In a major boost to commuters in Bengaluru, the Kempegowda International Airport halt station (KIAH) will be launched next week.
Confirming the development, officials of South Western Railway (SWR) said trains operating from the city to the new station will roll out shortly. It is hoped that the new station and proposed suburban trains will go a long way towards closing the gap in last-mile connectivity to Bengaluru airport.
Ashok Kumar Verma, divisional manager, Bengaluru, SWR, said the official notification enabling transportation to the new railway halt is expected to be out within a week. “A list of trains that are to ply to Devanahalli and Kolar has been submitted to the railway board. We are awaiting the final nod which should come anytime soon,” Verma said.
Located on the outskirts, in Devanahalli, the KIA is more than 35 kilometres away from the city’s Central Business District.
Travelling by a bus or cab in peak traffic hours takes over an hour and commuters have to shell out anywhere between Rs 250 and Rs 1000, on an average daily for a one-way ride to the airport.
Once trains start plying to the new station, tickets are likely to be priced around Rs 30 for the same journey.
What’s more, the travel time, which is often the casualty in a city notorious for snarls, would be reduced to 75 minutes.
The new landmark is tipped to help over 25,000 people, mostly fliers and airport employees. As per the proposal put forward by SWR, six trains would ply to KIAH, including two from Majestic (KSR Bengaluru) and one from Yelahanka.
Citing the proposal made to the railway board, an SWR official said, “Trains to KIAH will roll out in the wee hours and return services will be scheduled during late evening. A service each in the opposite direction would also be launched for the benefit of passengers travelling to and from the airport.”
Speaking to indianexpress.com, urban transport expert Sanjeev Dyamannavar said the launch of train service to the new halt station, coupled with additional connectivity provided by Namma Metro and proposed shuttle services between the railway halt and the airport by BIAL (Bengaluru International Airport Limited) would go a long way to solving last-mile connectivity issues.
“The railway line on this route has been in existence for over a decade but the absence of a halt station was the major roadblock to commuting,” he said, adding that with more proposed suburban trains would help commuters if allowed to brake at the halt.
He said, “While the new station would cater only to nearly half of the population which travels to the airport from select areas of the city (except those in Whitefield, Electronic City and surroundings), passengers who don’t mind spending some extra minutes on commute could pick trains from other points if it means shelling out much less money, in comparison to road travel.”
Eashwar Amarnath, a fitness trainer and a frequent flier, said, “Taking the rail route to the airport always makes better sense as the only other alternative is to travel through the city’s choke points. I don’t mind spending more time travelling by train, on the suburban routes, as it would mean a less polluted commute, more sitting space and fares that are a lot easier on my pocket.”
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The new halt station was to be commissioned in December 2019 but the dates were pushed back to February, and later, to April, due to labour shortage in the wake of the Covid-induced lockdown. Though delayed by eight months, the new halt station is worth the wait for commuters. The total project cost has been pegged at Rs 3 crore. BIAL, the agency tasked with implementing the project, brought up the facility on a plot between Dodajala and Devanahalli stations, allocated by SWR.
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