Funding of Bengaluru’s suburban rail network may go the Metro Rail way

Anil Urs Bengaluru | Updated on February 01, 2020

Centre will provide 20% of cost and facilitate 60% of external funding, says Union Budget

The 148-km-long Bengaluru Suburban Rail project, what was an election promise made by the BJP for the city, finally features in the Union Budget 2020.

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaram, in the Budget presented in Parliament, said: “The 148-km-long Bengaluru Suburban transport project, coming up at a cost of ₹18,600 crore, would have fares based on the Metro model. The Central Government would provide 20 per cent of equity and facilitate external assistance up to 60 per cent of the project cost.”

The project has come to fruition after various citizens groups such as Bengaluru Suburban Rail Users and Citizens for Bengaluru carried out a series of campaigns seeking its implementation. The demand had put huge pressure on the elected representatives from the city.

Project details

As per the detailed project report (DPR) prepared by the Railways, the suburban rail is expected to have a 148-km network with 57 stations. The project will have four corridors: Kengeri-Whitefield, KSR Bengaluru City-Rajanukunte, Nelamangala-Baiyappanahalli and Heelalige-Devenahalli.

The project has been cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA).

While getting cleared at the Extended Railway Board meeting, the project was initially envisaged as a 50:50 venture between the central and State governments. But the new announcement makes it clear that the ratio has been changed. The Centre will now provide 20 per cent, while 60 per cent of the funds will be raised from external resources. The rest will come from the State.

The suburban rail project has been in the works for decades. The Karnataka government had asked the Centre and Railways to urge the Rail Infrastructure Development Company (Karnataka) (K-RIDE) to revise the DPR by directing the agencies to consider the suggestions/objections of the State government to make sure that proposed suburban rail does not compete with Metro lines.

Mixed reactions

Piyush Goyal, Union Commerce and Industry Minister who also holds additional Railways portfolio, tweeted in response to Sitharaman’s announcement: “Railways has proposed reform measures in service of nation. Setting up solar power capacity. Station redevelopment projects & operation of 150 new trains through PPP mode. More Tejas like trains for tourist places. Bengaluru suburban transport project #JanJanKaBudget.”

Thanking the finance minister, Suresh Angadi Union Minister of State (Railways), said: “Welcome the much-awaited budget announcement on #BengaluruSuburbanRail by Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman! Worth ₹18,600 Cr., the 148-km long suburban rail would see 20% Central funding and around 60% would be assisted through external agencies.”

CR Janardhana, President, FKCCI, said: “The allocation for the Bangalore Sub-Urban Railway will kick-start a project which has been pending for a long time and is the need of the hour for decongesting Bengaluru’s roads. The announcement of expressway between Chennai and Bengaluru will reduce the travel time for passengers and also goods movement by almost 60 per cent. This will help industries that are importers or exporters from Bengaluru and surrounding areas and are using Chennai Port’s facilities.”

However, not everyone is happy. Immediately after the announcement, Srivatsa, a rail commuter, tweeted: “Stop lying Minister. ₹18,300 cr is the total project cost and we have known that for years now. What’’s the exact amount allocated for Bengaluru Suburban Rail this year? Also, Centre is paying just 20 per cent of total cost. Rest? BJP’s Suburban Rail Jumla going on for years now...”

Published on February 01, 2020

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