the other hand, are upbeat that they will make this a world-class
facility —provided the Railway Budget smiles at Bangalore.
The station is worse during weekends and vacations throwing the whole system out of gear. Cramped space leave passengers high and dry. Long and unending queues at counters are a common sight as around 40,000 unreserved passengers flock here.
And if you thought you could grab a quick bite at the restaurant, you will only return angry and more hungry as there are only two of them for the entire station. Though there are a couple of small outlets selling idli, vada and sandwiches, hygiene is a common grouse. Around 71 pairs of trains arrive and depart from the main station on 10 platforms making the schedule hectic. The ratio of platform and trains is 1:10, keeping passengers on toes. Is it disabledfriendly? Not really. Say, if your train arrives on platform 5, you would curse. Subways and skywalks are the only approach and there are no ramps or escalators!
Nevertheless, there are a few positives. The system involved for enquiry, ticketing, banking facility is flawless. Authorities have spent time at the drawing boards. More number of entries to the station, escalators, multi-storeyed car park, food courts, more kiosks, smart technologies will soon become the order. But for high passenger traffic, it’s obviously the best we have in the state.
I travel every day between Ramanagaram and Bangalore. The Bangalore-Mysore trains are full all the time. Sometimes, there is no space to even stand. The railways have to double the track fast. We discuss this every day and we have even petitioned the authorities. The doubling of track has been completed till Kengeri but is not being used.
— B N Nagraj, employee of an
We are harassed by taxi and auto drivers. I travel to Bangalore from Mysore often. At the prepaid counter, drivers accept the token and just as we approach the destination, they complain it is far and fleece money.
— Kavya, student from
Space a luxury here
Bangalore: The dejection on the face of the railway official is all too apparent as he stands on platform no. 6 of the Yeshwantpur Railway Station.
“We had got these painted only recently. Look at them now,” he points to spit-smeared walls
that have turned from grey to red. “It’s not about how much facilities we have or don’t have, but about abusing the facilities we offer the public. How do we create awareness? I don’t think we can blame authorities,” he throws up his hands in utter hopelessness. “Look at the floor. It is cleaned 10 times a day. One spit spoils the show. We get the toilets cleaned time and again. Yet people don’t flush the toilet. What do we do?”
Station manager L Basavaraju pointed out that Yeshwantpur Railway Station infrastructure was being upgraded. “When all works are completed, it will have a fuller look. This is a developing terminal. As of now, we have all basic facilities.”
The station has drinking water facilities, toilets and telephone booths. In comparison to other stations at the urban district level, the Yeshwantpur station is well off.
Work on extended roofing, waiting rooms, cloak room, retiring rooms, dormitory, more toilets, food stalls, additional rooms for office, and a VIP lounge is gathering pace.
The number of platforms itself can’t be increased. There are six platforms and seven lines. Close to the sixth platform is a road which the railways cannot acquire. And close to the first platform are railway houses. Twenty-three trains originate at this station and almost 50 pairs of local trains pass through the station each day.
Officials hope, in the coming budget, extra funds will be allotted. But more important than funds is the clearance for the Yeshwantpur-Mangalore train via Arsikere and Mysore. “Two trains can go to Mangalore. The lines are ready. We don’t know whether it will be sanctioned, in this budget or the next.”