Bengaluru is gearing up to revolutionize its transportation infrastructure with the development of a 287-km circular railway, marking a significant stride in India’s rail network. Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw confirmed this groundbreaking project during a press conference held after a comprehensive review of railway initiatives in the city.
The circular railway, designed to meet the city’s transportation needs for the next 40-50 years, is hailed as the “only solution” alongside the Bengaluru Suburban Railway Project (BSRP). With a focus on seamless connectivity, the circular railway aims to integrate the city’s core with surrounding towns through a hub-and-spoke model, similar to the Peripheral Ring Road (PRR).
The circular railway project, long discussed but now officially acknowledged at the highest government levels, is strategically aligned with Bengaluru’s evolving requirements. Minister Vaishnaw emphasized the project’s significance by allocating Rs 7 crore for a feasibility and alignment study. This move, he asserted, positions Bengaluru to have the most extensive circular railway network in India, surpassing even Chennai’s 235.5 km circular railway.
Bengaluru, with its circular railway and the ongoing BSRP spanning 149 km, is poised to outdo Chennai’s existing record. The Southwestern Railway (SWR) envisions the completion of this ambitious circular network within the next five years, contingent on smooth proceedings. The railway network is crucial for addressing the city’s transportation needs, streamlining suburban train services, and facilitating direct routes from Mysuru to destinations like Salem or Tumakuru.
The circular railway aims to establish a hub-and-spoke model, seamlessly integrating the city’s core with seven spokes located approximately 20-25 km away. This model mirrors the functionality of the Peripheral Ring Road, enhancing connectivity and ease of travel. Vaishnaw outlined the proposed route, highlighting key towns like Doddaballapur, Devanahalli, Malur, Heelalige, Hejjala, and Solur, connecting through a Nidavanda-Nidavanda line.
Although the minister did not specify the project’s completion date, SWR sources suggest a potential realization within the next five years. The Construction Organisation of SWR will conduct the feasibility study, with the report expected by September 2024. Following this, a Detailed Project Report (DPR) will likely commence in 2025, spanning at least a year. If all approvals align, the construction of 80-90 km of the circular railway is anticipated annually. Notably, the circular railway will comprise at least two fully electrified tracks.
Despite the enthusiasm surrounding the circular railway, concerns have been raised regarding its integration with the existing BSRP. Prakash Mandoth, president of the Bengaluru Metro and Suburban Passengers’ Association, stressed the necessity of seamless integration to avoid missing links. The association emphasizes the importance of connecting industrial hubs and neighboring towns with the city’s core, urging railway authorities to address these concerns.