BENGALURU NEEDS TRAINS TO AIRPORT - AND FAST !!
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During 2017-18, Bengaluru's airport saw about 27 million passengers - both arrivals and departures combined - using it, along with about 350,000 Tons of Cargo. These figures are growing. And the airport is one of the TOP TEN FASTEST GROWING AIRPORTS IN THE WORLD. Also, the airport is in expansion mode - which means faster growth in future.
So, what are the means of local travel to and from the Airport in Bengaluru ?
- The first obvious one is the private cars
- next are public cabs and
- then there are BMTC buses.
Any other means ? None, at present. Everything is road-centric, and unfortunately from all over Bengaluru, you need to reach the Airport via what is called the Airport Road (or Devanahalli Road). Depending on where you start from, to reach the airport, one needs to spend an average of over 2 hours (round-the-clock average of 1 hour from Mekhri Circle to round-the-clock average of 3 hours from say Narayana Hrudayalaya). The number of vehicles converging to the airport from all over Bengaluru is obviously huge. All this traffic is adding to the congestion and pollution on the roads. The stress levels faced by commuters and other ill-effects on health are increasing. Productivity is going down. Commute costs are going up.
The situation can be improved by providing efficient alternate major modes of transport to the airport. The options are :
- Increase available road lanes (by further widening, by elevated roads, or by alternate roads). This is not sustainable because it will only lead to increase in dependence on private vehicles and will only shift the problems, at a huge cost.
- Namma Metro - Unfortunately, the snail's pace of work seen until now by BMRCL - which I call BMDCL, on account of consistent Delays - means that an effective Metro service to airport will take at least 5 years from now. No work has started to date on the underground stretch (from Nagavara to Dairy Circle) of the Reach6 Line going to the airport. With only an elevated section from airport to Nagavara, the utility will be limited.
- BMTC Buses - Increasing BMTC Buses to airport can lead to some reduction in vehicular traffic. But BMTC is bleeding - under losses. And there is a limit to which BMTC can make a difference.
- Trains to Airport. This is doable. And quickly too. The rail infrastructure is already there in terms of railway lines from both Yesvantpur (YPR) and Byappanahalli (BYPL) to entrance of the airport near the road to Devanahalli - see the Green Lines in the diagram above. Running trains on these 2 lines - which converge at Yelahanka (YNK) (and proceed to Devanahalli and beyond) specifically for the airport, would lead to drastic reduction in traffic all over Bengaluru - since both these stations are also already having nearby Metro Stations which connect to various parts of Bengaluru. Once these train services stabilise, it will be easy to add further train services which can integrate with Suburban Train System of Bengaluru.
So, what needs to be done ? BIAL should take a lead in implementing this solution. State Government must do its part and Central Government (Railways) must do theirs. If all 3 sit together and take this on a fast track, I firmly believe, we can have trains to airport by mid-2019.
So, my appeal to all Bengalureans and Visitors to Bengaluru is to support my demand for coordinated efforts on the part of the 2 Governments as well as BIAL to make this practical - and quickly too.
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