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Namma Railu: Socio-Politico Considerations!

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Commuter Rail

Somewhere along, Namma Railu - campaign for Commuter Rail Service (CRS) in Bengaluru, could not make the immense socio-economic benefits stand out to convince the citizen's at large and move the politicians in the direction of taking the lead in getting it approved and implemented.

Today the CRS train is halted at office of Chief Secretary, awaiting for his green signal, approval to go to the next station, CM's office. Though its official journey started from his own office, in 2010 asking DULT to get it formalized. Since than it has traveled to DULT, got the needed energy booster from 2012 RITES report, discussed in the chambers of IDD and UDD. And now waiting for Chief Secretary's seal of approval. Not to mention of a relentless campaign efforts on ground by Praja members to reach out to citizens, activists, urban planners, experts, Babus, MLAs, MPs and Ministers.

If one were to list the CRS benefits, I would say, it will take not less than 10-15 long discussion posts. Keeping in mind the need for shorter version, here is an feeble attempt. Hope I am successful in this endeavor.

So far the discussion on Namma Railu has been mostly confined to technicalities - Tracks, Rakes, Signaling, Stations, Platforms. Though there were attempts to highlight the socio-economic impact, it did not come out in full glare as technical aspects did. Some credit goes to RITES for bringing out the technical realities of implementing CRS in Bengaluru. RITES did an wonderful job of listing the missing parts in existing railway infrastructure, making an unequivocal case that these can be easily build and corrected to enable CRS. Basically saying it is a matter of political will to spend some money to make it happen.

Socio-Political considerations

If one were to talk of socio-political considerations for Bengaluru CRS service, the discussion could be based on 3 main factors:

Reach and its coverage

Per RITES, there is a potential for 440 KMs of CRS network. This network spans across

  • 8 Loksabha Constituencies in Karnataka,
    • Bengaluru Central
    • Bengaluru South
    • Bengaluru North
    • Bengaluru Rural
    • Chickballapur
    • Kolar
    • Tumkur,
    • Mandya
  • 47 Assembly Constituencies in Karnataka
  • Benefiting 18 Million people in the catchment areas
  • Garnering 30% of the public transport trips, i.e. 2.97 million
  • Supporting 2 million commuters per day, increase from 1.5 lakhs at present.

if one were to compare with similar mass transit systems,

  • it is 4 times that of Namma Metro, 440 Kms Vs 110 Kms
  • It would support 20 lakh commuters per day compare to 10 lakhs on Namma Metro

Benefiting Population Profile

By sheer its reach, CRS touches all sections of the society. It's inclusiveness is not something made-up, but comes it with its turf.

  • Out of 440 Kms, 220 Kms falls in urban areas and 220 Kms in rural areas
  • It reaches City central, suburbs, semi-rural and rural areas equally
  • With right kind of rakes, ticket pricing, stops, it is guaranteed for attracting all sections - Poor to Rich, Office goers to industrial workers, urban dwellers to rural folks, students to senior citizens.

In comparison, Metro is designed and built for commute inside the city and by its design excludes certain areas, population etc. In recent trends the present mass transit systems in the city is gearing towards attracting the affluent class, be it BMTC, or Metro. For more read here (Courtesy - Citizen Matters). Not a bad thing but not at the cost of other sections and areas.

Social, Economic Empowerment

Given its reach and impact on its beneficiaries, CRS project can also be proudly projected as empowerment of socially and economic backward sections of the population both in urban and rural areas of the Bengaluru region. This is not an overstatement by me or by a Praja member, but an apt observation by an economist, Dr. Abu Saleh Sharrif (Former NCAER chief economist and head of their human development programme, who in '99 had produced the first India Human Development Report).

  • Empowerment due to reliable and faster access to centers of education, health care, recreation, industries and business
  • Nothing short of poverty alleviation project, but in more sustainable form

Proposed Bengaluru CRS promises to,

  • Enable people to seek employment away from home.

  • Provides Industry and Business with labor with economic and affordable mobility.

  • Helps Reduce unemployment, hence reduce and prevent social problems

  • Proposed Bengaluru CRS offers people affordable housing in towns but still be able to work in Bengaluru

  • Will stimulate economic growth in adjacent towns and catchment areas resulting in lifting standard of living

  • Will help people make more trips seeking health care services, Shopping and recreation for families and youth

These are just few important benefits we can reap from CRS. Only an indifferent government, politician and officer can ignore such a social, political, economic impacting project, that has nothing but benefits only.

Do you agree?


silkboard's picture

agree, good post

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Packaging content like this into a crisp benefit driven 1-para pitch for Commuter Rail will be good for a round of very consistent, and non-technical awareness drive that we are planning.

Talk to you later today evening to build up on the good amount of content and ideas already made available primarily by Sanjeev and yourself.

kbsyed61's picture

Without CRS,

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Another way to look at the benefits CRS can accrue is to look at the benefits people would not be able to avail in the absence of CRS service.

Transit Choices for Healthcare purposes in absence of CRS Service   In percent
By alternate transport means 48%
Look for opportunities near home 23%
Not be able to seek medical assistance 25%



Transit Choices for Education purposes in absence of CRS  In percentage
By Alternate Transport Means 48%
Look for opportunities near home 15%
Not be able to attend School/College 13%
Missed Classes and related activities 22%
Others 2%

Source - Bengaluru Socio-Economic Benefits Analysis

kbsyed61's picture

Social Benefits, Game Changer!

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Notwithstanding the immense economic benefits that projects like CRS accrue over a period of time, the social benefits that CRS can deliver to people should be good enough reason for government to introduce it. That too when every government portrays itself for guardian of middle class and poor, there can be no better promise than CRS to deliver on social front.

  • Empowering people with access to educational opportunities.
  • Providing affordable transit choice to take up jobs away from home and improve one's earnings.
  • Providing comfortable transport means to travel for family, health care, recreation and social needs
  • Excellent opportunity to align the project with poverty alleviation programs of government. (This can be the selling point to World Bank and other financial institutes for funding). comment guidelines

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