Bengaluru: It's a big leap for twin cities Bengaluru and Mysuru, with the doubling and electrification of the railway tracks finally being inaugurated by the Prime Minister in February 2018. This marks the end of the decade-long doubling project, with electrification beginning in 2010. It comes is a huge relief for hundreds of commuters, many of whom make the trip back and forth everyday for work. Citizens are highly appreciative that the 138-km stretch is now hassle-free but say more is needed. Residents and experts alike hope to see the same success on other routes that connect the city to Hosur, Hubbali, Hassan, Mangaluru and Arsikere, as well as more semi-high speed trains to Mysuru. If this is done, trains will be the most preferred and sustainable mode of intra-state travel, reports Ranjani Madhavan
It has taken over 10 years, but people can now finally travel with ease between the state’s two major cities, Bengaluru and Mysuru, as the doubling and electrification of the railway lines on the route has at last been completed. The project that took off in 2007, was inaugurated on its completion by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his visit to the state earlier this month.
While the doubling of the line on this 138 km stretch, covering 13 stations and four districts, began over a decade ago, the electrification took off in 2010. And now people can not only look forward to faster travel between the two cities, but also less pollution and energy saving.
A passenger, who took three hours to cover the distance between the two prior to electrification, will now be able to cut travel time by 20 minutes.
Although trains from Mysuru may continue to stop at Kengeri or other stations leading up to the Krantiveera Sangolli Rayanna Station owing to congestion caused by terminating and originating services , they will run better owing to the doubling and electrification of the tracks, going by railway officers.
"This project is expected to tremendously improve railway connectivity benefiting 6000 daily commuters between these two stations," said Deputy General Manager and CPRO of South Western Railway(SWR), E Vijaya in a press statement. As many as 18 to 19 trains run every day between Bengaluru and Mysuru and 24 pairs during the week. The potential of the line is such that not one train ever runs empty between the two cities.
While SWR reveals there will be no change in the number of services between the two cities, it says the trains will be converted from diesel to electric in a phased manner. In the past owing to partial electrification of the line the electric engines would have to change to diesel to run on the tracks. The electrification of the line is also expected to result in cost saving as while it takes around Rs 42,000 to run a diesel train between the two cities, it will cost only Rs 25,000 a day to run an electric train.
Also, traction change enroute to Bengaluru will now be avoided, allowing for smoother operation of trains and their punctuality, going by the PRO. “Line haul cost will reduce from Rs 365 to Rs 198 per 1000 gross ton kilometer leading to an annual saving of Rs 20 crore in fuel cost," the statement added.
And in good news for the state that is working hard to make a shift to electric vehicles for various reasons including protecting the environment , its diesel consumption is now set to reduce by 1.2 crore litres annually and its carbon dioxide emissions by five million tonnes a year.
Long way yet, but city moving in right direction
While people are expectedly happy with the doubling and electrification of the railway line between Bengaluru and Mysuru, they have a longer wish list that includes taking similar initiative on other important railway routes connecting the city to the IT hub of Hosur, the business hub of Hubballi, Hassan , Manga luru, Tumakuru, Arsikere and more towns in Karna taka to make train travel the most preferred mode of transport in the state.
Currently, doubling and electrification of tracks is either underway or proposed from Bengaluru to various towns and cities in Karnataka. Although there is still a long way to go for these to become a reality, the sanction given for them in the Budget is a step in the right direction, believe experts.
“Doubling and electrification of the Baiyappanahalli- Hosur line will help the IT crowd employed in various software companies. But the biggest demand is for the section between Chikbanavar and Hubballi, as it covers half of the state and Hubballi is the business centre of North Karnataka,” says Mr Krishna Prasad, member of the Karnataka Railway Vedike, observing that the movement of goods trains too will receive an impetus with the doubling and electrification of the Hassan-Mangaluru line.
“Daily wage labourers coming to the city from Tumakuru and Kunigal will benefit if more MEMU services are run on an electrified track,” he adds, pointing out that the doubling and electrification of the Mysuru-Hassan-Mangaluru line will be a boost for the tourism sector.
In his view priority should be accorded to the Mysuru -Chamarajnagar, Tumakuru-Arsikere and Chikjajur-Hubballi lines as once completed, these will help long distance travellers and also those commuting from suburban areas to the cities for employment and educational opportunities.
He believes the SWR cannot run more MEMU services on the Bengaluru-Mysuru line unless the KPTCL power station is commissioned at Yeliyur. “ At present, they cannot run more than two or three AC loco services. The trains use the power from Bidadi power station, which can lead to transmission loss. The Energy Minister should look into this,” Mr Prasad suggests.
In an ideal scenario, improved railway connectivity providing ease of travel across Karnataka should help reduce the congestion on highways with weekend travelers switching to train services that will be faster, on time and convenient.
However, experts note that it all depends now on flow of funds from the Railway Board for these projects as it will determine their pace of work....