What matters for Commuter Rail Sucess?

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Commuter Rail

"..most important things in success of commuter rail is, geographic location, geographic location and geographic location."

 Sounds very familiar? Similar to Divya Balan's famous lines from the movie, Dirty Picture. But that precisely is the conclusion of a study conducted by Rowan University's Geospatial Research Laboratory, New Jersey.

The study was undertaken to examine the 3 rail alignments that have been proposed by the Delaware River Port Authority and determine how each of these alignments affect potential usage.

Courtesy -  Study by, John Hasse, Ph. D, Geospatial Research Laboratory, Rowan University.

Study Title -  A Geographic Evaluation of Gloucester County Commuter Rail Options

This study makes very important revelations about things to be considered for implementing the mass transit systems, specifically commuter rail service. Here are some excerpts from this study report.

Questions that defines the success of commuter rail service

  • How well the alignments/routes link people with activity centers?
  • Which alignments/routes will most successfully improve access to core areas of employment?
  • Which alignments/routes will most successfully improve access to core areas of redevelopment?
  • Which alignments/routes best serves commercial, institutional and medical activity centers?

People don't like to change

  • Change of travel mode or interchange is the major impediment
  • 58% of commuters were willing to only one transfer
  • Ridership drops by half for every transfer of travel mode


Conclusion - Success of commuter rail will depend upon on the geography of its location.

After going through this study, I had only one question for Bengaluru Commuter Rail Service:

How well the upcoming RITES report will address these factors?



Very good inputs to the policy makers

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Thanks Syed providning this usefull info,  Urban Transport policy makers should go thru this study report to understand better how Bangalore Commuter Rail should be  planned.

Most important outcome from that report which directly tells how Bangalore Commuter Rail should be :

geographic alignment is pivotal for system success.

People don't like to change

  • Change of travel mode or interchange is the major impediment
  • 58% of commuters were willing to only one transfer
  • Ridership drops by half for every transfer of travel mode

Above things brings clearly : Most of the  Citizens will like to use public  Transport if they can cover the daily or regular travell by  doing one  or two interchange only not more then that.

Geographical allignment will change the tarvell pattern by commuters. Take example of Yesvantpur - Hosur Trains,  which takes  just 60 Mini,  makes more attractive for Commuters to reach the nearest station on this segment to use the trains,  instead of travelling on the Hosur Road by Vechile.

Simillarly,  if  Chikbanavar  - Whietfiled /  Yelahanka - Whietfiled  Commuter Trains exists, then Gegrophical allignment and residing of peopel will change drastically.

Similar analysis of proposed routes?

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If we were to make similar analysis of proposed routes (as done in PRAJA's Call to Action Report), we would find that each one exceeds the criteria proposed in the above study.

Each one of the 6 routes touches - commercial, educational, industrial and residential pockets. From a geographic location point fo view, these routes pass through some of the densely populated localities on both ends.

In coming days will give a try to draft such an analysis on proposed Namma Railu routes.

dont like to change

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People dont like to change trains, so the routes should be as long as possible. So instead of changing train in yesvantpur/yelahanka etc, there should be pass thorugh trains. Tumkur-Bangalore-Hosur, Ramangar-Bangalore-Bangarpet, Chikballapur-Bangalore-Ramnagar, Dodballpur-Bangalore-Hosur. This arrangement is better than terminating local trains in stations inside city limits.

Don't like change

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I agree with the views of rackstar reg running of commuter rail thru the city but not terminating at the existing main stations. Bulk of the commuters hv their residence as well as work place in city suburbs.it makes sense therefore not to alight at existing busy stations in daily commute.

Change of Transit Mode Vs Change over!

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rackstar,  devadas jeppu,

The point made in the report is about 'Change of Mode'. Pls pay attention to the wordings and details in the report.

Lets not confuse 'Change over to different Transit Mode' Vs 'Change Overs to same transit mode.

I must point out that the length of the direct route is determined not just by one criteria rather by different needs - Demand, Optimum Efficiency and availability of pit lanes etc. I would like to get your attention to Praja's call to action report which takes this into consideration and has proposed a maximum of one change over if one is required to go from one town to the town (From Chikaballapur to Hosur, Bangarpet, Ramanagaram, Tumkur , Vice-Versa).

What this study helps us understand is to design CRS in such a way that keeps the change over to minimum and if possible zero change overs to other transit system, except for last mile connectivity. What is being pushed is making the mass transit system as last mile connectivity. Repeated attempts from different quarters both in Gov and outside are to restrict commuter rail's reach and objectives.

From the information that is reported in press from time to time, it is clear that commuter rail will be run but not the way it should run. Instead of running through the city they would like to stop it at the periphery of the city where Metro Stops. Design is to force commuters to change over to Metro from CRS. This is clearly way to kill CRS when it can't be wished away.


Instead of stopping commuter rail at periphery stop long running

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Instead of stopping commuter rail at periphery stop long running trains at peripheral stations. Let people switchover to commuter rail /  Metro. I don't think there is a good integration between Metro and commuter rail except in Yeshwantpur Station, where one has to walk long to Metro station and Byappanahalli where still things have to be sorted out.

For instance, in Nayandahalli Metro station is on Mysore Road Ring Road Junction, whereas Nayandahalli station is very far off. Either Nayandahalli station has to be shifted next to Metro Station (ring road Mysore Road junction)  where the track passes or Metro needs to be run till Nayandahalli Station. I think it would be nice if SWR comes up with a stop next to metro, since in future, even light/monorail will also pass through the same junction.  But, non-co-operative SWR is the problem.


We earlier had talked about EDGE stations here  where long distance trains should stop. Within the city, track space is valuable and should be used for commuter rail. Long distance trains should use circular tracks like Ring Roads to bypass the city station.

Long lines

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@kbsyed61, agree change of train is not change of mode, but still you may miss train or you will lose time waiting for another train. Even if there are pass through single lines there will be people who will need change to another line to reach destination. But majority of people will be saved from alighting and changing train. People wont mind this only if frequency of trains is very high like metro.

In the above map yellow and pink lines can be made single line making ramanagara-yelahanka-devanahalli. And red and green line can be made single line so it will be hosur-yesvantpur-tumkur. Still there will be some percent people who will need change of train, but it will help majority people save time.

Problem will be in Managing the Schedule timings

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Its always desiarable to have minimum change over for commuters point of view.  This can be done  if there are dedicated corridors available with heavy traffic flow like  Mumbai.

It will be difficult to manage the Schedules when distance between start and end point increases for operational point of view.   Maintening the time schedule will be very difficult and will end up  trains running late or not sticking to announced schedules.

As suggested by Rackstar,  for Ramanagar - Yelahanka - Chikballapur will be 110 Kms length   and about the Hosur - Yesvantpur - Tumkur will be 128 Kms length.   Commuters travelling  from Hosur to Tumkur will be less as compared to tarvelling arround Bangalore.   For these you need express Trains not Commuter Rail / Suburban Trains.

Above things  will tend towards  Intercity Trains like Hubli - Kochivelli via Yesvantpur.  So  if this becomes regular train, then this will serve the intercity of  Tumkur - Hosur.  Same thing will be  their, in future  when Trains are run between Chikballapur  - Mysore.

Take the case with Pune - Mumbai,  Even though its high traffic corridors,  they have more Intercity trains  between these places.  Here Suburban Trains are run between  CST - Khatraj and Pune - Lonaval.


Not possible!

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You are right. Everybody would like to get onto daily commute from our home's door step. But that can only be a wish. It is not possible to provide PT system from the doorsteps of our homes to main door of our offices/business/factories with NO CHNAGEOVERS. It is possible only by own vehicles. I am sure everybody understands and nobody expects PT to be at our door steps. But what is expected is reliable, easily accessible and reasonably priced PT system that we all can use for daily commute.

Sanjeev has rightly pointed out length will have negative impact and operational costs as well. The route, stations, schedule and frequencies are to be balanced with operational factors also.

The routes given in PRAJA report is the bare minimum where CRS should start running. Anything less than will be anything else but not commuter rail. Once it starts chugging, adjustments to routes, frequencies and extensions should be considered knowing the demand. It should be a continuous process, which rarely seen in any public service in India. But that culture has to change, am positive it will change once we have the critical mass of public demand for such exercise.

Across city

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Thanks for the replies. @Sanjeev, even though  Hosur-Tumkur is 128km, hosur-bangalore will be 50km only and there can be some 10 min deviation in schedule for this much distance. More than hosur-tumkur direct travellors it will help say karmelaram-peenya travelers because they need not change train in between. So waiting time and train changing hassle is saved. However karmelaram-yelahanka people will have to change train once.

As you told Mysore-Chikkaballapur serves the same purpose. I had earlier proposed extending all existing bangalore terminating trains to extend across to beyond bangalore. Like Mysore-Bangalore passenger or fast-passenger trains can be extended to chikkaballapur, but this will have schedule variations as the distance is more. And all passengers coming from tumkur can be extended to Hosur or Bangarpet so they wont terminate at bangalore.

Regular intervals!

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What you are suggesting with long distance trains could be used as short-gap arrangement till a formal CRS start plying. Not a bad idea. Infact people have been using these trains for their regular commute even today. I have used it from 1985-90 between B'lore to Ramanagaram.

But to call or institute a formal commuter/suburban rail, these long distance trains will not fit the bill. I will give you the reasons.

  1. For CRS, it is important to cover as many stations as possible to cater to more numbers. For long distance trains it is not advisable/desirable to stop at so many stations in between the major stations.
  2. For CRS, it is important to run trains at regular intervals, not more than 30 Minutes. With long distance trains, this might not be possible given that its schedule is more to do with the whole journey rather than just the piece inside city..
  3. For CRS, trains should be run throughout the day, again not possible with long distance trains.

Rather long list of thoughts

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  • CRS trains should run every 30 minutes and during peak hours every 15 mins. People who travel by cars have to be weaned away and 30 mins waiting time during peak hours will not cut it.
  • Intermodal transfers [House/office - Auto/Bus - Train - Auto/Bus - Office/House], should be made as painless as possible. Different colored autos with fixed published fares to the nearest bus terminus/office complexes. Buses to stop at or near train stations. [E.g try catching a bus after alighting from Hebbal station]
  • Parking facilities at the stations. It can be a challenge in stations inside the city, but outside, it should be fairly easy.
  • Double track for the entire length. If not feasible in certain areas, have sections between stations where trains can wait for crossings. For this the  signalling has to be improved to accomodate shorter blocks. [E.g Currently if a train leaves CRLM, the next crossing that can be done is in Banaswadi - 18 minutes]
  • Long distance trains should stop at all stations in the Greater Bangalore area [especially outskirts]. This will reduce intracity travel to a great deal. The additional 10 mins delay in the overall schedule can be made up in the overall travel time. Long distance trains stopping at edge stations is not feasible as one cannot expect long distance travellers to lug their luggage into CRS trains.
  • Increase fares in current trains. I pay Rs 130 for CRLM - YPR season ticket which is ridiculous. Stopping trains at all stations is an expensive affair. The loco pilot told me once that it takes 35 liters of diesel for one stop/start. 

State Govt should push if it wants to over come the existing Tra

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Sitharam said public transport should aim at providing better access to citizens than easing out mobility issues. The focus of public transport should be on the movement of people and not just movement of vehicles.

To achieve this, a proper transport master plan was the need of the hour, the professor said and added that at least now, the State government should pursue commuter rail very seriously. A public transport can be considered good only when it is accessible, safe, environment-friendly and affordable, he said.



Its BBMP,  Traffic Police,  BMTC  will be under burden along with commuters suffering and  so its GoK Should push this project as rightly told by Prof Sitharam