Bengaluru: Majestic! but not people's station anymore

They are called superfast trains, but for passengers paying higher fares on them, there is little difference in the travel time to Bengaluru, mainly because its city railway station is not big enough to accommodate more trains, delaying clearance for many. This is only one of the many problems dogging Bengaluru's Krantiveera Sangolli Rayanna (KSR) station, which is badly in need of a makeover, Nischith N. reports

While some railway stations in the country are in the process of getting world class facilities, passengers at Bengaluru’s Krantiveera Sangolli Rayanna (KSR) station, popularly known as City Railway Station, continue to put up with poor amenities. Unfortunately, this not only inconveniences them, but also frequently delays them as the station’s 10 platforms are usually congested with 47 trains halting overnight on their tracks.

Although the railways promise faster travel by introducing superfast trains to the city, the lack of space on the tracks at the railway station often delays clearance for them, forcing  passengers to endure the same long travel time they are used to despite paying higher fares.   

A senior South Western Railway official admits that despite the doubling and electrification of the lines between Mysuru and Bengaluru, the travel time between the two cities has not been cut because the platforms at the City Railway Station are often not free to allow the trains in. 

While the solution lies in halting lesser trains at the station, efforts in this direction have failed in the past. A proposal in 2013 to create a shunting yard for trains halting at the city railway station on land occupied by the Binny Mills nearby, was given up because of the huge cost involved.  The project , which was supposed to be completed by 2015, has now been shifted to Hejjala near Kengeri. Alongside it, work is underway on upgrading the Byappanahalli station to allow trains arriving in the city from Mysuru to halt there and take some of  the pressure away from the City Railway Station.

In the process, the trains from Mysuru running upto Whitfield,  Byappanahalli and  Kengeri, could act as suburban trains, allowing Bengalureans to use them for local travel as well. 

“The work on upgrading the Byappanahalli station has already begun  and  acquisition of forest land in Hejjala is underway. So soon several trains that are halting overnight at the City Railway Station, will be  shifted to these stations and others on its outskirts. But they may not be  converted into  suburban trains immediately as this requires a high level decision,” the officer explains.

Too many trains, too few platformsThe doubling and electrification of the railway lines between Bengaluru and Mysuru  with 66 per cent funding from the state government was greeted with much enthusiasm as it was expected to cut  travel time between the two cities.  But unfortunately, for passengers little has changed. Although it takes around two hours to reach Mysuru from Bengaluru on the Shatabdi, other  trains take up to three or four hours. This despite the fact that several on the route have been upgraded from express to superfast of late. “We don’t know why this is happening. Many trains have been upgraded like the Malgudi Express, which is now called the Malgudi Superfast Express and its fare increased from Rs 60 to  Rs 75, but the travel time to the city is still the same. We are confused because we are paying Rs 15  extra but the duration of the journey is no less,”  complains Mr Abhilash R, a regular traveller.  The problem is that there aren’t enough platforms at Bengaluru’s Krantiveera Sangolli Rayanna Bengaluru City Railway Station, which means the trains need to wait at Kengeri or Nayandalli railway stations for clearance, delaying them and inconveniencing passengers, say experts. Mr Yogendra, a railways activist, points out that the congested KSR railway station is not equipped to accommodate a large number of trains. “The KSR railway station needs more platforms. Presently, the trains from Mysuru enter the station only on platforms five to 10,” he notes, suggesting that  they could be halted elsewhere and suburban trains introduced on these lines for passenger comfort. 

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