Bangalore suburban train fares will be based on the Metro model

BENGALURU: The fare structure of commuter trains that will circulate in the proposed 148 km suburban network will be similar to that of the, according to the Union Budget 2020-21 presented on Saturday.

This essentially means that there will not be a big difference between the prices of the Metro and suburban train tickets in Bangalore, unlike Mumbai and Chennai, where a train journey costs much less than the Metro trips, according to a railway official.

“The Bengaluru suburban transport project of 148 km long, with a cost of Rs 18.6 billion rupees, will have rates in the Metro model. The central government will provide 20% of the capital and facilitate external assistance of up to 60% of the cost of the project, ”announced the finance minister in Parliament.

Budget announcement every year, but little action

The suburban railway project in Bengaluru has not yet materialized and faces repeated delays in planning. However, the cost of the project has already increased by Rs 1,600 crore. In the 2018-19 budget, then finance minister Arun Jaitley mentioned Rs 17,000 crore as the cost of developing a 160 km suburban rail network.

The `` Pink Book '' 2018-19 of Indian Railways, which follows the budget proposal and lists the funds for projects, had mentioned an allocation of only Rs 1 crore for the year in the suburban railway of Bengaluru. In 2019-20 Pink Book, the amount was Rs 10 crore. This year's allocation will be known after the document is submitted to Parliament next week, mainly on February 5.

Transportation experts and those who have been following the project were not impressed by the announcement of the budget, saying that 37 years had passed, but that there had been little progress on the ground.

In July 2019, RITES, a government company, submitted a revised detailed report of the project to the railroads. It included four corridors: KSR Bengaluru City Devanahalli, Byappanahalli-Chikkabanavara, Kengeri-Cantonment-Whitefield and Heelalige-Rajanukunte. The number of suburban stations was reduced to 53 of 82 proposals previously, and the network length was also revised from 161 km to 148 km.

It will run through a special purpose vehicle called Rail Infrastructure Development Companies, or K-RIDE.

In November 2019, the Railways Board approved the project. The final cabinet note must still be processed by the ministry of finance. Once that happens, it will be presented to the Cabinet Economic Affairs Committee.

The network that railway planners have imagined in Bangalore is probably the first modern suburban train system in the country. Its stations will look different from traditional stations, offering more facilities. There will be doors for trips without cash based on smart cards. Fifty-three air-conditioned trains, with double-leaf automatic sliding doors, will be deployed in the first phase.

Railway sources said the minimum fare could be Rs 13 for less than 3 km. In Chennai and Mumbai, a train trip for the same distance currently costs Rs 5. For a 15km trip, the fare will be Rs 35 versus Rs 45 by Metro, an official said.