Cost concerns over Bengaluru suburban rail’s expansion plan

As Karnataka gears up to launch civil works of the longdelayed Bengaluru suburban rail project in October, its plan to expand it into five adjoining districts and neighbouring Tamil Nadu has raised the concerns of finance department.

As per Comprehensive Mobility Plan, the project is to benefit districts of Ramanagara (Ramanagara town), Chikkaballapura (Chikkaballapur town), Tumakuru (Tumakuru city), Bengaluru Rural (Doddaballapur) and Kolar (Bangarpet). It’s likely to be extended to industrial town Hosur. CMP had suggested suburban rail be extended from 149km to 314 km.

At a review of the project, the extension plan reportedly received a positive response from the CM but the finance department raised concerns over additional expenditure of Rs 7,100 crore. The project is currently pegged at Rs 15,767 crore. The infrastructure development department reportedly said additional costs will be over a period of 5-6 years since the project will start from Bengaluru on the existing Indian Railways infrastructure.

Government officials said the extension plan is based on actual ticketing by Indian Railways to and from the adjoining districts. “For instance, as per our data, some 70,000 people travel to and from Bangarpet on trains. A dedicated suburban line would ease the burden on the railways,” said a government official privy to the meeting. Further, any extension of the line will effectively bring in more revenue to the government with development activities between Bengaluru and the six locations likely to see a boom.

Sources said the government may request railways to look into the proposal of extending the line to Hosur as it involves interstate construction and nod. Additional chief secretary (infrastructure development) Kapil Mohan said the government will initiate talks with railways on the revised plan.