Citizens bat for new train to Whitefield, to ease traffic congestion

This is the beeline of vehicles on Varthur Main Road near Kundalahalli Gate. Trains have the capacity to take some part of this traffic off the road. Pic: Shree D N

Vaidyanathan Narayanan works in a company in Whitefield. He takes the 9.05 am Namma Metro service from Ulsoor and reaches Byappanahalli Metro station at 9.14 am. Then he quickly moves towards the Baiyappanahalli Railway Station via the newly built footbridge, and reaches the station at 9.17 am. He waits for the Arakkonam train that comes in between 9.20 am to 9.30 am.

He reaches the informal train stop behind Prestige Shantiniketan apartment at around 9.40 am – 9.45 am. From there he takes a shared auto to his office. He starts back home from his office by 5.40 pm, catches the 5.57 pm train and reaches Baiyappanahalli between 6.15 pm and 6.20 pm, gets into 6.30 Metro and reaches home maximum by 6.45 pm. Every minute counts in his journey, and is spent fruitfully.

Every day, an estimated three lakh people — yes, THREE LAKH people, working in IT, travel to Whitefield, from other areas of Bangalore, according to Whitefield Export Promotion Park Industrial Association (WEPPIA). Add to this those working in Textiles and other segments, the number is really huge.

Traffic situation here is already bad, and is only going to worsen. The digging for the Metro Phase II and signal-free flyover at Kundanahalli gate is scheduled to start in January 2015. The very thought of dug roads and traffic raises the blood pressure of the citizens here.

Earlier in 2012, WEPPIA had requested BMRCL to take the Metro underground so that the burden of land acquisition and traffic mess can be eliminated, but the BMRCL rejected the proposal. When there is no solution in sight, there is still one hope left: Railways.

‘When road does not work, use railways’

Narayan and many like-minded people have come up with a plan to improve the situation. The plan is simple: Make use of existing, unused infrastructure. That is, make use of Railways.

The Train Users Group bound for Whitefield Area – Bangalore is a movement that is campaigning hard for more trains in the area. The group has even managed to rope in WEPPIA and are in talks with Whitefield Area Commerce and Industrial Association (WACIA), to garner more support.

Mainline Electric Multiple Unit (MEMU) train has been sanctioned between Ramanagaram and Bangalore City, and will start services from December 3rd 2014, according to Railway Minister Sadananda Gowda. The group is focusing now on the extension of this proposed new train from Ramanagara to Majestic till Whitefield.

The citizens’ group feels time is just ripe to push for this service. This is because, electrification has been completed on Ramanagaram and Majestic Railway line. Bangalore City – Whitefield line is already electrified, hence the entire stretch is electrified now. The group is also proposing many other simple improvements that can help divert good amount of traffic away from roads.


Whitefield railway station.

‘Introduce new suburban trains’

The group of citizens is also asking the Indian Railways to start new trains between Whitefield and other Railway stations of Bangalore, and align the timings of trains during peak hours so that the Ramanagaram to Whitefield belt is covered. A letter to Railways by the group requests to:

  1. Introduce MEMU Train services between Bangalore City / Yeshwanthpur / Yelahanka and Whitefield, in both directions during peak hours (timings and windows to be determined by the Railways)
  2. Extend MEMU trains bound to Bangalore Cantonment (BNC) and Bangalore City station (SBC) until Kengeri
  3. Build a functional platform at the Hoody (Behind Shantiniketan) railway track stop. (This is about 1 KM from ITPL)

The letter also explains the logic behind the demand:

“Each commuter spends average 4 – 5 hours a day on commute to office and back which is a significant loss in productivity and cost. We believe that the train travel will reduce this travel time significantly with greater predictability… The requested train travel will give us some respite from longer journey times.

From the data sheet in the table below – we are quite convinced that providing few MEMU trains between these sections during the peak hours (timings and windows to be determined by the Railways) will go a long way to ease the traffic situation in the Whitefield area during office-going area and potentially entire Bangalore East.”

“We understand that apart from IT folks, teachers, government employees, and different laborers like textile industry and others are the bulk of the train users. From very conservative guestimates there are lakhs of people using various modes of transport across this belt.”

5,000 buses ferry people to Whitefield every day!

The table prepared by the group, with data collected from multiple sources, estimates that there are 5,000 buses that ply in the area that ferry over 1 lakh people. The Metro road-widening and construction work has the capacity to jeopardise the life of all these people.

Estimation of traffic

 

Mode of transport

Trips / day

Passenger

Remarks

1

Contracted bus trips per day for Whitefield area (Both private and BMTC to ITPL)

5000 Trips/Day

Average 20 per bus trip

Total = 5000*25 = 1.25 L per day

25 person per bus trip

2

Pubic BMTC bus trip to Whitefield area

2000 Trip Average /Day

2000*50 = 1 lakh per day

50 persons coming to Whitefield area per bus trip

3

Current Train Users (Arakkonam Passenger and Bangarpet Passenger 66530 (Push Pull)

Minimum 1000 persons per train per day per trip including women passengers

2000 persons per day

This can potentially grow 10 to 20 times if a facility is provided

4

Own vehicle (2 and 4 wheeler) to ITPL only

25000 vehicles

25000 – assumes one person per vehicle

 

5

Lorry/Trucks,Train for textile workers in Whitefield area (behind Graphite India) stretching till Mahadevapura

Don’t know

1 Lakh + labour force

Many come to KR Puram via train and walk.

Already thousands of employees are using the trains, though there are only two trains—one in the morning and another in the evening, from Prestige Shantiniketan (SGWF) to Bangalore City (SBC). There are employees in EPIP zone who come from Kengeri daily catching the Chamundi express at Jnanabharathi and interchange at SBC to catch the MEMU train to Shantiniketan (SGWF).

Last mile connectivity from the Shantiniketan Stop already exists. Five-seater shared auto services take people to TCS, Vaidehi, L&T Infotech etc, and towards Hope Farm SJR Tech Park.

‘Whitefield residents not interested yet’

Sanjeev Dyamannavar, a commuter rail advocate who is supporting the initiative, says that the residents of Whitefield have not understood how suburban railways can benefit them. He puts forward four benefits for Whitefield residents:

  1. Relief for vehicles in Whitefield: Most of the vehicles plying through Whitefield now are from other areas. A techie working in Whitefield but living in another part of the town, such as Mysore Road or Yeshwanthpur will take his own vehicle to travel to Whitefield, as it is faster than any other mode of transport.
    However, an efficient and fast public transport can catch his attention and make him take the public transport, to reduce the burden of driving and reach the destination faster. Same is true for many other stations that are in between, which will be used by people if there are trains at regular intervals. As a result, vehicular traffic on road will reduce, to benefit the residents of Whitefield.
  2. Reduction in bus traffic: People travelling to Whitefield from outskirts and the city centre via buses will shift to trains if they find that trains are faster, cost-effective and efficient. This in turn will reduce the stress on the roads incrementally. Instead of spending two to three hours on buses, people will find it easy to travel through train.
  3. Better connectivity to Whitefield: The students from Whitefield who are / will be studying engineering or other courses in the city centre or peripheral areas of Bengaluru can easily travel through trains. The support system that serves Whitefield residents, such as house maids, housekeeping and maintenance staff, security and others can travel via trains to Whitefield. As there will be minimal loss of time in the travel, connectivity will increase and the results will be dramatic.
  4. Whitefield residents are rarely seen in the centre of the Bengaluru city, due to the enormous traffic and the time required to travel. Railways will make their life easy and increase their mobility. They can travel to the city centre often, for shopping, travelling to other cities and so on.

Railway station facility required

Sanjeev Dyamannavar suggests that the ad hoc station behind Prestige Shantiniketan can be improved, by providing a functional platform and a foot over-bridge. This station is already being used by many passengers, who travel into the ITPL area from here through shared autos or other local transport. There are some basic facilities already in place, and the entire station can cost around Rs 1 crore. This will benefit everybody and attract more passengers towards trains.

WEPPIA has also written to BBMP and BMRCL offering suggestions to reduce impact of the road digging for Metro Phase II. The letter urges the BBMP and BMRCL to not start the road digging for the Metro Phase II till the provision for Railways is made via MEMU trains.

Citizens along with WEPPIA, WACIA and textiles association have submitted a letter to Deputy Railway Manager, South Western Railways, Bangalore and Additional Deputy Railway Manager, South Western Railways, Hubli. They also met Railway Minister D V Sadananda Gowda.

“He introduced us to Deputy Regional Manager, Railway. The Minister was positive and we are hopeful. He has advised the officials to look at the proposal and come out with a viable plan”, says Narayanan. It remains to be seen whether the Railways, BBMP and BMRCL will heed to the requests of the people.

Editor: The post has been edited to remove incorrect statements.

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Shree D N
About Shree D N 74 Articles
Shree D N is an associate editor with Citizen Matters.

6 Comments

  1. I heard of making our neighbor city tumakuru as smart city which is about 70km from bengaluru. There are many people who travels daily from tumakuru to few industrial hubs of bengaluru like peenya, Whitefield and adugodi. Hope If a good transport connectivity like trains exists in between tumkur till white filed, most of the people will shift to tumakuru. This will reduce the burden on our bengaluru.

  2. Great initiative. Last one month i am using Metro+train option to reach Whitefield from Jalahalli cross. Really it will reduce half of the traffic in the road if Railway can increase the frequency of the train in working hours. Need to create more awareness about railway options as most of the bangaloriens don’t know about it.

  3. It is beyond belief the type of mess that traffic is in whitefield/ITPL. Waiting for a project which has taken years just to start is meaningless. These suburban trains should be started as soon as possible to bring relief. Lakhs of people wasting few hours daily is big waste of resources…

  4. Need more railway stations between Hejalla and Bidadi for this to be a long term success. Two sets of trains from Ramanagara to Chikkbanavara and Ramanaraga to Bangarpet will solve problems. It is just a matter of constructing stations at Nice Road Junction, Kumbalgodu Industrial Estate, Hampapura, Binnypet, HMT and Jalahalli West.

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