This new railway line will help decongest Old Madras Road

Tirupathi, located on the foot hills of Eastern Ghats, is in Andhra Pradesh State. It is the most popular pilgrimage centre in South India. About 20 million devotees visit Tirupathi in a year ie; about 37,500 pilgrims per day, out of which about 15,000 ie; about 30% are from Bengaluru side. The number of pilgrims was about 23 lakh during May 2015. But how well-connected is Tirupathi from Bengaluru? Is there a provision for improvisation?

Existing connectivity :

a) By road:

The distance between Bengaluru and Tirupathi is 250 km by road. The existing connectivity is mainly by road. The journey by bus/ four wheelers  takes about 5 hours 30 minutes. Heavy road traffic exists between Bengaluru and Chittoor, as both Chennai traffic as well as Tirupathi traffic move along this common portion of Old Madras Road (National Highway No 4).

Around 43 Karnataka Road Transport Corporation( KSRTC) buses operate from Bengaluru to Tirupathi. In addition to this, buses from places to the west and south of Bengaluru also move along the Old Madras Road. In addition, many tourist buses ferry passengers to Tirupathi. S R S Travel buses operate 15 buses per day from Bengaluru to Tirupathi. Most of the people having four wheelers use this road to Tirupathi and towards Chennai. Many tourists use taxis to Tirupathi and back from Bengaluru.

b) By railway:

Existing train connectivity is not convenient. It is a circuitous route. The number of passenger trains between  Mysore-Bengaloru-Tirupathi is 28 per day i.e. 14 trains from Yeshwanthpur and 14 from Bangalore City Station.

The route is as follows:

Bangalore-Bangarpet 58 km
Bangarpet-Jolarpet 65 km
Jolarpet-Katpadi 80 km
Katpadi-Pakala via Chittoor 46 km
Pakala-Tirupathi 37 km
Total: 286 km

The Inter-City weekly train service introduced from January 25th 2011 takes 6 hours 10 minutes from Bengaluru to Tirupathi.  

c) Air connectivity

There is a direct flight from Bengaluru to Tirupathi. But the problem is the long distance of the Kempe Gowda International Airport from the City. The journey time to the Airport is one and a half to two hours each way.

Suggested direct railway link

The study is to examine whether it is possible to propose a direct railway link from Bangarpet to Chittoor  to reduce the heavy road traffic between Bengaluru to Chittoor. The route suggested is to avoid the round about railway route from Bangarpet to Pakala via Jolarpet and Katpadi. This route is only about  215 km as against the present distance of 286 km.

The proposed route is as follows:

Bangalore-Bangarpet 58 km
Bangarpet-Pakala 120 km
Pakala-Tirupathi 37 km
Total: 215 km

Proposed train route. Design: A S Kodandapani

The distance reduced is about 71 km. A new line 120 km long is to be formed for direct link from  Bangarpet to Pakala. The journey time will be about 4 hours 20 minutes as against 6 hours 10 minutes. It is possible to reduce the journey time by one hour 50 minutes or about 2 hours which attract pilgrims to use the railway mode instead of the tedious and risky road journey. Fast and convenient trains with short frequency may have to be organised. It is possible to attract 50% of the road users who travel by road at present.

Merits of this proposal

  • Safer and comfortable journey for tourists.
  • Relief from traffic congestion on Old Madras Road which will help commuters of Bengaluru.
  • Reduction in consumption of petrol and diesel.
  • Reduction in vehicular pollution.
  • Savings in tour expenses.
  • Provides better connectivity between other urban areas on the west of Bengaluru,  and 
  • Possibility of development of urban areas between Bengaluru  and Tirupathi.

The suggestions are based on cadastral maps showing the existing physical features, and railway map. The alignment proposed may be suitably modified according to standards and techniques.

Feasibility report may be prepared by the Railway engineers. The project may be implemented as a railway project or on BOOT basis, if permissible, according to policies of the Railways.

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  1. Clarifications to Sri. Srinivas Raghavan Kandala on my article:

    It is true that train timings at present using the longer railway route is not convenient for pilgrims to Tirupathi and back. It is also true that many people use their own private transport to suit their timings.

    The shorter railway route to Tirupathi is may be implemented and trains are run on the new route by fixing frequency of trains of about 30 minutes. Reducing the journey time by two hours, and as the railway journey is less risky than the road journey, pilgrims will definitely switch over to railway journey which is comfortable. This will also enable de- congestion of Old Madras Road by 50%.

    Thanking you.

    -Dr. A. S. Kodanda Pani
    Urban Planner & Civic Analyst

  2. Excellent idea and it also offer faster train connection to Chennai. Current route goes down from Bangarpet to Jolarpet and comes back up. People talk about high speed trains to reduce the travel time. This is a way to reduce travel time with existing trains. Time to Chennai on Shatabdi is about 5 hours+ now and it can go down to 4 hours+ with this.

  3. I am a regular commuter to my native place, Tirupathi. In my opinion, people opting for buses or using their own private transport is not due to the longer route that the train takes, but it is due to the timings and availability of the tickets. As stated in the article, there are 28 trains that connect these two places, but how many are at a convenient time that one can take on a Friday evening and on a sunday evening for the return journey ? The Chamarajnagar – Tirupathi passenger train is the only one that starts in the evening from both the directions, but the reserved sleeper compartment is just like an unreserved one. All other trains pass through Tirupathi and getting tickets in them is impossible unless it is mid of the week. What would help even with the current train route is a Mysore – Bangalore – Tirupathi express train and it can be a Bi-weekly or Tri-weekly with service from mysore on friday and service from Tirupathi on Sunday.
    Mysore (7PM) – Bangalore (10PM) – Tirupathi (6AM)
    Tirupathi (9PM) – Bangalore (5AM) – Mysore (8AM)

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