Namma Railu Round Table - Minutes of the meeting

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Commuter RailPublic Transport

Praja thanks all participants for making it to the meeting & sharing their opinions. Special thanks to Prof.Sitharam (Chairman, CiSTUP) & staff of CiSTUP for their hospitality & for graciously hosting the event.

The meeting was well attended & proved very useful for (re)examining Commuter Rail as a means of mass transportation to supplement the Metro & also to connect the nearby towns. Dr.A Ravindra (Advisor to Hon’ble CM, Urban Affairs) chaired the meeting.

The need for Namma Railu was undisputed - there was clear consensus amongst all participants that a suburban rail system was a pressing need for the city & the nearby towns.

Amongst the participants, the following officials expressed their views during the discussions (The list below is in the order that they began expressing views - apologies, if any names have been excluded mistakenly) :

1) Shri V Madhu, Principal Secretary, Infrastructure Development Dept, Govt of Karnataka

 2) Shri Haldar, Chief Passenger Traffic Member, Hubli

 3) Prof.M N Sreehari, Advisor to Government, Traffic, Transport & Infrastructure

 4) Dr.Ashwin Mahesh, ABIDe, IIM, Bangalore

 5) Shri B S Sudhir Chandra, Director (P&P), BMRC

 6) Shri N P Sharma, CE, BMRC

 7) Shri Prakash Mundoth

8) Shri N Sivasailam, IAS, Managing Director, BMRC

 9) Shri Krishna Byregowda, MLA

 10) Shri M K Shankar Linge Gowda, IAS, Secretary to Govt, Transport Dept.

 11) Shri P E Vivek Menon, Managing Director, Invicus Engineering Co.

 12) Mr Sudhanshu Mani, DRM, SWR, Bangalore Div.

 13) Mr Babu, Sr.DOM, SWR, Bangalore Div.

A brief presentation was initially made by Satya (IDS) about Namma Railu, following which Mr Ravindra requested participants to commence discussions. Following is a summary of the discussions as they occurred in chronological order :


Mr Madhu – Briefly outlined CTTP recommendations, explained about poor progress since last IDD /Praja meeting. Explained that efforts were taking time since Mr K H Muniappa, Minister for Railways, hadn’t responded to his call for a meeting.

Mr Haldar – Explained about constraints for expansion within Bangalore urban (land, excessive number of inter-city trains, etc), focussed on need for automatic signalling when tracks are to be shared - costs must be borne by state. Explained that in the long term, this has to be done with dedicated lines. Yesvantpur-Yelahanka & Yelahanka-Channasandra tracks doubling had been sanctioned, State must chip in for tracks doubling elsewhere. Due to crowded train infrastructure in Bangalore, it was not possible to run any more trains, Baiyappanahalli as hub makes it easier since city station is already over-crowded, NGEF land was necessary for railways, Yesvantpur-Yelahanka
was already full, & SWR cannot operate more trains. Addnl stns were not necessary since stations were already in place at necessary locations.

Mr Sreehari & Mr Ashwin - Explained that the world over, trains were being operated on shared tracks, with frequent stations.

Mr Sudhir Chandra - Explained about Mumbai suburban system, & about the need for separate corridors for an efficient system.

Mr Madhu – BARCL was to invest in airport rail.

Mr N P Sharma – Operations along City-Baiyappanahalli corridor would be difficult. Baiyappanahalli had to be the main hub.

Mr P Mandoth – Stated that development by railways in the last 10 years in areas around bangalore were very poor.

Mr Sivasailam – Stated that despite the long history, commuter rail hadn’t materialized. He stated "Where there is a will, there is a railway. Where there is no will, there is a survey" !

Mr Ashwin – Need for city mobility must be decided by state & taken up, whereas currently rail systems are controlled entirely by the railways.

Mr Sivasailam – Stated that it was better to have an independent system, but even this was subject to regulatory frameworks since rail operation outside urban areas has to be by railways.

Mr Sudhir Chandra – It was feasible to run more trains, but in India, efficiency was low due to the variety of different trains that were being run on the same tracks.

Mr Byregowda – Roads were not being used efficiently, optimization of existing infrastructure was necessary. Hubs must be developed out from city where commuter rail must integrate. 4-5 industrial areas were coming up past whitefield. The need for commter rail is being felt by all, commuter rail cannot be a standalone system & must integrate well with other systems.

Mr Ravindra – A consensus was needed to move anywhere further ahead.

Mr Ashwin – The system will be used for mobility between other points too, such as between Malur & Bangarpet. He quoted an example from London where people used the suburban system to move between suburban towns & not always to /from the city.

Mr Byregowda – Outsource growth (& related problems) to the exteriors by providing connectivity, Place infrastructure ahead of growth rather than growth ahead of infrastructure, as at present. Baiyappanahalli could be a major hub, ensuring reliable connectivity even if the hub is outside the city. This would be accepted by people, assuming bus or Metro services are well integrated.

Mr Ashwin – People must be discouraged to live on opposite side of town to their places of work.

Mr Sudhir Chandra – EMUs most suitable for quick acceleration /deceleration & must be used for Commuter Rail.

Mr Shankarlinge Gowda – An older Rites study had recommended Commuter rail, but IR had rejected, stating that system was choked. Two lines were started recently, but apart from that there has been no change in the last 10-12 years. Ramnagaram /Tumkur services can be run due to doubled tracks.

Mr Madhu – About 46 traffic hubs were planned, out of which 6 were major hubs (Baiyappanahalli, Yesvantpur, Peenya, etc).

Mr N P Sharma – To commence, a survey can be arranged from an agency, but not thro' the railways due to possibility of further delay/s.

Mr Sivasailam – Stns must be built by state, & it must be left to the state to design world class stns, & other such facilities.

Mr Madhu – Permission was needed to conduct DPR, since costs are involved.

Mr Haldar – It was not possible to operate suburban trains during peak hours due to frequent inter-city trains. Funding by state was necessary for upgrading signalling systems.

Mr Krsihna Byregowda – State does not have expertise in running trains. State can contribute if SWR requires it to.

Mr Ravindra – Any type of financial arrangements between state & railways & the modalities could be worked out.

Mr P Mandoth – State had been very generous to railways in the past.

Mr Ravindra – There is the possibility that some suburban towns might not necessarily take off & develop. Networking of transport in BMRDA regions was needed.

Mr Sivasailam – Commuter rail will result in a different pattern of development. BMRDA study may not reveal traffic patterns.

Mr Krishna Byregowda – There can be many uncertainities in development since development is unpredictable. The needeed areas must be provided connectivity.

Mr Ravindra – Basic issues have been summarized well, we need to explore a consensus.

Shankarlinge Gowda – BMRDA towns were not very well planned. Water availability was a question mark for some towns. Commuter rail will have guaranteed ridership in the years to come.

Mr Haldar – It was not possible to run trains to Tumkur or Ramnagaram.

Mr Sudhanshu Mani – Rail infrastructure has been over-stretched even for inter-city trains. They are facing problems since it was difficult to start new inter-city trains.

Mr Krishna Byregowda – We need to first understand if the railways are prepared to work with the city /state for solving the city's congestion problems & for running commuter rail services.

All participants – Commuter rail was a necessity for the city !

Mr Sreehari – Trains were promised from City & Cantt in Dec-2009, but were not started.

Mr Babu – Infrastructure had been insufficient in Dec-2009.

Mr Sreehari – But railways had stated then (in Dec-2009) that they could run these trains.

Mr Babu – Stated that they had started services to Devanahalli.

Mr Menon – Satellite towns were not taking off well, eg. Bidadi. Consensus about commuter rail was encouraging. It was best to agree on timelines. DPR is a good start. Timelines must be agreed for all - Metro, Satellite towns, Monorail, etc. Include commuter rail also into these plans.

Mr Ashwin – As regards the need for commuter rail, even railways would not say no, but they may not say yes either ! Two DPRs must be prepared – one in which SWR is included as a participant, & the other without SWR. Railways must co-operate for DPR preparation.

Mr Sivasailam – Provisions are already there in urban development system, Metro to airport plan is an example, Pre-feasibility study option is available for a start without involving railways.

Mr Krishna Byregowda – There is the possibility of railways later rejecting a study conducted without their involvement.

Mr Sudhir Chandra – If Rites do it, it might be acceptable to railways since Rites is an organ of the railways.

Mr Krishna Byregowda – We have come across such situations earlier.

Mr Sudhanshu Mani – It is not about tech or structure of the study. Railways will accept, but the problem is that of strained infrastructure.

Mr Sudhir Chandra – Can commuter rail work from hubs such as Byp from Bangarpet, etc ?

Mr Babu – Byp was decided as a hub about 3-4 years, for long distance trains & is a necessity for long distance trains. Probability for using it as a hub for commuter rail is about 2% !

Mr Sudhir Chandra – Quick solutions needed, World class stns will take time since even Delhi has not got one yet.

Mr Ravindra – Can we get a DPR done ? Discussion between railways & state can be done later.

Mr N P Sharma – Railways had many plans for the last 25 years, none of which have materialized.

Mr Ravindra – Continue with efforts, involve all interested parties for TOR in about six weeks time.


The meeting ended with an agreement to work on a TOR (Terms of Reference).


 

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Comments

Seems a productive event and focused discussion!

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Naveen,

Thanks for posting the meeting minutes which indicates it was another successful effort from PRAJA resulting in very productive and focused discussions around NR. Glad to know that an action item 'TOR' has been tasked out. Is it due in 6 weeks? Who is to lead the effort?

One other question w.r.t SWR's consistent claim of tracks being overloaded? Any insight into that claim? The RTI info contradicts that claim.

Had inputs from 2 other participants from Praja side and both were very appreciative of the efforts as well as the discussion.

Anyway very good show from PRAJA team.

-Syed

 

Photo Album

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My take-aways

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Yes, it was indeed a very good discussion. Two big take-aways as I see them.

1. Everybody agrees that commuter rail is good for Bangalore, and that it needs to be addressed (some have been trying it for decades now as we all know). Encouraging to see so many stepping forward to support it with no sales effort! In fact, in the beginning, every one seemed to assume this need, and started talking how to get there.

2. Everyone agreed on the next step forward as well - A Terms of Reference (TOR) document will be drafted under CiSTUP leadership with participation of a gamut of agencies. TOR will define the goals, requirements, concerns and constraints from both GoK and Railways points of view. Hope is, this way, future DPR efforts (based on this TOR) will be more acceptable to both.

Many many thanks to CiSTUP who made this happen. Good going NammaRailu team!

MOM - Context

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Process of reaching consensus needs individuals and agencies to put their arguments forward, and sometimes, it involves plain hard talk. It was really good to see the participants taking a shot at making NammaRailu a reality.

It is important to note that the MOM above is a snap-shot summary of a good couple of hours of discussion (Thanks Naveen!). I encourage everyone to take the quotes in the right, positive context and not to get into discussions of why-someone-said-what-not. 

Was a nice focused meeting, need to do more!

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It was heartening to get the confirmation that everyone believes in the concept. Really liked Mr Krishna Byregowda's reminder that CRS can't be your standard demand-driven survey based project. The point that CRS is needed to de-congest and "spread" around Bangalore in a planned way was made very clearly, very impressive.

Now, the hard job here is to get railways and state government to work together. Ever since we began on this Namma Railu thing, we have had umpteen reminders from many people - will never happen, railways won't do it, people have tried before, etc etc..

Well, not that anyone thinks its easy. But I don't think citizens of Bangalore have ever asked for CRS loudly enough. Now we will, with clearly documented, and commonly agreed upon demand report in hand! Let us build some solid pressure, constructively, and we might just make it happen in this year's railway budget itself :)

There were moments when it turned into a us vs you thing on the railways folks who attended. Some of us need to go connect with local railway officials to understand ground realities on their side. Sanjeev is doing that already, should hopefully hear some first hand info on their stand and operational issues soon.

SWR DRM (Blr division), Mr Mani (on the right):

Thanks for the update, EDGE station solutions?

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Thanks very much for the update, couldn't make it due to office commitments.

Looks like everyone likes it, including SWR, but don't know how to implement it with the constraints in hand. These constraints needs to be addressed by SWR in conjuction with GoK.

One of the solutions is the EDGE stations we discussed earlier in Praja here and other solution is Quadrapling or Tripling the tracks wherever possible.

At Naveen: Excellent

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At Naveen: Excellent reporting, sir.
Very good start on a long-drawing affair.  I am also puzzled by the "strained infrastructure" and "Railways had many plans for the last 25 years, none of which have materialized."  Some wild guesses:
- May be the saturation is artificial and primarily because of dated switching / signalling equipment or under-trained personnel or lack of qualified personnel or combinations.
- The plans may not have fructified because of lack of interest or push from previous state govt.s , lack of budgetary support from center or combination.
Seems like BMRCL wanted to "show-off" that they are implementing and also have plans (more of an ego-trip than anything else).
May be those who attended can throw some more light or Sanjeev will get some answers.
More puzzled why the BMTC was not represented.  My impression was that the immediate short-term, implementable goal was to provide more visibility to the existing (under-utilized) stations by providing frequent feeder / loop services.  Hopefully, somebody managed to get the ear of Shankar Linge Gowda.


CRS - A start has been made

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n: Thanks.

We have made a start now & hope to continue to pursue the Commuter Rail option for the city with support from prajas.

TOR would iude...?

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Dear All,

What would this TOR include? And who all are going to work on preparing this TOR?


Draft copy of Namma Railu TOR

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Vinay,

You can see a draft copy of the TOR (Terms of Reference) here.

Thanks Naveen.

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Thanks Naveen.


NR Round Table Event: Minutes of the meeting From CISTUP

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Monday, Aug 30, 2010: CiSTUP, IISc, and Praja.in organized a round table event, Namma Railu 2010 to discuss Commuter Rail System (CRS) as a mobility solution to enable growth of Bengaluru Metropolitan Region (BMR). The event was chaired by Dr A Ravindra, Advisor to the CM. Mr Krishna Byregowda, MLA, several senior officials from transportation and infrastructure departments of Government of Karnataka (GoK), and senior officials from Bangalore division of South Western Railway were present.

The group agreed that a CRS run on existing railway tracks can help connect Bengaluru to surrounding towns like Bangarapet, Chikballapur, Tumkur, Anekal or Ramanagara, etc. Fast and reliable connectivity to surrounding towns can help in de-congestion of the city as well as better planning of BMR.

http://cistup.iisc.ernet.in/august30,%202010event.htm

Updates?

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Are there any updates on this?

Rites is doing DPR, they are

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Rites is doing DPR, they are expected to call Praja also to take our inputs on this along with other stakeholders

Thanks

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for the update

Commuter Rail DPR!

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Source Deccan Herald

However, the commuter railways project has not made much headway, although it gained momentum in the earlier years.

A feasibility study is yet to be commissioned and is likely to take a long time before a concrete proposal of suburban services can be placed.

political will is clearly missing

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I Feel that such projects a strong political will has to be there !! which is missing in karnataka over the years.

 

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