In a month, Bengaluru will receive two spanking new electric trains to replace conventional trains in the city’s suburban network.
These two trains are part of the 15 trains that the Rail Coach Factory in Kapurthala will deliver to the state in the next one year.
All of them are meant for suburban services around Bengaluru. This was the deal signed between the state government and the ministry of railways in January. The total cost of the conversion is pegged at Rs 327.79 crore, 80 per cent of which will be shared by the state government.
Each of these two trains have eight coaches. “They are expected to arrive by September end,“ said RS Saxena, Divisional Railway Manager, Bengaluru. These electric trains, called mainline electric multiple units (MEMUs), have greater carrying capacity (resulting in better utilisation of line capacity), better fuel efficiency and performance when compared to the outgoing diesel electric multiple unit (DEMU) trains and conventional passenger trains.
The above-mentioned 15 trains operate between Bengaluru and various suburban town such as Bangarpet, Jolarpettai, Mysuru and Hindupur.
“As and when the new rakes arrive, we will deploy them on sections that are seeing good patronage. Two more rakes are expected to arrive by this-year end and the remaining four rakes will be dispatched in 2018,“ Saxena said.
January’s memorandum of understanding also involved upgrading maintenance facilities for the MEMUs at Banasawadi. “The project will be taken up only after approval in the supplementary budget,“ an official statement from the railways said.
Although any project that costs more than Rs 5 crore should be routed through the railway budget for approval, A K Gupta, general manager, SWR, said this would not affect manufacturing of nine rakes as agreed in the pact. “Each year, a certain amount is set aside to manufacture rakes. As the Railway Board has already agreed to allot 15 pairs of trains to Bengaluru, there will be no problem,“ he said.
At present, the SWR operates 94 commuter services in Bengaluru. Of them, 44 are passenger (conventional) trains, 26 are MEMU and 24 are DEMU trains. Urban mobility activist Sanjeev Dyamannavar hoped that the new trains will mean an increase in the number of services to Whitefield.
“As Metro work is being taken up between Baiyappanahalli and Whitefield, a higher frequency of train services would definitely see good patronage,“ he said.