Bengaluru, India (Urban Transport News): In a pivotal review meeting on November 27, Union Minister of Railways, Ashwini Vaishnaw, addressed critical aspects of the Bengaluru Suburban Railway Project (BSRP), highlighting both the commitment and challenges associated with this transformative endeavor. Seated at the helm of Karnataka-related railway projects, Vaishnaw, along with key stakeholders, discussed the intricacies of the 149-km BSRP, acknowledging its technical complexity.
The BSRP, encompassing four lines—Sampige, Mallige, Parijata, and Kanaka—is a joint venture between the state government and the railways, managed by the Railway Infrastructure Development Company Karnataka (K-RIDE). Despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi's set deadline of 40 months for completion, Vaishnaw refrained from committing to a specific timeline. Emphasizing the need for focused attention and assuring the project's immunity from political influences, he pledged periodic reviews to ensure steady progress.
Addressing concerns about project delays, Vaishnaw pointed to the project's technical intricacies during the design phase. He asserted that any delays in approvals were solely due to the stringent adherence to the Detailed Project Report (DPR) without compromising on technical standards. Additionally, the minister raised concerns about the technical capabilities within K-RIDE, recognizing a need for improvement.
On a promising note, Vaishnaw assured that foreign funding, a critical aspect of the project, would be secured by the year's end. K-RIDE is actively pursuing an €800 million loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the German investment bank KfW. Responding to queries about the appointment of a full-time managing director for K-RIDE, Vaishnaw indicated his intention to engage with the state government on the matter.
Beyond the BSRP, Vaishnaw shared insights into the broader railway landscape in Karnataka. With projects totaling Rs 47,346 crore, including the construction of new lines and station redevelopment, the state received Rs 7,561 crore in the 2023-24 budget. Notably, out of the 1,300 railway stations being revamped nationwide, 57 are situated in Karnataka. Vaishnaw highlighted the railways' commitment to holistic station redevelopment, extending beyond cosmetic changes.
The Railway Minister underscored the significance of safety measures in railway operations. Automatic signaling, crew working hours, and the modernization of railway yards were identified as key focus areas. Emphasizing the infusion of the latest technology to enhance safety standards, Vaishnaw stressed the importance of disaster management preparedness. He directed the formulation of a fortnightly safety action plan at various levels, subject to regular review.
Ashwini Vaishnaw's reassurance of the railways' unwavering commitment to the Bengaluru Suburban Railway Project, despite its technical challenges, instills confidence in the project's stakeholders. With a keen eye on safety and modernization, the Railway Minister's comprehensive approach signifies a transformative phase for Karnataka's railway infrastructure.