Wednesday, February 27, 2008

State craves for more, but lets its rails rust

State craves for more, but lets its rails rust
Wednesday February 27 2008 06:44 IST

Ashwini M Sripad

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BANGALORE: Railway Budget 2008 may be another reason for Karnataka to moan, but over the years, the State had done little to utilise its existing infrastructure.

The most glaring is its failure to use the network of rail lines, both electrified and non-electrified, around Bangalore city to ease congestion on the City's roads.

Prof M N Sreehari, chairman Traffic Engineers and Safety Trainers (TEST) a consultancy on traffic and infrastructure, commuters in and around Bangalore travel long distances to reach their work places, amounting to around 50 lakh passenger kilometres, which is a measure of passenger traffic.

According to him, a multi-modal integrated transport system is ideally suited for such passenger density. This is possible with an augmentation of metro, mono, high-capacity buses with dedicated lanes and a commuter rail system (CRS).

At present, Bangalore does not have either of these transport facilities. Even the metro rail will take a while to become a reality.

“Utilising existing electrified railway lines within a 30-kilometre radius from the city centre and operating diesel-electric multiple units (DEMUs) constitute CRS,” he said. “Even though India stands third in the length of railway lines after Russia and the US, it is in the 18th position in term of utilisation,” he added.

Each DEMU can have five to 10 coaches and can operate at speeds of 75 kilometres an hour. “Operating DEMUs can reduce 25 percent of traffic,” Sreehari said.

Southern Railway (now South Western Railway) had proposed a CRS to the State Government in 2001, which in turn was handed over to RITES Ltd, a Government of India enterprise engaged in consultancy and project management, to conduct a feasibility study. RITES had submitted the final feasibility report in January 2003.

The project had proposed to provide mass urban transportation on the existing 63-km railway lines between Bangalore City and suburban areas like Whitefield, Kengeri, Yeshwantpur, Lottegollahalli and Byappanahalli via Hebbal. The report had recommended that CRS was a necessity.

But the Government, after commissioning the study to RITES, didn't find it necessary to implement it.

Speaking to this website’s newspaper, Prakkaash Mandoth, ex-member, Zonal Railway Users Consultative Committee, Southern Railway said railways can at least operate three DEMUs, which can reduce traffic congestion to some extent.

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