Sunday, March 09, 2008

Airport rail link plan orphaned

Airport rail link plan orphaned

Bangalore: It’s a no-no situation. The proposed high-speed rail link from the city to the Bengaluru International Airport has no takers. While the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and Union government refused to have any stake in the project, the Railways has completely washed its hands of the connectivity plan.
After saying ‘no’ to extending the existing Kolar line on National Highway 7 up to Devanahalli airport to ferry passengers, the Railways distanced itself from the proposed implementation of high-speed rail connecting BRV Grounds on M G Road to the airport.
“Our infrastructure is not capable of providing tracks for high-speed rail proposed at a cost of Rs 3,716 crore. Urban rail connectivity or high-speed rail requires a dedicated track, either surface or elevated, to run trains at regular intervals. Providing intra-city connectivity is not our concern and as per the government of India policy, providing urban connectivity comes under the purview of the urban development ministry,’’ South Western Railway general manager Praveen Kumar said on Saturday.
Existing tracks have been designed to provide inter-city connectivity for passengers and freight which cannot be utilized for high-speed rail, he said.
However, SWR could run additional trains from Yelahanka to Devanahalli on the existing track linking Kolar. However, this would not serve the purpose and help air passengers in any way, Praveen Kumar said after inaugurating two passenger subway lifts at the city railway station.
The government is determined to provide connectivity to BIA and is going strong with the multi-crore high-speed rail project. It created a Special Purpose Vehicle —- Bangalore Airport Rail Link Ltd — for speedy execution of this muchneeded connectivity to the new airport, 30 km from the heart of the city.
“AAI and the Centre refused to have a stake in this project. With the creation of the SPV, things should move fast,’’ sources told Sunday Times of India. BIAL has come forward to invest 10% of the project cost. The blueprint specifies a city air terminal will be built at BRV Grounds and the track will run 34 km to the international airport with two stops —- Hebbal and Yelahanka.


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