Excuses, Excuses and more Excuses.
The time has come to call the bluff of railways and south western railways (SWR) on its march of spreading falsehood to deny genuine demands of the Karnataka State. When one look at their claims and check with facts, they stand exposed of nothing but lies. Let us examine few of their recent claims and cross-check them against the facts.
Let's start with Railways. Since 2010, various citizen groups including the Namma Railu team from Praja has been advocating for Suburban Rail Services in Bengaluru City. When ever they have reached out Railways, Railway Board and Union Railway Ministers, we were cleverly thrown with the claims arguing against the demand for Suburban Rail Service. Here are the couple of examples.
1. Suburban Rail System is not the mandate of Railways
They don't even feel ashamed to say this with a straight face. They are so wrong on this fact that it doesn't require any analysis to prove them wrong. All it needs is just a cursory look at the India's major Metropolitan cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkota, Chennai and Hyderabad. Each of this city has a full fledge Suburban Rail System in Place. Each one of them is being implemented, run, managed and operated by Indian Railways. More so, recently Indian Railways even took the Kolkota Metro under its umbrella.
Bengaluru City is the only metropolitan city that has been deprived of this facility. It is not that demand has not been made. A demand for suburban rail has been made since 1976 and every time it gets put aside for one reason or the other. The biggest irony is in recent years in last 5 years, Railways has seen its own MPs as Railway Ministers, but it is shameful each one of them for their own political correctness couldn;t help in anyway. Today each one would bee seen writing to the present railway minister to sanction it. This disease of throwing this garbage at us runs deep not only among ministers but runs in board members and even junior officers. Next time if somebody throws this lie at you, please ask them to show a 'GO - Government Order' or a "Cabinet Note" which says that Railways is not responsible for Suburban Rail Services.
2. Suburban Rail Services is not a profitable operations. These losses could run into 90,000 crs.
One can only laugh at it. When did the profit making become the mandate of railways? Please ask the railways to show a "GO - Government Order" or a "Cabinet Note" which says railways shall be run on profit basis. There is none. That doesn't mean it has to run on losses. In recent times we have heard of Railways raking record profits. Then why is railway finances is in such shambles? The simple reason is railway fares have not been increased for last 15 years to match with operating cost. The politics of backlash has made government after government to keep the fares unchanged. If the prices of petroleum prices can be increased why not the railway fares?
Even on Suburban Rail Services the example quoted on losses posted by Mumbai's local train services is a big lie. Railways will flash the figures of Rs.1200 crorers being the losses for 2013-14. Let's closely look at this figure and see what the reality is.
Mumbai Suburban Trains daily ridership is == 76 lakhs.
Loss in 2013-14 == 1200 Crorers.
Per month == 100 crorers, Per Day == 3.3 Crorers (approx)
That means, for every passenger per day it incurs a loss of == 3 Crorers / 76 lakhs == Rs. 4.30
All the railways needs to do to bring down its losses is, increase the fares by 5 rupees. Is it that huge increase that public will revolt? This only shows if there are losses, it not because of railway services, but it is due to government's lack of political will to do the right thing.
They are now spreading a falsehood that suburban service will give rise to losses in thousands of crorers. One union minister is reported to have been saying that it could incur losses to the tune of 90,000 crorers. We all should ask this Union Minister to clarify these figures and tell him to provide the basis for these astronomical figure. If this is true then what he is saying is, the cost running suburban rail is as good as running a 'Bullet Trains'. Which means we all should switch over to 'Bullet Trains' soon. What a facade being spread. Railways, please stop spreading this falsehood.
South Western Railways
Now lets examine some of the claims of the south western railway that is not only outrageous but outlandishly exposes the ineptness of SWR in improving the railway infrastructure in the state. It is 100% true that South Western Railway is not working for the state's interest.
1. Railway Tracks in and around Bengaluru City are completely full and there is no room to accommodate suburban rail services.
Technically they will sound correct. It is a fact today that at Bengaluru City Station (SBC), Cantonment (BCN) and Yeshwantpur (YPR), its tracks, its platforms are full and hardly there is any room for any more new trains. But a closes look at their utilization throughout the day would reveal that SWR has the least efficient use of its platforms compare to Hyderabad, Chennai, Pune etc. If one takes a bit closer look, one would get puzzled at how SWR has remain indifferent to do any improvements to operations of the trains and its facilities.
The 2012 RITES report list these inefficiencies in detail and explains the simple remedies that south western railways has not taken up. In last 2 decades, SWR has done nothing to increase the operational capacity. When questioned, brazenly they would assert that they are fine with existing infrastructure. They claim that SBC and other stations are saturated, congested, but do not show any proof of their efforts to decongest. No master plan or vision to decongest SBC exists. They are without answers when questioned on plans they have submitted to railway board to improve railways not only in Bengaluru but whole of the state.
It was with lot of expectations and aspirations that people fought for creating South Western Railway Zone in 2003. But looking in 2016, there is hardly any proof that SWR has met any of these expectations. Let alone expectation,s it is not even ready to help cities like Bengaluru to have a suburban rail service. Every time a demand is made, SWR scuttles with all kinds of excuses ranging from tracks saturation, not their mandate to the cry of it is not profitable. Time has come for people of Karnataka state to wake up and start demanding from SWR its share of development, increase in railway connectivity and railway services that meets the need of the state.
What more is needed to prove that it is nothing but excuses that railways and South Western Railways are heaping on people of Karnataka for the railway infrastructure that they deserve.
Railways, South Western Railways, please stop spreading falsehood and excuses. You have no leg to stand on it.