Skip to Content

Train to Airport over High Speed - Prof Sreehari's points

Proposed BIAL station

Continuing on the proposals to start Trains to BIA on South Western Railway's tracks, some of us got a note from Prof Sreehari where he is arguing for investment on this Railway system (CRS) over the proposed High Speed Rail Link (HSRL). News reports have suggested that HSRL is almost dead. The current action on CRS is likely a related event. Here is the note from Prof Sreehari (see below) with some details:

[Please do pour in your constructive thoughts on the previous thread or this one, more constructive we are, better the chances of being heard. This post is to highlight the support the CRS.concept enjoys]

Please find herewith attached important information regarding the utilisation of existing Bangalore - Chikkaballapur rail link which can also support BIA passengers without additional cost to State Govt. SWR has come forward to open up BIA traffic along this route with two pairs of trains from this month end. If required, the frequency can be increased. It is better to make use of this opportunity instead of spending Rs. 3,800 crore for HSRL, when a large number of priorities are in pipeline for Bangalore city.


-    Is it a priority for Bangalore??

Prof.M.N.Sreehari, Traffic advisor & Consultant, Expert member to Agenda for Bangalore Infrastructure Development, GoK, Bangalore.

  1. First of all we have to think whether it is necessary to go for several multimodal options for BIA when a very well laid 6 lane road is available in addition to 4 lane service roads for local traffic.
  2. The proposed cost for HSRL is 3800 crore (130 crore/km), 2500 crore for elevated expressway (without land acquiring cost) etc. just to cater one destination point, i.e. BIA. Is it really worth going for the same?
  3. For the estimated 11 million annual passengers (in an average 30,000 passengers per day and 1200 passengers per hour, distributed round the clock). Is such an uneconomic expenditure warranted? It is quite evident, even after the various proposed projects; most of the trips are shared by road based vehicles as they operate from door to door.
  4. If at all it is to supplement the road traffic, then a monorail is preferable, which is more economical to operate (35 kms at a cost of 85 crore/km as against 130 crore/km for HSRL/Metro). That too, only if the demand exists.
  5. If the State Govt. succumbs to the strong lobbying by HSRL advocating people, later it will have to repent the decision. Hence, it is better not to waste so much of money from exchequer on this cause, when we have other priorities like water supply, sewage, power, road widening, etc.
  6. The existing Bellary road has a V/C ratio of 0.37, which is a very good performance and considering the 10 years growth projection, this value may push to 0.6 or 0.7, which is still good.
  7. If the need arises, monorail is preferable with its lesser cost under PPP model.
  8. In Delhi, A/P link is provided because the same track moves to Gurgaon, which is a highly developed area and it is a major trunk route for traffic. Same need not be adopted here.
  9. Monorail can take 30 minutes (completed in PPP model), with zero pollution  level, without any subsidy, runs on a small column and beam, which can be completed in a few months for the given ridership.
  10. Since Bangalore has a unique identity, problem and solutions, we need not follow any other city’s model.
  11. State Govt. should not patronize for this uneconomic and non viable projects like   HSRL.
  12. Hence, it is more viable  to run trains (without any expenditure) with suitable augmented frequency on the existing rail corridor upto Chikkaballapur and halt at Yerthaganahalli/Doddajala which is near BIA and integrate it with bus transport to BIA.
  13. Passengers can board the buses later to reach BIA using up-ramp (available for vehicles coming from Devanahalli side) to reach airport road.
  14. Existing Chikkaballapur railway line is proposed to be used initially with two pairs of trains, one from city station & another from Bangalore cantt station as assured from SWR without any expenditure from the state. The frequency can be increased based on the demand. About 1000 passengers can be transferred per direction per train, which takes about 60 minutes for one-way trip. Station can be located at Yerthaganahalli, where passengers can get down & take waiting bus to BIA.
  15. The attached drawing indicates the location.

rs's picture

Hi I think perhaps a

Hi I think perhaps a monorail link to the proposed SWR rail link would be ideal - with an SWR train once an hour or so. It may take a little more time than driving but would cost a lot less and also be a lot cheaper for people to use. Its not clear to me who the target user is in HSRL - airport workers will find it too expensive and business travellers would use taxis by and large - if you can pay 250+local taxi you might as well pay 500 point to point. Leisure travellers would not mind using the local train service even if it takes a little time. Besides, the SWR link would also benefit people going from, say Malleswaram to Yelahanka. Not everything in this city should be catering to people leaving it ;). Newark Airport now has such a thing - monorail to commuter rail - and it is very useful and popular. One could also have a direct train from other towns such as Mysore to the commuter rail station. The HSRL, apart from costing a ridiculous amount, will destroy whatever little greenery that exists now, cause massive traffic problems while being constructed and finally, will benefit only a very small number of people. Frankly, I also think that perhaps the Metro should be extended up to Yelahanka at least - and linked up with the SWR rail. Though I am really glad that Commuter rail seems to be taking off in Bangalore. They should also introduce rail service towards Kengeri from the city/Malleswaram/Yeswantpur. It seems a shame that the existing infrastructure is so massively underused in spite of the great need for it. Ramesh Ramesh
blrsri's picture

how does it work?

Should we always have a sizable population already at a place to connect it with a metro like Sreehari/Sreedharan suggests?

Will metro not spur growth in green field regions?

can we not have few stations for the metro now and few coaches now. We can increase both as the population increases..

I am not for monorail because its non standard and also whos got the guts to pick up on a PPP project with the prevailing market conditions? MAYTAS anyone! :P

s_yajaman's picture


Thank you Mr.Sreehari.  Good to see some sanity prevail and some basic questions being asked.  If the answer then is that HSLR still makes sense, then it is fine.   With due respect to Mr.Sreedharan - but to a man with a hammer everything looks like a nail. 

One point i did not like - "road widening".  Please exorcise that demon as well.  The goal should be to decongest the city centre so that people can reach the airport in reliable times (90 mins from Silkboard Jn give and take 10 mins; 75 mins from Jayanagar 4th block given and take 10 mins; 75 mins from Koramangala give and take 10 mins).  The airport is the tail on the dog.  It cannot wag the dog.  The dog still is the absolutely miserable commuting times within the city.

Some more questions that can be asked

a. At what point does a HSRL make sense?  When the airport reaches a 30 million or 40 million usage?  What would be the fare?  Where should it originate from.  I think one what-if analysis merits consideration.  Based on realistic growth rates when will Bangalore reach a 40 million traffic level - at 16% growth rates it will take 10 years to hit this volume. 

b) At what ariport volume would NH7 be clogged from Yelahanka to City? . Is there a significant cost difference between having tracks and rolling-stock for a 160kmph train and one that goes only 80 kmph?  What is that difference?  Why have we not considered a MSRL?  Does the MSRL work at 20 million traffic projection?  Will this 20 million traffic be the breaking point for NH7 and the break-even point for MSRL?  Essentially what sort of investment will be justified by a ridership of 8-10 million a year at Rs.100-150/ticket and an IRR of 10-12%.  If it is Rs.1000 crores (for argument's sake) - then can we build something in that Rs.1000 crores - Mono/Metro/Surface?  For me if it is unique to airport then govt should not put in tax-payers' money into this project

c. What will it take to extend NICE Peripheral Road till NH7 so that people going to West and South Bangalore can use this.  What will be the cost, etc?  How much load will this take off NH7 from Hebbal? 

d. Get BIAL to open up the east so that SH104 can be used from Old Madras Road.   

e. Get SWR to run a couple of commuter rail trips early morning and late night for benefit of airport employees and passengers who want to use them as well.

f. If they still have 4000 crores to spare - please add a Mono/Metro from BYP to ITPL or from Puttenahalli to E-City via NICE corridor.

We cannot afford Maglev's and other flights of fancy when we don't have money for decent footpaths and proper bus-stops.   


Drive safe.  It is not just the car maker which can recall its product.

Make Yarthanganahalli a TTMC

Ideally, the Yarthanganahalli stop should be converted to a full fledged TTMC. This way many people taking NH 7 towards Andhra Pradesh can catch a bus at that TTMC.

It will be very useful during peak hours. Esp weekends like Friday evening and Saturday evening and the evening before naitonal holidays.

Ideally, if i had to catch a bus to Hyderabad or Ananthpur or any place in Andhra Pradesh via NH-7, i would take the CRS from SBC during peak hours, change at the Yarthanganahalli TTMC. This way the pressure at the Majestic bus station is partially reduced.

Further, should the Peripheral Ring Road come up, it would be closer to the Yarthanganahalli TTMC which would additionally drive growth.

Third, the upcoming Devanahalli Business Park, as i have many times reiterated, would need a lot of workers coming in and going out.

Lastly, i wrote to Shri Rajeev Chandrashekar about the proposed Thanisandra corridor of NHAI. This would further obviate the need for HSRL if up. 
bialterminal's picture

The current proposal to run

The current proposal to run a train that takes 80 mins for a for a mere 40 odd kms plus the hassles and additional time added due to the transfer from the devenahalli station (literally no-mans land..illu alla, allu alla types) make this an unacceptable short term OR long term solution be it for passengers or airport employees.

What should happen?

1) The ideal solution would be to have a branch into BIA extending from the existing SWR rail line, ultimately terminating at a huge public transportation center in front of the terminals. The public transportation center can be connected for direct access to the multiple terminals via covered walkway ramps grade separated from vehicular traffic.

2) The BIA rail line can have a siding that goes into the cargo terminal thus taking care of ferrying cargo pallets to the cargo terminal.

3) The result should be that in 35mins or less one should be able to get to the terminals at BIA from the city center

What does it take to achieve this?

1) First off, a sensible panel of experts under the single umbrella of a highly empowered Unified Infrastructure Task force (UITF) formed with the single purpose of providing the best possible integrated transportation infrastructure for the Bangalore metropolitan area. Most importantly this task force should be able to get things done without turf wars (wishful thinking i guess). The Indian Railways must be a key partner if this entire plan has to work and the task force must be able to make the railways do what needs to be done.

2) Railways & BIAL can form a joint venture for this effort with divsion of appropriate responsiblities.

3) Railway infratructure (track, signalling & other technology) needs to be upgraded to support high speed operations upto at least 100mph(160 kmph).

One may say -> this is expensive dude! and moreover Why should the railways do it?

Well I would say ->

A) First off, it is much much much more expensive to build a dedicate high speed rail link which would be ultimately be used by a very small percentage of traffic/people and would be completely redudant considering that we will have i) a metro line ii) a underutilized high speed line built at an exorbitant cost iii) the SWR rail lines. (basically 3 rail systems, metro and SWR are needed and need to be separate, question is why a third one?)

B) Secondly, I would call this as killing 2 birds with one stone, railways will get to upgrade it's technology & infrastructure to higher speeds. I agree that this upgrade will not happen on the entire network, but for starters at least some section will get upgraded. This would be beneficial to the railways in the long run as whatever upgrades they do can be used to increase efficiencies on their own network. I hope the railways see this as a business venture of sorts where they can provide high speed cargo access to the airport on a priority basis.
I have modified the image found in the initial post in this thread to illustrate the extension into BIA - http://img136.imageshack....
Devesh's picture

BIA rail link

I refer Prajagale to my comment on Praja, which will give an idea of capacity. At 10 million passengers per year, the number of passengers per day on a rail link, BEST CASE, 8,000. With Rs. 200 per trip, and I think Vasanth did the calculation on this, a 10% operating profit, there is no way on God's green earth this will pay. The airport link will have to cater to workers at the airport, and if possible commuter traffic in between, i.e. the Singapore model. For airport workers, there is no way Rs. 200 per trip or Rs. 400 per day will work out. That will be Rs. 10,000 assuming a 25 day work month.

Any city rail planner will confirm. rail and road must be perpendicular to each other, not parallel, in order to be a sucess. Parallel only divides the ridership and reduces the catchment area around the rail tracks.

Shanghai and China have buckets of money they need to plough to keep their economy humming. Even at 7% growth the Chinese leadership faces political challenges since it cannot generate adequate employment. Dictatorship and its preservation, is not the concern in India.

I spoke to the Professor, there are some flaws in his capacity calculations. We are meeting and resolving this. Long term CRS is not the solution, whether it is Metro, or mono, is immaterial. Both will move at 80kmph, and very frankly 15~20 minutes additional will not deter passengers. However, VERY CLOSE INTEGRATION i.e. same platform, with Metro will be crucial to any airport link's success.



Devesh R. Agarwal

Visit my aviation blog at

Bangalore Aviation
Enjoy life, destroy FUD
Devesh's picture

BT, SWR is not the answer

 1) The ideal solution would be to have a branch into BIA extending from the existing SWR rail line, ultimately terminating at a huge public transportation center in front of the terminals. The public transportation center can be connected for direct access to the multiple terminals via covered walkway ramps grade separated from vehicular traffic.

2) The BIA rail line can have a siding that goes into the cargo terminal thus taking care of ferrying cargo pallets to the cargo terminal.

3) The result should be that in 35mins or less one should be able to get to the terminals at BIA from the city center

BT, I refer you my post in another forum. The fundamental problem is that Yelanhanka is the choke point. One option I can think of, is a rail over rail bridge at Yelahanka to bypass YEL, but with the sheer lethargy of the Railways bureaucracy and the fact that every thing is centralised in Delhi, with very litte local leverage, it will probably take 3 years just to get that bridge done. A monorail connection will probably get done in 2 years to lesser.



Devesh R. Agarwal


Bangalore Aviation
Enjoy life, destroy FUD
bialterminal's picture

re :BT, SWR is not the answer

Devesh, I agree with you that what I outlined is a solution that would not work (no doubts). There was a crucial line that i deliberately missed in my posting (I deliberately left it out to not sound pessimistic), and that line is -
Given that this is India and that it is the Indian Railways that we are dealing with, I give it a remote possibilty of the above solution even getting off the ground.

In essence I agree with you on what you are saying, and it is just sad that it cannot happen.
transportplanner's picture

Few Facts about the above suggestions by Prof Sreehari

1. First and foremost mono rail has low carry capacity compare to metro rail, in future, not only people using BIAL will board the train, but the people residing adjacent (0.5 to 1km) to the rail corridor (all along bellary road)will board the train, in terms of passenger carry capacity i prefer Metro rail is best 2. i am not sure on what basis did he (sreehari) got the loading. because as per him 30,000 passenger /day, but in actual more than 30,000 passenger/hr will board the train. 3. i agree to prof sreehari that most of them will share the road, but let us not forgot the increase growth in future, if the journey time gets reduces drastically by rail then, there will a shift from road user to rail user,this can be achieved by metro rail. 4. Coming to Running the Rail on the existing track of chickbalapur, its a good idea and economical but can we run a frequent trains on this track, with already schedule for other trains and more over existing is a single track. which railway people will not agree for it.
blrsri's picture

whos ready to do the PPP?

Monorail or HSRL..I wonder who is ready now to take on this at this point with the markets looking so low!

I believe Metro is the ideal long term solution..probably the authorities should plan on the long term and atleast freeze the route and reserve(buy) land for the metro line now and then look at construction when the area around the airport starts developing!

The land prices will hit the lowest in the next few months and thats when the deals should freeze

Also, Its a good idea to convert the high speed road corridors planned between madiwala and hebbal to another route for the metro and this can eventually be extended to EC on oneside and Yel/apt on the other..

idontspam's picture

Why Metro OR HSRL?

It need not necessarily be Metro/CRS OR HSRL. It can be Metro/CRS AND HSRL. If you take an example of Arlanda Express (stockholm airport HSRL), It shares track space with commuter rail.

Similarly if we make space for another dedicated track along current railway land till yarthaganhalli or if we want to build track for HSRL make space for a metro track also till yelahanka. This way cost of one service can be shared with the other also and you get best of both worlds.

You will see in the below video the innermost track is used by the slower commuter rail. The outer most track is used by hi speed trains which run non stop at more than 200kmph. At 1:48 minute you will notice Arlanda express zooming past. a few more go by and at minute 3:00 you will notice the same track shared by an intercity non stop high speed train.

s_yajaman's picture

Indian Railways can be convinced

Was speaking to a friend - ex Indian Railways.  He mentioned that to get IR to do any project, you have to convince them that they will not lose money on it.

He gave some rough numbers on what it would cost to add a surface line to BIAL - it would cost about Rs.250-300 crores for 35 route-km (70 track-km) with 4 DMUs.  Surface line with a few pre-cast underpasses can work.  Elevated for the entire length is overkill.  Fencing can also be put along the sides to prevent intrusion.

Railways usually has land along its existing tracks.  GoK and IR can form an SPV to run this project.  BIAL will have to give land at the airport side for a station and run buses from the station to the terminal building.  Revenue can also be in the form of advertisements or like the branded trains (Kingfisher Express and Jet Express e.g) and IR and GoK can share revenues.



Drive safe.  It is not just the car maker which can recall its product.

Why not HSRL through Thanisandra?

At grade HSRL can be integrated into the proposed Thanisandra expressway. Ideally, the median gap can be widened to accomodate a HSRL in the centre.

Perhaps a mixture of Underground from BRV Police Grounds upto Nagawara Lake (where the thanisandra road starts)  can be utilised in order to minimise disruption in the eastern portion of Bangalore.

There is no wisdom to putting another BETL type elevated highway on the already flawed design of Bellary Road.
idontspam's picture

Airport expressway

The expressway by itself seems to have been dropped because we were providing benefits to some people (who used the airport) while trodding over the others (who lost land). Those who havent lost lands joined in opposing the expressway because they had nothing to gain from the expressway except road noise. 

Imagine if we double decked the expressway and gave the people of the area the benefit of metro/commuter train connectivity to the city at the same time we put up the expressway and HSRL as well wouldnt that be a win-win? We sold it all wrong because we were selfish.


rs's picture

Its back

Its seems that - at least according to todays paper - the HSRL is back. Will all due respect to Sreedharan I suspect that is he not entirely aware of the damage this will do to Bangalore. Besides, from what I read - 

1. The actual number of people using the airport is much less than anticipated - though that may be a temporary phenomenon.
2. No one is really complaining about the current access to the airport - the Vayu Vajra system seems to be quite popular and works well.
3. The people who might be unhappy right now are the people who work at the airport - but the HSRL does not cater to them.
4. Actually - who does the HSRL cater to ? 
5. 6000 crores  is a lot of money - can be used for better things like roads and footpaths and perhaps burying electricity cables. - why is it being spent on people who want to leave the city. I think at best they should build a rail link to Yelahanka and make the metro go up to there. That way at least the people living in Yelahanka, Sahakarnagara etc. can benefit from a rail link to the city.


blrsri's picture

..but let see how it works

they plan it PPP..lets see how many cos even submit their intent in this project..

even if they do..lets see how they implement..

even if they build..lets see if they get the ridership..

I am foreseeing a expensive metro coming to existence in guise of HSRL!

6000 crores waste for elite travel

I wrote to a prominent MP representing Bengaluru and he dodged the question of "business class" travel. HSRL is just a fancy for these corporate types. It does not serve the purpose and will not have adequate ridership.

The Thanisandra corridor can be expanded without much hassle. NHAI identified this corridor. Further more if PRR can be speeded up, it can be linked to BIAL better. 
Vinay's picture

Accept, compromise and live in peace

I have been an opponent of this HSRL concept from the very beginning. But now that the decision seems to have been taken, I guess we have to live with the decision and look at the positive side - no other choice. Since the decision has already been taken, and several corrupt babus and netas will be able to fill their bulging pockets, we can probably push for this HSRL to be extended till Silk Board and Electronics City. At least then it will benifit a few city folk too.

s_yajaman's picture

More in DH Today on HSRL

Looks like it is not signed and sealed yet.

The High Speed Rail Link (HSRL) to the Bangalore International Airport would be a huge drain on the States exchequer and hence alternative road options were being explored, revealed, Prof M N Sreehari, Traffic, Transport and Infrastructure Adviser to the State government.

“The project costs a whopping Rs 18,000 crore. We are finding alternative roads to BIAL which would save the travel time of the passengers instead of implementing the HSRL,” he said.


Where did the 18000 cr number come from now?  I have asked a friend (ex IR) to help make a proposal on a commuter rail.  That is still viable with a few hundred crores vs such big numbers



Drive safe.  It is not just the car maker which can recall its product.

Thanisandra Corridor

I hope Prof M N Sreehari speeds up the implementation of the Thanisandra Corridor - this could directly link to BIA and to even the proposed new terminal of BIA in the near future. 

Alarming growth of traffic

That speec which DH mentions about by the good professor, notices an alarming increase in vehicle population. This despite the economic slowdown. Unless there is some sort of disincentives on private modes of transport, efforts such as metro, mono, bus rapid, feeder et al are going to go waste. 
murali772's picture

Sreedharan recommends high-speed rail connectivity to airport

Sreedharan said a highspeed rail link would be the best way to connect the city to the Kempegowda International Airport. Imagine the kind of land required for the Metro project and the amount of time it will take to complete the track to the airport. The best option would be a high-speed rail link with check-in facilities at the city centre, from where the link should commence,“ Sreedharan said.

For the full text of the report (emphasis added by me) in the ToI, click here.

Yes, as an extension of Namma Railu project, perhaps.

Muralidhar Rao comment guidelines

Posting Guidelines apply for comments as well. No foul language, hate mongering or personal attacks. If criticizing third person or an authority, you must be fact based, as constructive as possible, and use gentle words. Avoid going off-topic no matter how nice your comment is. Moderators reserve the right to either edit or simply delete comments that don't meet these guidelines. If you are nice enough to realize you violated the guidelines, please save Moderators some time by editing and fixing yourself. Thanks!

about seo | forum