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Namma Railu Advocacy Campaign - It all started here 5 years ago!

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Commuter Rail

Namma Railu - The Citizen's advocacy campaign, it all started here 5 Years ago with that famous 'Praja Train Day'. It was May 8th, 2010 to be the precise day. That one train ride completely changed the lives of many of the Praja members and advocacy campaigns that Praja members have undertaken. Today after 5 years into, I can only say it is the case of 'Glass half full or half empty'. 

In these 5 years, the exepreince was, at times very hopeful, exiting, thrilling and at times most frustrating, all in all everything one can hope for in advocacy campaigns. In these 5 yrs, Namma Railu team has met scores of Urban Planners, Babus, Ministers at state and center, Railway Ministers, railway officials, Politicians, MLAs, MPs, Part Workers and most importantly scores of ordinary citizens across Bengaluru and surrounding towns whose lives are going to be touched by this project. Only 2 people have not been met today - The Chief Minister of Karnataka and Prime minister of India. It is not that we didn't tried, even after repeated request we were not granted the opportunity to meet them.

So far most noteworthy accomplishments of this advocacy campaign is,

  1. GOK agreed with Namma Railu Proposal and entrusted DULT for preparing feasibility Report in 2011.
  2. RITES submitted its Technical Feasibility report to DULT in July 2012 which endorsed the PRAJA proposal on this.
  3. In 2013 March, the then CM Jagadish Shettar gave the in-principle approval but had to be kept in abeyance due to 2013 state election code.
  4. In July 2013, the new Congress govt gave its approval to Phase-1A and issued a gazette notification to that effect.
  5. In Nov, 2013 finally after Praja's persistent follow ups and pressure, GOK sent the formal proposal to Railways for their approval.
  6. RITES has submitted it DPR for Phase-1A to DULT. A meeting is being scheduled next week to discuss this report.

The current status unfortunately is Railways is sitting pretty on it. It has neither given its approval nor rejected it. This has given the perfect alibi for the state government government to do nothing.

There are many sweet and sour moments in this campaign, which I will leave to my esteem NR team members to share.

A brief synopsis of that May 8, 2010 train ride to Hosur

In the summer of 2010, Praja-RAAG (Research, Analysis and Advocacy Group) team members decided to hold their monthly Praja meet on the newly introduced commuter rail service train running between Yeshwantpur and Hosur. That train ride on May 8th, 2010 later turned to be a revelation and opened up a new chapter in advocacy campaign for Commuter Rail Service in Bengaluru. This is how Praja-RAAG founder, Mr. Pranav Jha describes that train ride experience:

“…On the morning of May 8, 2010, Five of us – Muralidhar Rao, Pranav Jha, Manjari, Naveen and Satya – traveled on local commuter train to Hosur to experience firsthand the feasibility of the Commuter Rail System (CRS). Ah! Ufff!. What an eye opener. Easily, the best Praja meeting of all. I am so lost for words here. So would be IDS, Murali, Naveen and Manjari you bet…”

“But all in all, after watching clean and empty train, and nice little stations, all so close from the busy corridors and suburbs of Bangalore, we were wondering why this magnificent option was underutilized while we all debate public transportation.”

Though the discussion on using trains for daily commute was going on since 2008, this ride experience suddenly brought the new energy and ideas to pursue further for commuter rail service in Bengaluru. 

The ride was then followed by the meeting with the then Government Of Karnataka’s Infrastructure Development Department (IDD) Chief, Principal Secretary, Mr. V. Madhu. Meeting with Mr. Madhu proved to be a challenge thrown at Praja-RAAG to come up with a formal proposal for CRS in Bengaluru. The challenge was accepted and a formal project nicknamed ‘Namma Railu’ was initiated by the Praja-RAAG members, Sathya Sankaran, Capt. Naveen Chandra, Sanjeev Dyamannavar and myself. The team then authored the formal proposal titled “Call to Action Report for Bengaluru Commuter Rail Service”. Prof. T. G. Sitharam, Chairman, CiSTUP, Bengaluru, wrote the foreword for the report.



kbsyed61's picture

If there is a will, there will be a train!

178 users have liked.

I am sure NR team remeber these words from the then BMRCL chief, Sivasailam,

If there is a will, there will be a train, otherwise there will be only feasibility reports.

True to his words, Namma Railu is still languishing in one report after the other. His contributions towards this is known and visible here.

Naveen's picture

Suburban rail is a must

183 users have liked.

Hi Syed,

Glad that you are still keeping Namma Railu alive! Can't believe the authorities can be so stupid. The city has gone to dogs with traffic snarls everywhere & instead of pusruing rail soultions vigorously, they are hell-bent on more elevated roads, flyovers, underpasses - seems like road augmentation is the only solution they can think of - after all, railways are out of their "reach" to milk & they see no "benefit" in it for themselves!

Yes, I remember Sivasailam's words very well:

Where there is a will, there is a railway. Otherwise there will be survey.

Unfortunately, the idiots do not seem to want any surveys either now. Hope now rests with CG as this railway minister seems quite efficient. CG has sought SG's report on Suburban Rail for Bangalore.

abidpqa's picture

Reason beyond economics

190 users have liked.

Almost all the places in the country cannot get enough of railway lines, see any state, Delhi, Bombay, Kerala, Tamilnadu, everywhere..  Example, Delhi-Mathura line, which is almost like Bangalore -Mysore,  has 4 tracks and trains almost every 5 minutes; There is antagonism towards railway in Karnataka. Mysore Bangalore doubling is not completed. Bangalore Hassan line work is not being done. There is no double line linking north and south. Land acquisition is just not happening. The reason needs to be found, whether people are satisfied with other modes of transport, whether they are afraid to ask, or afraid railway will change something about culture etc. The economics is just not the reason. There has to be more involvement of the people, like those who have cars and bikes. They have to think if they are forced to own the car, or if they have a choice, also roads will have more space if more people use public transport.

Sanjeev's picture

Thanks Syed for reminding 5 years how it went

173 users have liked.

First meeting at Freedom Park with Sathya & Pranav coming forward on the  COmmuter rail and equal support from Naveen and Syed along with Prof T G Sitharam really helpd in taking this project so far.

Every time the project went for approval and  back to square.

Including review meeting with then Chief Sec ( V S Ranaganath )

Meeting with Tumkur MP Basavaraj,  several meeting with MP Ananthkumar, K H Muniyyappa, Rehaman Khan, Chandre Gowda,  several MLAs including Krishan Byre Gowda, Dinesh Gundu Rao, Rajeev Chandrashekar.

Inspite of strong support from Rajeev Gowda present MP,  having three Railway Minister : Muniyyappa, Kharge, Sadanand Gowda,  with strong inputs from SWR Hubli,  still railway Board managed to keep the project hanging for Approval.

Not even one official meeting at Railway Board level til now for Bangalore Suburban Rail / Commuter Rail.

Many people helped in the course and its really good learning and experience on how State Govt  and Center keep the project not cleared even after 5 years.

Sanjeev's picture

Finally, suburban rail project on tracks

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Proposal pending since Oct 2013, DPR submitted to DULT

The Rail India Technical and Economic Service (RITES) has finally submitted the Detailed Project Report (DPR) on the much-awaited Bengaluru suburban rail project to the Department of Urban Land Transport (DULT).

The DPR was submitted last week and RITES officials have given a presentation on the project. The DULT has now sent the report to the stakeholders involved in the project including the Railways, Ministry of Urban Development and other civic agencies, according to sources.

An official from RITES on the condition of anonymity said, “Our work is technically over with the submission of the report. We have to now wait till all the stakeholders involved in the project give their suggestions. Till then, the ball is in DULT's court.”

The proposal for a suburban rail for Bengaluru has been pending since October 2013. RITES had even submitted a feasibility report on the project, recommending its implementation at an estimated cost of Rs 8,759 crore. The Karnataka government has already formed the Bangalore Suburban Rail Corporation Ltd (BSRCL) to enable the implementation of the project and has also committed to meet half of the project cost.

Interestingly, in February this year, ahead of the railway budget, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had written to Union Railways minister Suresh Prabhu requesting him to include the project in the Railway budget for the current fiscal. The letter stated that the implementation of the suburban rail system will improve the connectivity between Bengaluru and the towns on the periphery. He had stated that it will also help reducing dependence on personal vehicles and contribute to growth along the transit corridor.

Meanwhile, in February 2014, the railway board and the general manager of South Western Railway, Hubballi, had sought clarifications on the project. In March 2014, the South Western Railways gave its consent to the railway board to go ahead with the Bengaluru suburban rail project as per the RITES feasibility report.


Why is it slow on this by GOK or DULT why DPR is not shared.  ALso till now Railway has not given their consent for this even MPs from Bangalore have no say with railway officials which has become highly red tapism  during last one year.

murali772's picture

Fast-tracking, the need of the hour

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A network of suburban rails can connect the City with surrounding towns that are employment generators, helping people reach Bengaluru quickly, maybe in an hour. - - - Despite its proven potential to benefit a million travellers, the project lies trapped in a labyrinthine web of assurances, feasibility reports, and expert studies. - - - Here’s another proof of the project’s painfully slow progress even at the drawing stage: Rail India Technical and Economic Service (RITES) was tasked with preparing a Detailed Project Report (DPR) on the suburban network in September 2013. But only now has it submitted its report to the Department of Urban Land Transport (DULT). The report that cost Rs eight crore to prepare, has taken over 18 months and is still a work in progress. The DPR could take many more weeks before it gets into the public domain. Praja RAAG, a citizen’s collective spearheading a campaign for years to kickstart the project, finds this perplexing. The report, as Praja’s Sathya Sankaran points out, should not dwell on unimportant details. Instead, it ought to go beyond the feasibility report to discuss issues such as commercial model, funding and the Special Project Vehicle (SPV) created to take it forward. - - - -The project deserves a mighty push from all stakeholders concerned, the State, the Centre, the Railways and Commuters Associations. Despite forming a Bangalore Suburban Rail Corporation Ltd (BSRCL) to implement the project and committing to bear half the project cost, the State government has failed to sustain the pressure.

For the full text of the report in the Deccan Herald, click here.

It is tragic that such a project that has been appreciated by one and all as the most cost-effective route to de-congest the city, has still not been fast-tracked by the powers that be. Will enlightenment dawn at least now?

Muralidhar Rao
amithpallavoor's picture

Will the Ramangara MEMU ever

178 users have liked.

Will the Ramanagara MEMU ever become a reality? Forget full fledged services.

murali772's picture

there's absolutely no time to lose

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Suburban rail in Bengaluru did not receive any firm commitment from Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu despite his Cabinet colleagues from Karnataka making a firm pitch for it on Saturday.

While Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers Ananth Kumar and Minister for Law and Justice D.V. Sadananda Gowda stated that suburban rail would help ease the city’s traffic congestion, Mr. Prabhu, though favouring the idea, did not make an announcement or set a time frame.

The Railway Minister, who inaugurated passenger facilities, said that the Centre was committed to providing an integrated and modern transport system to Bengaluru . He said that they would try and work to deliver commuter rail at the “earliest”.

For the full text of the report in The Hindu, click here.

But, going by the following excerpts from a ToI report (full text accessible here), there's absolutely no time to lose, if we are to avoid having to remain stuck for hours together in traffic jams through day and night, as is already happening during morning and evening peak hours:

Traffic can be a nightmare at peak hours. Many roads are pot-holed. Experts warn of an inevitable water crisis. But still companies and people are moving to Bengaluru like never before. Some estimate that an investment of over $1 billion has been proposed in the past 18 months.

The availability of a young, technologically skilled population is driving not just many of the world's biggest brands but many of India's tech-based startups to move or expand into Bengaluru. The trend is accelerating as the world gets redefined by new technological phenomena such as smartphones, social media, artificial intelligence, et al.

Bengaluru accounts for more than a third of the over 1,000 global inhouse centres (GICs) - facilities that combine technology development with back-office functions - of MNCs in India. But the spate of new announcements of GICs over the past 18 months suggests a fresh urgency. Some of the proposed investments are massive.

As such, it's perhaps time the city Civil Society raised the demand, in one voice, for announcing the scheme right away. Most pleasantly, the neta's appear to be doing it, irrespective of party affiliations.

Muralidhar Rao
kbsyed61's picture

What should citizens do now?

161 users have liked.


You are bang on with current scenario and GOK/GOI's apathy towards this proposal.

But Million dollar question is what should  we citizens should do now to bring the politicians to ground.

murali772's picture

Namma Railu (commuter rail) - need for priority

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The next time you buy property from private realtors, be ready for a steep hike in the price. The state government has levied a 5% Metro cess on the market value of fresh land developments, to facilitate implementation of the mass rapid transit project.

- - -  The Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation (BMRC) is expected to mop up an annual revenue of Rs 250 crore with this cess, said UA Vasant Rao, general manager, finance, BMRC.

- - - II phase of Metro project yet to start: The first phase of the Metro project (42km network) is expected to be completed by the first quarter of 2016. The second phase (72km) is yet to get off the ground.

For the full text of the report in the ToI, click here

At approximately Rs 350 cr per km, the 1st phase will cost Rs 14,700 cr, for an estimated ridership of around 400,000. It has taken almost a decade to build that, in the process, causing a lot of disruption in the city life.

The 2nd phase, even considering a conservative Rs 400 cr per km, will cost a colossal Rs 28,800 cr, to allow for another 600,000 ridership. No idea meanwhile as to when it's going to get off the ground, leave alone the question of when it's going to get completed, and equally importantly, how is it going to be funded? Perhaps, we are going to be seeing more and more cesses.

Simultaneously, there's the talk of the Criss-cross elevated corridor for the city, estimated to cost a massive Rs 18,500 crore - check here. Even if it's to be funded through user fees, it's also going to be causing a lot disruption of the city life.

In contrast, Namma Railu (commuter rail - check here for comparison table) could lead to massive migration of population to townships around the city, all within about an hour's cost-effective train ride, levelling off all costs (even bringing them down), obviating the need for any cesses. And, all of it can happen in a matter of a couple of years, and there are no negatives to it all, whatsoever.

OK - Bangalore has grown to a level where Metro is a must, and perhaps even the Criss-cross elevated corridor. But, shouldn't the priority be for Namma Railu?

Muralidhar Rao
Sanjeev's picture

Yes, What Murali says its truth but state Govt deos not want

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State Govt does not want Namma Railu to be reality but keep showing interest on this without any life.

With following things already in place for Namma Railway,  RITEs DPR report by DULT may be  outdated by now.

1. Ramanagar DEMU service statrted

2. Yesvanthpur- Devanhalli  getting extended to Chikballapur

3. Hoody halt station getting built at the cost of Rs 1.70 Crore

4. Krishna Devaraya Halt station at RPC Layout will be improved at the cost of Rs 1 Crore

5. MEMU Shed is getting ready at Banaswadi

6. Electrification between Yelahnaka - Dodballapur is ready

7. Doubling between Yelahanka - Guntakal part of Dodballapur work may start any time after Sept'2015

8. Tumkur sttaion  upgradation work has picked up with proposed 4 Platfroms

9. Yesvanthpur - Whitefield two services may be in the pipe line if SWR agrees

10. Yelahanka - Channasandra & Yelahanka - Yesvanthpur doubling work near completion

11. Yesvantpur - Chikkabanavar ( 7 Kms ) electrification work completed

12. Bangalore city station and Yesvanthpur new FOB, Escalators work has been taken up.

13. New building at Bangalore city station on PF-8 was opened recently with underground vehicle parking

14. Yelahanaka new terminal building getting ready with 5 Platforms

15. Many  ROB & RUBs r in the pipe line.

So u can see clearly GOK is  sleeping and  may wants to produce one more updated RITES report in next year ???  Thats what GOK calls progress on Suburban Rail ???

Mwm_mute's picture

Capacity constraints

181 users have liked.

An educative piece by Bibek Debroy, member of the NITI Aayog, on the capacity constraints faced by the Railways:


Sanjeev's picture

Finally, DEMU Train Service to Whitefield On The Cards

178 users have liked.

The long-pending demand for a diesel-electric multiple unit (DEMU) train to Whitefield is all set to be realised soon.

The Bengaluru railway division on Wednesday sent a proposal to launch two special services between Yeshwanthpur and Whitefield, which will terminate at Malur. 

“A proposal to run a morning and afternoon train from Yeshwanthpur has been sent to the South Western Railway headquarters in Hubballi late on Wednesday evening. Services will commence after we get the green signal,” Bengaluru Divisional Railway Manager Sanjiv Agarwal said.

To facilitate connectivity for people to avail this service, it was also proposed to revise the train timings of the Yeshwanthpur-Nelamangala train, he added.

“There is such a huge demand from the IT sector for trains to Whitefield for quite some time. Bearing this in mind, we have proposed this service,” said Additional Divisional Railway Manager Sunanda Arul.

Agarwal said, “During an inspection on Wednesday, we found that many factory workers alighted at Malur. Initially, we had a proposal of terminating the train at Whitefield, but this would also create a stabling problem at Whitefield before it begins the return trip.”

Extending the service to Malur will be beneficial to the workers and the train can also have stabling space there, Agarwal added.

Timing Change

The move to ease passenger load on the Chamundi Express by introducing the 06540 Bengaluru City-Ramanagaram DEMU Special on July 9 has not clicked due to poor patronage.

“We have also sent a proposal to extend the Ramanagaram train in both directions and change the arrival and departure timings.

The originating station will be Yeshwanthpur and it will then touch the city station and terminate at Maddur instead of Ramanagaram, DRM Agarwal said. The previous starting point was the city station.

This proposal was sent a week ago and it is likely to be cleared soon.


Thanks to positive approach by new DRM Sanjeev Kumar AGarwal, These additional services  of 4 between Yesvantpur - Malur,  Extension of Bangalore - Ramanagar between Yesvanthpur - Maddur   will give  really make big difference to commuters for travelling to Whitefield, Ramanagara.



Sanjeev's picture

WIll PM approve COmmuter Rail/Suburban Rail for Bangalore

175 users have liked.

This is 4th or 5th time PM Modi visiting Bangalore and  common citizens  are affected by poor public transport  in Bangalore and including villagers.

Recent case is when flower prices were crashed forcibely by traders in Chikballapur,  if we had suburban rail,  farmers could have easily  transported the flowers accross bangalore and would have got good price.

When  will PM  over rul the Railway Minister for approving Suburban Rail Bangalore.

When Bangalore is forefront in contribution for Digital Inida,  why present govt is shy of taking forward the Suburban Rail for city and rural people. 

Present Central govt wants only digital india to reach rurla and suburban rail to rural people.

Sanjeev's picture

WIll PM approve Commuter Rail/Suburban Rail for Bangalore

170 users have liked.

This is 4th or 5th time PM Modi visiting Bangalore and  common citizens  are affected by poor public transport  in Bangalore and including villagers.

Recent case is when flower prices were crashed forcibely by traders in Chikballapur,  if we had suburban rail,  farmers could have easily  transported the flowers accross bangalore and would have got good price.

When  will PM  over rul the Railway Minister for approving Suburban Rail Bangalore.

When Bangalore is forefront in contribution for Digital Inida,  why present govt is shy of taking forward the Suburban Rail for city and rural people. 

Present Central govt wants only digital india to reach rurla and suburban rail to rural people. comment guidelines

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