I was at a BCIC meeting this week wherein Devesh had invited Mr Arvind Jadhav (GoK's principal secretary for infrastructure development) over for a talk. Mr Jadhav mentioned some exciting plans, we should hear them soon in mainstream media. Commuter Rail Service was one of them, looks like things are moving, and we may get one or two services pretty soon! Here is a summary of CRS stuff that Mr Jadhav mentioned:
- The main problem is this - SWR doesn't have capacity at the times when CRS would get used - peak morning and evening hours. They might have capacity during mid-day hours, but then, whats the point!
- However, they have figured out possibility for a Yeshwantpur (YPR) to Attibele (Electronics City) service. It could start as early as six months from now. This is not official news yet, but Mr Jadhav sounded confident enough.
- Services from YPR to Devanahalli side again has capacity problems, but GoK is pushing for doubling of line between YPR and Yelahanka. Its going to happen, and happen quick.
- I didn't hear anything concrete on Whitefield, Nelamangala and Bidadi/Ramanagar sides. There is a long pending demand for Nelamangala-Bidadi service, it is being looked into.
Before jumping into details and using them to criticize (will stations be upgraded, how about the fares, is there a business case with just one or two services, will frequencies be good enough, any integration plan with BMTC, quality of coaches etc etc), let us congratulate the government on pursuing this with seriousness and intent. Lets get one foot in the door first, and the we shall see and ask for more - that seems to be the approach here. Not an issue with that sir, we all look forward to building some serious public interest and excitement for a Commuter Rail Service!
Another very interesting thing we heard regarding South Western Railways, and I see this linked to Commuter Rail in the long term was this. An idea being floated is to give SW Railways land near Devanahalli (ten tracks width worth of station) and request them to move some or all of their services from the City station. That would be a master stroke as it'd 1) develop BIAL's airport as a real mobility hub - arrive at Bangalore, take your Shatabdi to Mysore. and 2) it could possibly free up capacity on the tracks within the city to help expand Commuter Rail in future. Yep, it did remind me of this old post (Edge stations ...) here. Either way, I love this line of thinking.
Keep thinking GoK, we look forward to more action on these lines!
[PS: the post is based on my recollection from the talk, there may be some inaccuracies]