Port to develop rail infrastructure

V.O. Chidambaranar Port Trust is set to develop its rail infrastructure.

With Hare Island identified as the site for creating a cargo storage facility exclusively for berths (North Cargo Berths II, III and IV), efforts have been stepped up to develop rail connectivity from the existing marshalling yard to Hare Island at an estimated cost of Rs.70 crore, according to S. Natarajan, Chairman of the Port.

The project would involve laying tracks, signals, telecommunications and electrification. Work is expected to commence from November and will be completed by May 2015.

“Currently, around 70 per cent of cargo handled by the port is imported and evacuation is carried out mostly by road. The cargo moved by rail included industrial coal, pet coke, lime stone, MoP, urea and other containerised goods. But the total cargo movement by rail is only 3.5 per cent resulting in heavy congestion in evacuation by road. Hence, there is a necessity to augment railway infrastructure,” Mr. Natarajan said.

He added that a railway track from the Port marshalling yard to the VOC wharf would be modernised at an estimated cost of Rs.16.73 crore.

Work was expected to commence from September and the project would be completed by May 2014.

In addition, a 11.30-kilometre track between Milavittan and the Port marshalling yard will be strengthened at an estimated cost of Rs. 3.34 crore.


First phase of CRS will benefit four lakh passengers daily

Using the City’s existing rail infrastructure, the Commuter Rail Service (CRS) proposal offered suburbs-bound commuters a quick and cheap alternative, an escape from the gridlocked roads.

But, finding no mention in the Railway Budget 2013-14, CRS was destined for the cold storage. Informed experts and concerned citizens now want at least the first phase launched as a pilot skeletal service, with a few modifications to the project as envisaged by infrastructure consultants, Rail India Technical and Economic Solutions (RITES).

First, where the project stands today. The RITES had submitted its final report on the project to the State Directorate of Urban Land Transport (DULT) in August 2012. The BJP government in the State had reportedly cleared the CRS project in March 2013 in a Cabinet meeting and the proposal sent to the Railway Board in Lucknow.

However, the Board could not take a quick decision on the funding. Result: It found no mention in the railway budget.

But the project need not wait another year. Eager to resurrect the eminently workable CRS, Satinder Pal Cho­pra, a seasoned researcher on railways, has suggested a few modifications to kickstart the project’s Phase 1A.

Four lakh to be benefitted

“About three to four lakh passengers will be benefitted by just this initial phase alone,” he told Deccan Herald.

Citing the Railways’ policy of giving operational priority to suburban trains (over long distance Express trains) while framing railway time-tables, Chopra recommends that all trains under CRS should halt at the City and Cantonment railway stations for not more than five minutes. This would ensure that the schedule of other trains is unaffected.

Since Platforms 3, 7 and 9 at the City station are occupied only less than 50 per cent of the day, Chopra says the suburban trains on the Bangalore City-Malur section could berth at Platform 3, the City-Ramanagara section on Platform 7 and the City-Yeshwantpur-Tumkur section on Platform 9. At the Yeshwantpur station, all these trains could stop at Platform 3. This arrangement would require only minor changes in timings / berthing of two to three long distance trains.

Designed this way, the CRS first phase could accommodate 20 suburban services on the City-Malur section, 16 on the City-Ramanagara section, six each on the City-Tumkur, Yeshwantpur-Tumkur and Yeshwantpur-Hosur sections, and two services on the Cantonment-Hosur sector.

The RITES report, however, had sought the construction of two more platforms at the City station, exclusively for commuter trains. Its rationale: The 10 platforms are fully occupied and there is hardly any slot on any platform for handling additional trains.

Suburban trains are operated with Main Electric Multiple Units (MEMU) and Diesel Electric Multiple Units (DEMU). These trains accelerate and decelerate much faster than the normal trains. Currently, the South Western Railways operate six MEMU and 10 DEMU services as passenger trains daily.

In all, the SWR use only one MEMU rake (combination of coaches) and three DEMU rakes. Chopra’s recommendation is to add three more DEMU and four more MEMU rakes to join this fleet, for the first phase of CRS.

The four additional MEMU rakes could be shared between the City-Malur and City-Ramanagara sections. The three DEMU rakes could operate on the Cantonment-Hosur, City- Yeshwantpur-Tumkur, and Yeshwantpur-Hosur sectors.

DH News Service