Bengaluru: Finance minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday announced that an amount of Rs17,000 crore would be spent on the development of a 160-km of suburban railway network for Bengaluru—a much needed boost to country’s over-crowded information technology (IT) capital.
“A suburban network of approximately 160 kilometres at an estimated cost of Rs17,000 crore is being planned to cater to the growth of the Bengaluru metropolis," Jaitley said during his budget speech.
The announcement comes a day after the Karnataka government approved an expenditure of Rs1,745 crore for implementation of the proposed network’s first phase.
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With a population exceeding 10 million, Bengaluru has long sought more investment in developing public transport infrastructure like a Metro rail network. However, governments have also been looking at less capital intensive options like a suburban railway system and increasing the number of buses.
With around 400km of unused railway track around Bengaluru, activists have been calling on the state government to utilise and improve suburban rail networks that would potentially serve more people, and have a greater impact on reducing traffic congestion.
The Metro’s limited connectivity and high project costs will do little to tackle traffic problems of the city, say experts.
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The Karnataka government, after the cabinet meeting on Wednesday, agreed to make an initial equity payment of Rs349 crore for two years from 2018-2020.
The government and the Indian Railways, following an agreement, will each bear 20% of the cost and a special purpose vehicle (SPV) will be formed to raise the remaining funds, T.B. Jayachandra, Karnataka’s law and parliamentary affairs minister said on Wednesday.
The proposal includes 58 trains, each with capacity to carry 1,800-2,000 people and covering a total distance of around 440km.