The long awaited suburban rail project, which is finally inching closer to reality, will see the link to Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) being given priority.
The Central government, while sanctioning the project, has indicated that suburban rail linking KIA with the city will be prioritised. Rail Infrastructure Development Company (Karnataka) Limited (K–RIDE), the special purpose vehicle implementing the project, will take up the Bengaluru City – Devanahalli Line in the first phase. The proposed alignment also connects Yeshwantpur and Yelahanka before reaching Devanahalli. The length of the line is 41.4 km.
The suburban rail project recently received approval of the Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs, and the document states that the 148-km project, with four corridors, will be completed in six years and Bengaluru City-Devanahalli with airport link has been planned for completion within three years after sanction.
A K-RIDE official said, “We have received sanction for implementing the project. The K-RIDE board will meet and decide on the future course of action. Land assessments and other related works are in progress. The tender is likely to be floated in November.”
The other three corridors of the project are Baiyappanahalli to Chikkabanavara (25 km), Kengeri to Whitefield (35.52 km) and Heelalige to Rajankunte (46.24 km).
Rail activists had demanded that the Bengaluru City to Devanahalli line be taken up on priority. The South Western Railway (SWR) has announced that it will operate train services to KIA using the existing railway line. An MoU has been signed by BIAL and SWR on managing the new halt station that has come up near the airport. The cost of the train ticket from KSR Bengaluru to the airport is likely to be ₹30.
The suburban rail project is expected to cost ₹15,767 crore. The Central and Karnataka governments will bear 20% each, and the rest will be borrowed from banks and multilateral funding agencies. The project requires ₹1,470 crore for land, and ₹4,125 crore for alignment, formation and airport connectivity. The station building has been estimated at ₹1,981 crore. Other major spending includes ₹1,050 crore for traction and power supply, and ₹1,373 for signalling.
“K-RIDE will approach international funding agencies, such as JICA, ADB and EIB, for implementing the project,” an official said.
K-RIDE is also looking for private investments in development stations and running trains. The agency has floated tenders to study land developments and is hopeful of getting private investments for more than 30 stations proposed on the suburban rail alignment.