Commuter Rail - Will it really help ?

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Commuter RailPublic Transport

As most of us are aware, the track record of suburban railways in the larger Indian cities has been pathetic. Other than Mumbai, there is'nt a single example where such a service has successfully attracted commuters & helped reduce road congestion. Most of them have been total failures.

The Delhi circular rail has been a complete failure & is used more for goods trains. Patronization levels are extremely poor, not to mention their Metro, which has also not fared well, thus far.

Chennai MRTS has been a total flop, but since they have already invested so much, there is no going back & other phases continue to be built, with a hope that revival might be around the corner once connectivity improves with the newer phases.

Hyderabad MMTS was losing about 1 crore each month. Currently, patronage levels are on the rise, probably due to high road congestion levels & also since many may be finding it a useful alternative to reach the newer technology clusters.

Kolkata's extensive suburban rail system includes a circular railway as well as a dedicated rail to connect to the airport. The circular & airport rail services are said to carry passengers numbering in single digits, sometimes. The Kolkata Metro has also not been successful, but all continue to run, since they have been installed.

Thus, investments estimated to cost hugely have tended to be put forward, without considering long-term implications of operating costs, passenger volumes & revenues. Given this abysmal record on cost, construction period lengths & poor traffic, the question is should we be investing in Commuter rail for Bangalore at all ?

To start with, the service would be handicapped with severe route restrictions, confined to only the existing track routes. Unless connectivity with Metro or faster bus services are provided from stations, this service may also end up in the same way.

One can understand why SWR has been so hesitant to get involved with this.