News Karnataka

To train or not to train? Is that still the question?

To train or not to train? Is that still the question?

Andrea Noronha   ¦    Dec 14, 2018 02:19:47 PM (IST)

To train or not to train? Is that still the question?-1Bengaluru: Thousands of cars travel to and from the Kempegowda International Airport from in and around the city, every single day and the numbers are only going up. Considering this, it is shocking to note that the only access to the KIAL is via the roadways that are getting increasingly congested with the increase in the number of vehicles.

In light of this, a concerned citizen by the name Rajkumar Dugar (Founder of VRWA, Secretary of AIT and finalist of Citizen of The Year 2018) started an online petition on Change.org on Sep 2, 2018 informing the authorities about what the citizens need. The petition has already been signed by over 11,500 supporters and will hopefully succeed in, if nothing else, making the citizens aware of this important problem and its practical solution. Dugar has already written letters to both the Union and State Governments – specifically Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, Chairman of the Indian Railway Board, Ashwani Lohani, Divisional Railway Manager of the South Western Railway, R. S. Saxena, Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, Deputy Chief Minister Dr. G Parameshwara, Chief Secretary Vijay Bhaskar and Chairman of the new committee constituted to recommend solutions to Bengaluru’s traffic problems, Ajay Seth.

Speaking to NewsKarnataka, Dugar said that so far, he has not received an official response to his letters, but he has not given up hope and continues to find ways to bring the concerned persons' attention to the matter.

Dugar also said that he had sent emails to the senior officers at RITES India, which was at the time, preparing a report regarding Suburban Trains for Bengaluru. RITES later submitted its draft report and highlighted that "trains to Bengaluru’s airport must be seriously considered", according to an update on the online petition.

To train or not to train? Is that still the question?-2Photo courtesy: Dugar's petition page

A little about the Kempegowda International Airport

To train or not to train? Is that still the question?-3

The KIAL was built and became operational in the year 2008. Now, the second phase of the expansion is underway- this encompasses the construction of a second runway and passenger terminal. When complete, the KIAL will be able to handle about 60 million passengers per year, Dugar informed.

Groundwork on the second runway and terminal began in February 2016 and is expected to be operational by 2021. Located to the south of the original terminal, it will be parallel to and wider than the original runway so that it can accommodate larger aircrafts.

"A third runway, proposed to be located 1500 metres north of the current one, is being planned to cater to the growth in air traffic at the airport.

As much as 90% of the traffic is via a single road (Devanahalli Road). Logically, things cannot go on as they are," Dugar said.

The main fear (and a rational one at that) is if anything were to happen to the main line to the airport, like a major road accident or a failure in the infrastructure, life in the city will come to a halt.

What could be the solution to this problem?

Dugar insists that widening of existing roads or building new ones is no solution as that will encourage an increase in vehicles resulting in congestion and pollution. "Depending on only one mode of transport is not practical or wise, and is a sure recipe for chaos. Buses to the airport can be increased, but there is a limit to which buses can help, and we will still be road-centric with no alternate mode of transport," he argues.

To train or not to train? Is that still the question?-4
Photo courtesy: Rajkumar Dugar

As of now, the BMRCL has plans for an elevated Airport-Metro link from Nagawara to the KIAL. From Nagawara, the proposed R6 (of Phase2) line will connect the airport to the entire Metro Network, Dugar informed.

To train or not to train? Is that still the question?-5

Photo courtesy: Rajkumar Dugar

However, he laments, the elevated section work, as well as work on the underground section from Nagawara to Dairy Circle, has not yet begun. "This underground section will take at least 5 years to be completed once the work starts. So, practically, the earliest we can expect the Metro-Airport link is around the year 2025. The question now is, can Bengaluru afford to wait till 2025 and manage with the existing roads till then, with no alternative means of transport to the Airport? The obvious answer is 'no'," he added.

So, what is a viable solution to this glaring problem?

To train or not to train? Is that still the question?-6

During Dugar's tireless research, he came across one  practical and easily implementable alternative means of transport. "Most Bengalureans are not aware of the existence of a railway line next to the Trumpet Interchange (Yelahanka to Devanahalli and from there to Kolar). Also, not many trains move on this track. The closest railway station to the airport on this line is about 10 km away at Doddajala (DJL). This track has been in existence since August 1915, however, it is beyond one’s comprehension why the State and Central Governments, as well as the BIAL, have not yet seriously considered leveraging this to provide an alternate means of transport to the airport, given the fact that this line is grossly under-utilised. Presently, the utilization factor of the City-YPR tracks is 63%, from YPR to Yelahanka (YNK) it is 50% and from YNK to Chikkabalapura (CBP) is 29%," he informed.

To train or not to train? Is that still the question?-7

Photo courtesy: Rajkumar Dugar

His research has found that a passenger train (06595) runs between Yeshwantpur (YPR) and Devanahalli (DHL) and covers a distance of 26 km in 30 minutes (as per the schedule), with four stops in between. "A fast airport express train can do the same in much less time, say 20 mins, with a couple of stops on the way. A small, simple, single-platform station near the Trumpet Interchange, along with small road connections from this station to the dedicated airport road above (close to the Trumpet Interchange) is enough to start train services to the airport. A few dedicated buses between the new railway station and the airport terminal will complete the major requirements," he added.

According to Dugar, for this to work, the airport trains need to be MEMU/DEMU trains which can reverse direction without turning, have high acceleration and braking, are easier to maintain, can reach max 110 kmph speed etc.

To train or not to train? Is that still the question?-8Photo courtesy: Rajkumar Dugar

What are the benefits of this move?

The most obvious benefit is that the move will significantly reduce traffic congestion and pollution all over Bengaluru city. About 14,000 commuters can move from using cars to using only two 8-coach trains, operating 12 trips each, round-the-clock. Apart from this, there are numerous side benefits. But first, let it be understood that a significant part of the commuters will use the trains only when the services become efficient and comprehensive, he said.

Dugar is also confident about the move's positive effects on cabbies. According to him, cab drivers will see better days, as they will be able to make more trips on account of reduced congestion. In addition, their drives will be relatively stress-free. The average commute time will also reduce by approximately 30% to 50%. Another plus point is that the average commute cost will reduce by approximately 40% to 70% (presently the fare from YPR to DHL is Rs. 10/-).

Best of all, parking spaces will be easier to find at the airport.

(Additional photos from Dugar's presentation)

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To train or not to train? Is that still the question?
To train or not to train? Is that still the question?
To train or not to train? Is that still the question?
To train or not to train? Is that still the question?
To train or not to train? Is that still the question?
To train or not to train? Is that still the question?