Karnataka CM Basavaraj Bommai’s high-speed rail link move stumps officials and experts | Bengaluru News

BENGALURU: In the thick of a financial crisis and preparations ahead of the anticipated third wave of Covid-19 infections, chief minister Basavaraj Bommai’s “sudden” announcement that the high-speed rail project (HSRP) proposed in 2008 to link the city centre with the Kempegowda International Airport will be revived has caught his entire government off guard.
Officials from the urban development department (UDD), the infrastructure development department (IDD) and the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation (BMRCL) denied being consulted on the proposal and blamed one another for the revival move.

CMO officials, too, claimed they have no knowledge of how Bommai came up with the idea of reviving the HSRP proposal.
Multiple sources within the government and experts wondered what was the rationale behind reviving the project that was junked as a “waste of resources”. Doubts are being raised over the very requirement of HSRP.
Given that there is already an expressway linking the city to KIA and two other mass transit projects — suburban rail and Namma Metro line — in the pipeline, they say where is the space to accommodate another mode of transport. Besides, there is another grander proposal — a hyperloop link to the airport on the cards. Further, the land earmarked for HSRP has now been taken for Metro alignment and any revival could only entail expenditure to the tune of hundreds of crores of rupees on land acquisition alone. “HSRP was supposed to run along the eastern side of NH-44. In fact, NHAI had earmarked space for HSRP but the same is now being used for Metro’s airport corridor. We doubt whether this project will take off since it was put in cold storage in 2013 to make way for Metro,” said an official.
Raj Kumar Dugar of Citizen 4 Citizen NGO, said HSRP will not be a viable project in terms of cost. “We really don’t need a high-cost rail to the airport when a cheaper suburban rail alternative is already available. Low-speed construction of both HSRP and Metro will further affect traffic on the airport road. It will lead to cutting down of more trees,” he said.
According to E Sreedharan, India’s Metro Man and former DMRC principal adviser, it’s time the government decided on a high-speed rail link from the city centre to the airport with a maximum speed of 160kmph so that journey time will be only about 20 minutes. “Such a project should be a joint venture between the state government and airport operator and can be partly funded through a travel cess on this line,” he said.
Ashish Verma, IISc associate professor (transportation systems engineering), said there should be a thorough study on travel demand and cost-benefit analysis. “The government should not take an ad-hoc decision. Now, we have two mass transport plans — Metro and Suburban to the airport –– ready and the focus should be to complete it on time rather than bringing a new rail,” he said.

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