Dear Railway Minister - It is time for implementation, NOT feasibility studies!

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Commuter Rail
After long 9 months of hard toil, finally the words "Suburban Rail for Bangalore" has reached the ears of our Hon'ble  Railway Minister Shri Kharge. This is what he has to say on this in a public function:
 
Source - The Hindu
 
"...Minister for Railways M. Mallikarjun Kharge has said that a suburban rail network for Bangalore proposed by several 
organisations, is under active consideration.
 
Speaking to press persons after launching several railway infrastructure projects here on Saturday, he said: “No one is more interested in seeing this proposal through, like I am. He said the suburban rail network will help connect the city to nearby towns and taluks, including Chickballapur, Bangarpet, Mandya and Tumkur. “The Rail Indian Technical and economic Services (RITES) has already submitted a report on this suburban rail network. We need to look into the feasibility, ascertain how the project that is likely to require Rs. 10,000 crore will be funded and sharing of costs by the Union and the State government. It is important to ensure that the project is self-sustaining, earns profits or at least runs on a no-profit-no-loss basis.”
 
The Railway Minister said that he had already directed the officials concerned to look into the project’s feasibility and study the proposal submitted by RITES. To execute the project, Bangalore Rail Vikas Corporation could be set up on the
lines of Maharashtra Rail Vikas Corporation..."
 
 
The Railway Minister deserves appreciation for accepting the proposal and lending his helping hand though without any substance and real commitment. I would like to take this opportunity and answer the pertinent questions that Shri. Kharge has raised.
 
Q1. It is important to ensure that the project is self-sustaining, earns profits or at least runs on a no-profit-no-loss basis.
 
Absolutely. Right from the day one everybody who is supportive of CRS/Suburban Rail project is of the opinion that it must be run on "NO LOSS" basis unlike many of the railway projects. The RITES report which is being referred here also proposes the same and goes beyond to lay the concrete recommendations for the same. The fares in Bangalore Suburban Rail service should be higher than the railway fares and must include the cost of operations, maintenance and improvements. See RITES Report (http://www.urbantransport.kar.gov.in/Bangalore_CRS_Final_Report.pdf) on 'Fares Structure for Bangalore, CRS", Sec 9.5
 
Shri. Kharge avare, no body is asking for services laden with losses. There is already a study done to establish that Suburban Rail services can be profitable. For Details Read here.
 
Q2.We need to look into the feasibility, ascertain how the project that is likely to require Rs. 10,000 crore will be funded.
 
This project indeed needs an investment of 9000 crorers, but this is over 3 or 4 phases. To start with, per RITES recommendation, project cans start with 200 Crorers for Phase-1A with 24 daily services which can support 4 lakh commuters per day. Phase-1, Phase-2 and Phase-3 are then planned and funded with various options of loans from institutions like World Bank, Asian Development Bank, IDB etc. People who are involved with projects financed by institutions like World Bank are convinced that project like Bangalore CRS is a project that world bank would have no issue to fund it, given its social and economic impact. The Bangalore CRS project is no different than other mass urban public transport in India that have been implemented with financing from international institutions. Our own "Namma Metro" is an example of this arrangement.
 
Shri. Kharge avare, investment model should not be an excuse to dump this proposal. It is a matter of will and political expediency that is needed here. Here is a summary of RITES recommendation on SPV and project funding for Bangalore CRS - http://www.scribd.com/doc/155718762/RITES-SPV-Model-for-Bengaluru-Suburban-Rail-Service
 
Q3. To execute the project, Bangalore Rail Vikas Corporation could be set up on the lines of Maharashtra Rail Vikas Corporation..."
 
Dear Minister, GOK has already formed a SPV for this purpose. There is no need for another SPV company and there is no need to spend another year to work out the SPV structure.All that is needed now is Railway's acceptance to the GOK requested 50-50 shareholding and becoming a stakeholder in the already formed SPV. Shareholding could be negotiated between GOK and Railways.
 
Dear Railway Minister, time for studies, proposal has long gone. There already exists all the reports and data that is needed for the approvals and its implementation. You don't need any feasibility studies and reports now. What is needed is a firm political will and commitment to the project.
 
It is time for project planning and implementation, NOT initiating studies. Definitely NOT.
 
Shri. Kharge, instead of finding excuses to keep the project in animation, you can do a wonder here before you remit the office in few weeks. Take the lead and hash out all the hurdles that you feel needs to be removed. Take a lead and immediately form a joint steering committee comprising of officials from Railways and State Government to start the project implementation of Phase-1A, which requires only 200 Crores. Take the lead and include this in your 2014-15 budget.
 
Shri. Kharge avare, people of Karnataka, specially people of Bangalore is looking forward to your leadership for Railway Projects all across Karnataka not just Gulbarga constituency that you represent. Let the proof be in sanctioning CRS for Bangalore ASAP.
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Kharge okays special agency for commuter rail

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Minister for Railways Mallikarjun Kharge has announced the establishment of Bangalore Rail Vikas Corporation that will oversee the implementation of ‘Namma Railu,’ a proposed commuter railway network for the City. 

Prof M V Rajeev Gowda — the founder of Bangalore Needs You Foundation, a citizens’ group that has launched a campaign for a commuter railway network for the City — told reporters on Monday that a petition, signed by 40 elected representatives, was submitted to Kharge on Saturday when he inaugurated several amenities at the Banaswadi railway station. 

The petition listed three demands — in-principle approval for the Bangalore suburban rail service from the Ministry of Railways, approval of 50 per cent stakeholder agreement in the Special Purpose Vehicle being set up for implementation of the project between the Ministry of Railways and government of Karnataka, and implementation of Phase-IA of the Bangalore suburban rail service. The minister had okayed the proposal, according to Gowda. 

http://www.deccanherald.c...

Looking forward to see the commitments made by Railway minister to come in writing  for the approval and  Railway Board and GOK to sort out  the SPV issue and kick start the few services as SWR agreed if funding to the tune of Rs 200 Crore received.

 

Bangalore Mysore Passengers Have Increased after doubling

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More here:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mysore/Traffic-on-Mysore-Bangalore-rail-line-on-the-rise/articleshow/34209915.cms

Channapatna towards Bangalore, train will become too crowded and those passengers who alight in Channapatna and Ramnagar rarely get seats to sit. It is high time to start Commuter Rail between  Channapatna to Bangalore now itself.