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International airport rail link alignment changed

BS Reporter  |  Chennai/ Bangalore 

With March 28, 2008, set as the day the Bangalore International Airport will commence operations, the Karnataka government has changed the track alignment of the proposed dedicated rail link between the Bangalore International Airport near Devanahalli and B R V Grounds, off M G Road.
The government has proposed to lay a fresh track along the National Highway 7 (Bangalore-Hyderabad section), which connects the city to the new international airport. Earlier, the track alignment was proposed as B R V Grounds "" Cantonment Railway Station "" National Highway 7 point-New International Airport.
The Cantonment-Doddaballapura railway line is just 5 km from the new international airport. All that the government had to do was to lay a new track from B R V Grounds to Cantonment station and the NH 7 point to the new international airport.
According to the state executive committee, headed by Governor Rameshwar Thakur, the new route has been proposed by the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation. However, no proper explanation was given for changing the track alignment.
Sources pointed out that there were conflicting interests among stakeholders.
"We have to implement the project by calling global tenders. The selected firm has to lay fresh railway line next to the existing track, which connects Cantonment railway station to the new international airport. The Indian Railways would have been a major stakeholder in the project. The firm selected for the project could object to such an arrangement. Therefore, the alternative was evolved," the sources said.
The new railway line will start from B R V Grounds (M G Road)-Police Thimmaiah
Circle-Raj Bhavan Road-Sankey Road-Windsor Manor junction-Mehkri Circle-Hebbal flyover. This stretch of the track will be elevated.
From the Hebbal flyover, the track will be laid at the ground level along the NH 7. The entire stretch of the track will be 34 km, from B R V Grounds and the new airport. The travel time is estimated to be 25 minutes.
The project cost is estimated at Rs 3,716 crore. The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, which has been appointed the project consultants, will start the preliminary work in December 2008. The entire work is expected to be complete by January 2011.
The government needs to acquire 29 acres of private land for the project. The cost of land acquisition is estimated to be around Rs 150 crore.
The high speed train will have six coaches. The frequency of each train will be 10 minutes. The train fare has been fixed at Rs 200 per person from B R V Grounds to the new international airport.
The government will set up a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for the project. The SPV will be responsible for freezing the project plan. It will also invite global tenders to build the high speed train link on build-operate-transfer basis. The officials said the tender for the project will be invited next year.
The government plans to include Greater Bangalore City Corporation and Bangalore Development Authority as stakeholders of the project.

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First Published: Mon, December 24 2007. 00:00 IST