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April 30, 2009

Bangalore metro plan and BIAL high speed rail link

Bangalore metro plans to link different parts of BLR with a partly underground, partly over the ground rail network. In the process, it has lead to significant removal of greenery. The metro by itself seems to have a simple route, and has been thought out with current congestion patterns. But it has ignored the airport- an important transit point in any major city. Oh well, the powers-that-be (In this case, the KSIIDC) have planned a high-speed rail link (HSRL) for that section. Some key figures for HSRL:

  • HSRL connects M G Road to BIA and traverses Cubbon Road, Chowdaiah Road, Ramana Maharshi Road, Bellary Road and corridor after Hebbal
  • Final cost estimated at Rs 5,767 crore
  • The 34-km rail link will cover distance from city to BIA in 25 minutes
  • HSRL will be integrated with Metro at Minsk Square; with Metro Phase II at Yelahanka and proposed mono-rail at Hebbal

HSRL conveniently forgets a few pertinent aspects (Other blogs: [1][2]):

  • Its nodal point is planned to be MG road, which is already chock-blocked with traffic; even Hebbal is not any better. And if I have to travel to Hebbal from South Bangalore to catch the HSRL, I might as well travel the extra few kilometers to get to Devanhalli.
  • Does an average traveler want to reach BIAL within 23 minutes as compared to 1 hour?
  • Connectivity to metro will be through a 200 meter walkway from the proposed Minsk Square Station. 200 meter walkway; with luggage. Nice. (Article on how HSRL can affect other transport)
  • Cheaper cost of HSRL was initially waved as a plus point. Cost escalations have now made this claim empty. Initial cost of HSRL was estimated at Rs 3,700 crore, revised to Rs 4,313 crore (excluding cost of government/BBMP lands), final completion cost: Rs 5,767 crore.

A travel system has to grow organically, providing for other transit options and allowing for area around the airport to grow steadily. What if they do the HSRL and the area around Devanhalli develops completely, needing more connectivity to the airport along stations between Hebbal and BIAL. HSRL is apparently not designed to have more than 3-4 stations. Would we need to develop another rail link or the metro? Map showing how the transit options could be:

My guess is that this is a mix of both bureaucratic confusion and petty politics; one guy comes along and implements the metro. Another guy needs a pet peeve and implements the HSRL. Both have something to say to their vote bank.

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