The stretch between Bengaluru Cantonment – Baiyyappanahalli stations became the first sector in the entire South Western Railway network to get automatic signalling systems. The commissioning was carried out on Sunday evening. Another stretch in the same sector, between Baiyyappanahalli and Whitefield, will also be ready by the end of this month, railway authorities said.
The stations in this section are Bangalore Cantonment, Bangalore East, Baiyyappanahalli, Krishnarajapuram (KR Puram), Hoodi (Halt) and Whitefield.
The automatic signalling system will facilitate faster movement of the current 86 trains, including 26 short distance/suburban trains. In addition, as Bengaluru is set to get a full-fledged suburban railway service in the near future, the system will allow the addition of more trains per block section. This will also mean that long delays for trains approaching or leaving Bengaluru City Railway Station (KSR) will be a thing of the past.
A senior railway official said, “The section from KSR Bengaluru – Baiyyappanahalli – Whitefield is a highly important section. The work of automatic signalling from Bangalore Cant – Baiyyappanahalli will augment the sectional capacity for running trains faster. Currently many trains approaching Bangalore have to wait at the above stations awaiting platform clearance at the main KSR Bengaluru station.”
“Automatic signalling will ease this situation and trains can move in their section between stations one after another, eliminating the need to regulate at stations. It allows for a train to be dealt at every kilometre in the given section,” the official added.
Criticism over delay in project
The automatic signalling project on the entire stretch cost Rs 19.75 crore and the amount was sanctioned in the 2013-14 Railway Budget. A section of mobility experts blamed the authorities for delaying the project.
Sanjeev Dhyamnavar, an urban mobility expert with the non-profit Praja RAAG, said, “They sat on the project for the first two years. It was only due to public pressure that things started moving in 2016. Even in the last RTI that I had filed, they said they will commission it by September 2018. By now, they should have at least sanctioned automatic signalling in sectors between Bengaluru-Mandya, Bengaluru-Tumakuru, Yeshwantpur-Byappanahalli, Yeshwantpur-Yelahanka, but none of it has happened.”
Despite the criticism, the railways maintain that work has been completed on time.
“As far as we are concerned, there is no delay. The work was conceptualised only in 2014. For any work of this kind to be completed, we need minimum two and half years. First we need to make estimates, float tenders and then the agency has to carry out the work after getting clearance. Moreover, the section has a lot of gradient and heavy slopes,” E Vijaya, Deputy General Manager, Public Relations, South Western Railways, said.