40% increase in budget grants for South Western Railway 

As the Union Budget has given immense thrust in building infrastructure across the sectors, the South Western Railway has got Rs 6,900 crore, including the Karnataka government’s share of Rs 780 crore, to take up its ongoing works related to railway infrastructure as well as passenger amenities. The allocation for the financial year 2022-23 is 40 per cent more compared to that of Rs 4,900 crore in the previous year.

SWR general manager Sanjeev Kishore told reporters, Rs 6,226 was the highest capital expenditure planned so far, to build infrastructure and safety projects, ever since the formation of the railway zone. The Capex planned for the next year was an increase of over 35 per cent compared to Rs 4,600 crore of the last year.

While ongoing line doubling projects have received Rs 1,455 crore in the budgetary grant, electrification of lines and laying of new lines have received Rs 611 crore and Rs 323 respectively. The grants towards the electrification are 24 per cent more compared to Rs 492 crore of the current year. The zone has electrified over 500 kilometres in the current fiscal and is targeted to electrify another 500 kilometres next year.

As the Bengaluru suburban railway project has received a grant of Rs 450 core, Sanjeev said, the concerned staff in the Bengaluru division and zonal headquarter are discussing line-layouts and operational plans. As it was a highly significant project in promoting easy mass transit, the budgetary allocation in FY23 has increased by 50 per cent.

A remarkable increase is seen in the budget sanctioned for road safety. Spending towards track renewals, building bridges and tunnels, and providing passenger amenities will be Rs 1,276 crore, which is a whopping 88 per cent increase compared to last year’s budgetary allocation, the general manager said.

Dharwad-Bengaluru Vande Bharat Express

As priority has been given for connecting to Bengaluru from different directions by doubling the railway line, ongoing work between Hubballi-Bengaluru was targeted to be commissioned by end of this year, said Sanjeev and added by end of this fiscal doubling 75 kilometres would be completed and the remaining 50 kilometres in the next fiscal.

However, the general manager added a rider that if the monsoon gets extended as did this year, the commissioning might be delayed. Once the doubling works are completed, the electrification of lines could be winded up in the next six months. Also, the doubling of the Londa-Miraj section is expected to complete by March next year.

As the Railway budget has proposed to manufacture next-generation Vande Bharat Express trains, the SWR might get a few of them in the coming year. However, the most expected Vande Bharat Express between Dharwad-Bengaluru could be run only after electrification works gets complete on that line, he said and added it could be hoped only after June 2023.