The CW team recently met Mahendra Jain, Additional Chief Secretary, Urban Development Department, Government of Karnataka, and Managing Director, Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation, at the Smart Urbanation Summit held in Hyderabad, organised by Smart Cities Council India. In an exclusive interview with SHRIYAL SETHUMADHAVAN and RAHUL KAMAT, Jain talks about the progress of Bangalore Metro Phase-2 and system integration. Excerpts:
How has the Bengaluru Metro project been progressing?
It is progressing well. Currently, we are operating two lines - North-South and East-West - that span over 42.8 km with a ridership of over 400,000 commuters every day. Considering demand from other areas, we are working on increasing our lines for different locations.
We plan to connect places like the Electronic City and Whitefield areas by the metro network. Meanwhile, we have planned for four lines that will decongest the outer ring road areas.
How is the progress on Phase-2?
For Phase-2, we have received investment intention from many private players for quick implementation. We are also advancing our decision process on the airport connectivity line, which will now be part of Phase-2. In total, a 105-km network has been planned in Phase-2 over the existing 42 km. We have commenced working on the detailed project report (DPR) for this phase. We are hoping that by 2025, we will have a metro network that is close to 250 km in Bengaluru. We want to complete Phase-2 in 2021. This phase will cost us around Rs 265 billion. Work is going on in full swing and we hope to achieve the timelines.
How is Bengaluru Metro ensuring the alignment of current infrastructure with other modes of transportation in the city for last-mile connectivity?
We have planned connectivity integration in a systematic manner. Under our multimodal logistics integration plan, we have connected the metro network to intercity railway stations, city and state transportation managed by Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation and Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation, respectively. Here, we have provided walkways, subways, travellators and so on, so that commuters can move easily from one mode of transport to the other - it would be seamless mobility. So, that is on the physical integration side. We are also working on fare integration between BMTC, BMRC and suburban railways. Here, a single fare card can be used to make payments for all modes of transport. Further, we are working on information integration that includes sharing of time tables and mapping the networks. Put together, every piece of information regarding metro operation will be available on a single platform for commuters for better access. Through this, commuters can use various means of transport in an efficient manner.
What challenges have you faced so far in carrying out a project of this scale?
The project has faced many challenges. At present, we are operating 51 trains, carrying 4 lakh commuters every day. During peak hours, the trains get overcrowded; hence, we have decided to increase the capacity from the current three-coach trains to six-coach trains. As there is demand from all parts of the city, we are planning to extend our network. This means there are a lot of contract management issues, land acquisition problems and construction and time management challenges for us to face. As we have a huge workforce, we have human resource challenges too.