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Sunday, September 26, 2021

Plans on to build high-speed rail link between Bengaluru city and airport: Basavaraj Bommai

Sources in the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited and the urban development department, however, said that they were not aware of any such plan to revive the proposed project.

Written by Darshan Devaiah BP | Bengaluru |
Updated: August 31, 2021 7:33:32 am
Basavaraj BommaiKarnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai. (Express Photo)

Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai has said that plans are on to build a high-speed rail link between Bengaluru city and Kempegowda International Airport (KIA).

“We have plans to connect Bengaluru airport with the city centre with a high-speed train. KIA will become a unique airport, connected by three railway lines with the Metro, and the suburban and the high-speed train,” he said on Sunday after inaugurating the new 7.5 km-long Western Extension Line under Phase-2 of Namma Metro from Mysore Road Metro Station to Kengeri Metro Stations. Union Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri was also present on the occasion.

The plan for the high-speed rail link was originally proposed in 2001-02, during the tenure of the S M Krishna-led Congress government. Later in 2008, the state government had considered introducing a high-speed rail link between MG Road in the Central Business District(CBD) and the airport at a  proposed cost  Rs 6689 crore. The proposed 37km high-speed rail link (HSRL) project was to reduce the commute time to the airport to around 20 minutes.

In 2013, the proposal again came up right after the then CM Siddaramaiah had taken an eight-minute, 50km high-speed train ride from Shanghai Central to the Pudong International Airport during his visit to China. But the proposed plan did not proceed due to the high costs involved and land acquisition issues.

Meanwhile, after Bommai spoke about the plan on Sunday, sources in the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) and the urban development department told the were not aware of any such plan to revive the proposed project.

In his speech, Bommai had said, “The project consists of metro, suburban rail as well as high-speed train connectivity. That’s our dream. No international airport has got all three (modes of connectivity). We are going to do it. I have begun all the necessary preparations.”

The BMRCL is expected to finalise in October the tender for the KR Puram-KIA Metro corridor, which will connect the city with the airport. Meanwhile, the suburban railway’s Bengaluru City-Yelahanka-Devanahalli corridor, which got the Union Cabinet nod last year, will be taken up only in the next phase.

In September last year, Virgin Hyperloop and Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) had signed a memorandum of understanding to conduct a feasibility study for a proposed hyperloop corridor from Kempegowda International Airport to Bengaluru city.

According to a statement released by Virgin Hyperloop at that time, such a project, if implemented, could reduce the travel time between the airport and city centre to 10 minutes.

For the high-speed rail project, five consortiums had been shortlisted in 2011. But after taking into consideration the high costs involved, the plan had to be shelved in favour of the Metro Phase-II project.

The high-speed rail link project was to be implemented in a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) mode by the Government of India and the Karnataka government with funding from the Japan Bank for International Co-operation and the private consortia. It had received much of its impetus between 2006 and 2011 before it was virtually abandoned.

Later, the government asked BMRCL to develop a metro line to the airport, which will be constructed under the 37km Namma Metro Phase 2B project — this will connect Bengaluru city with the airport and have 17 stations on the route.

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