Bengaluru, Feb 25: The railways will partner with the Karnataka government for developing suburban services in Bengaluru, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu announced on Thursday.
"Bengaluru, the technology hub of the country, warrants a comprehensive suburban system. We will partner with the state government in this endeavour," Prabhu told lawmakers in the Lok Sabha while presenting the railway budget for fiscal 2016-17. [Updates: Suresh Prabhu presents Rail Budget 2016]
Asserting the railways would build an integrated suburban ecosystem by launching a new investment framework, Prabhu said his ministry would share equity contribution with state governments and ensure cost neutrality on operations.
"We will come out with a detailed policy in this regard in the next four months. We intend to partner with the state governments of Gujarat, Telangana and Tamil Nadu for developing suburban services in Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and Chennai," Prabhu said.
For city commuters, the ministry will also develop suburban systems in partnership with the state governments in Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai and Thiruvananthapuram.
The state government had petitioned Prabhu recently for a full-fledged suburban rail service linking Bengaluru with towns in the hinterland.
"We have convinced Prabhu on the urgent need to operate a dedicated suburban rail service in Bengaluru for daily commuters and a floating population from nearby towns and villages to ease vehicular pressure on roads," an urban land transport directorate official told IANS here on Wednesday.
A detailed project report by the Rail India Technical and Economic Service (Rites) for providing alternate transport and easing congestion on highways and roads in and around the city of 10-million people, with a 1.5-million daily floating population was submitted to the Railway Board on January 27 and a representation to Prabhu on February 4.
The report by the state-run Rites has raised concerns over bottlenecks the project will face in execution, as land acquisition and demolition of built-up area needs the state's intervention at every level and dislocation of the limited service currently will affect its commuters.
To ensure the project will take-off at the earliest with an integrated approach for seamless transportation in and out of the city, Bengaluru development minister K.J. George had recently suggested connecting the suburban rail service to metro stations at three terminals where long distance trains also originate, terminate or pass through and passengers can inter-change over to either local transport mode.
The terminals are at Yeshwantpur in the city's northwest, Whitefield or Baiyappanahalli in north east and Kengeri in southwest where passengers from long distance trains can also use suburban or metro service to reach their destinations within or outside the city outskirts.
All three terminals, connected to the main city station and Cantonment station in the city centre, currently ferry thousands of passengers from Tumukuru, 70km away in north, Bangarapet in east, (100km away) and Mandya in south (100km away) to and from the city on the limited suburban service operated with push-pull trains, and diesel or electric multiple units.
The suburban service is estimated to cost Rs.9,000 crore, with the state government providing land and other support facilities as its contribution to the project.