The Metro Rail has been every Bengalurean’s long standing dream. With only a few lines fully operational, the Metro is an incomplete behemoth waiting to realise its aim of connecting different parts of the city, while at the same time easing traffic on its clogged and battered roads. With the east-west line at the Majestic Interchange station being given final touches, Namma Metro is taking another step towards realisation.
The slow paced Metro Rail, expected to take a heavy load of traffic load off the roads in the city, is finally beginning to take shape. Besides the few lines operational in the city currently, Bengalureans will be able to travel in just 33 minutes from Byappanahalli to Mysuru Road in less than a month should all go according to plan. The Bengaluru Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (BMRCL) is giving final touches to the east-west line at the Majestic Interchange station and its Managing Director, Pradeep Singh Kharola reveals once the pending work of around 10 days is completed, the Commissioner for Rail Safety will be invited to inspect and issue the clearance certificate.
“As soon as we get clearance we will inaugurate the stretch,” he said during an inspection of the east-west underground corridor covering the three major UG stations of Cubbon park, Vidhana Soudha and Majestic Interchange by Bengaluru Development Minister, K.J. George on Tuesday.
“We have had successful trial runs on the east-west line ,” the minister revealed on the sidelines of the inspection. The East- West line will touch Mysuru Road, Vijaynagar, Kempegowda station, the Civil Court, Vidhan Soudha, High Court, the cricket stadium and Indiranagar. Once it becomes operational the Metro’s ridership which is presently about 45,000 a day could increase several folds.
BMRCL will turn its attention next to the north-south line, which has been a source of concern from day one. But with problems sorted out , the north-south Peenya to Majestic line could be ready by June, according to the minister, who however said that the Chickpet to Majestic line would be ready only by July as tunneling was proving difficult in the presence of hard rock in the area.
While the Godaveri TBM, tunneling on the northern line from Sampige is expected to reach Majestic in another 40 days, the south line, running from National College to Puttenahalli, which has been in the making for three years, will be thrown open by August.
“Once the Godavari TBM tunnels through, we will run the train from Peenya depot just like we did in Magadi Road and start the trial runs for the south line. Barring some portion of the underground section, the north-south line could therefore become functional by August,” said a BMRCL official.
Phase 1 could be fully operational by December?
Going by the current pace of work, Phase 1 of the Metro Rail covering 42.30 kms could become fully operational by December this year. Until now the Metro has opened in pieces with just five small stretches commercially operational: Reach 1 (MG Road to Byappanahalli, 6.7km), Reach 3 (Sampige Road to Yeshwanthpur, 5.1km), Reach 3a (Yeshwanthpur to Peenya Industry, 4.8km), Reach 3b (Peenya Industry to Nagasandra, 2.5 km) and Reach 2 (Magadi Road to Mysuru Road, 6.4 km).
Still to be completed are four major lines: Reach 4 (National College to Rashtreeya Vidyalaya Road), Reach 4a (Rashtreeya Vidyalaya Road to Puttenahalli), UG 1 (North-South underground line) and UG2 (East-West underground line). While the east-west line is getting ready to open for commercial operations soon, work on the north-south corridor has been held up due to the rough geological conditions, which has made tunnelling difficult for the underground section of the Metro. The delay has not only cost the city in terms of inconvenience on the roads where the construction is underway , but the cost of Phase 1 has escalated by Rs 2,000 crore since the work on it first began in 2006. The cost of the project today stands at Rs 13, 805 crore.
Q&A with Pradeep Singh Kharola, Managing Director BMRCL: Northern line to start operations by June
Q: Will all the stations have feeder buses?
A: We will have feeder services at all stations with the help of the BMTC
Q: What about passenger amenities?
A: We are likely to send a proposal to the Bengaluru development minister to form a committee of officers from the railways, DULT, BMTC and BMRCL to work on passenger amenities.
Q: When will the northern line start functioning?
A: We are hoping by June.
Q: What is the status of the Kaveri tunneling from Chickpet to Kempegowda?
A: The Kaveri TBM is just 130 meters away from breakthrough. However, its progress is slow because of the difficult geological conditions. It is expected to reach Majestic station in 80 to 90 days. After that the Majestic station can be connected from City Market to Yelachenahalli by July.