Yes, it's Chuku-Buku to Ramanagara

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu will inaugurate the commuter rail on January 16.

Bengaluru: The city residents have been clamouring for it for nearly 30 years and now the commuter rail is finally going to be a reality, though for just one stretch - from Bengaluru to Ramanagara.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu will inaugurate the commuter rail on January 16. The trains would cover the distance of 45 kilometres in about an hour. The service will benefit thousands of workers who travel every day to Bengaluru from Ramanagara. Till now, they used trains running between Bengaluru and Mysuru for their commute.

Though Bengaluru has 180 km of rail link and 40 stations, there is still no clarity on how the commuter rail services would be introduced on other stretches. Mr P.C. Mohan, MP from Bengaluru Central, has sought a separate corporation for commuter rail for its efficient functioning.

Members of the Citizens for Bengaluru, which has been carrying out a campaign for commuter rail, has said that unless all routes are opened it won't ease traffic congestion in the city.

Commuter rail: Separate corporation mooted
While there is still no concrete plan regarding the rest of the stretches in the city, Lok Sabha MP represent Bengaluru Central P.C. Mohan has called for a separate corporation for commuter rail for better functioning.

“We are pushing for an SPE (Special Purpose Entity) that is a separate corporation to handle commuter rail. Just like BMRCL for Metro and BMTC for buses, there must be a separate body for the local trains, so that there is no confusion on whether the railways or state government should handle it,” Mohan said.

However, Railway officials said there is little clarity on the issue. “Everything is fluid as of now. I cannot say if it will happen or not. The Ministry of Railways has to look through the memorandum we sent," said Sanjiv Agarwal, Divisional Railway Manager of South Western Railway (SWR).

“We have made a draft with guidelines, on what is needed to run a commuter rail. It has been sent to the Ministry of Railways, but the final call will be taken by the State Government," said Sridhar Murthy, Senior Divisional Commercial Manager of SWR.

However citizens groups felt that unless all the stretches are opened it won’t ease pressure on the city’s roads.

"So far only a partial stretch has been approved by the officials. It won't be of any help, until we have all the routes. Our group, Citizens for Bengaluru (CfB), is deliberating on what we can do next, to push for commuter rail," said Sujith Deshpande, a member of CfB.

According to Sujith, 50 per cent of the traffic will be eased from Bengaluru's roads. He pointed out that 180 kilometres of rail link and 40 stations were readily available and utilizing this would be the best way to improve commuter experience in the city.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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