The growth of cities post-globalisation has been accompanied by a rise in the number of Multi-National Companies and increasing job markets complemented by a greater influx of people from various states and union territories in search of better job opportunities and quality of life. But with benefits, there are cons to the ever-growing opportunities and migration of people with the shrinking of spaces and unprecedented growth of vehicular traffic resulting in longer commute time and decreased productivity at workplaces. The need for a complete overhaul of the available public transport network in metropolitan cities has been a long-pending issue with state budgets failing to emphasise the dilapidated public transport arrangement prompting the citizens to explore alternative options such as the metro and suburban railways which are fast emerging across Indian cities beyond the metropolitan and cosmopolitan regions of economic activity.
The suburban railways, is a long drawn campaign in cities like Bengaluru, which have been time and again overlooked from a more populist view and continue to battle the growing constraints in public transport options while the government continues to push forth the development of metro on a war-footing basis and unveils the ambitious suburban railway network plan, which has been a long drawn process despite minimal expenses given the fact that it can be operated on the same infrastructure as other trans currently operating on the network. What perhaps might cause jittery is who to prioritise and the very landscape of the railway network in some cities, which were not expecting to witness the cry for suburban railway network perhaps playing a spoilsport to the grand expansion plans. The need for suburban railways also calls for greater cooperation between the state and the central government with due disregards for the differences.
So Why is the Metro Expanding so Slow?
The successful tryst with the start of Delhi Metro in 2002 laid all apprehensions which emerged out of people’s experiences with the construction of Kolkata Metro paving way for the growth of the metro in cities beyond the metropolitan such as Kanpur, Patna, Jaipur, Kochi. Yet, despite its success, the metro has been slow enough to develop in the past decades that India has been witnessing a massive transition in the commuting style of its population and the metro gaining a firm foothold. One of the reasons being high – construction costs based on the type of metro system followed by different cities in terms of the power infrastructure. Track type (some metro systems have completely underground metro systems, while some comprise both elevated and underground railway systems, thus variation in costs, with the construction of tracks ranging between Rs. 100 – 200 crores a kilometre.
Another issue that exists in the case of the metro is the possibility of last-mile connectivity, which means a further reduction of time while commuting from station to office or home, which seems lacking in the case of Bangalore Metro or Namma Metro as it is known by the Bengalureans. This crisis is further escalated in the Bengaluru scenario, with inadequate feeder bus services and people having to look at autos as an option, thus adding to their travel expenses, given that there is no single access system developed when it comes to seamless switchover in case of cabs and autos and single card system proposed for the seamless switchover from the metro to bus still awaiting approval is what reduces the effectiveness of metro. Given some shortcomings in terms of cost escalation resulting in fall of demand for a metro in the case of Delhi and the need for point-to-point connection in the case of Bengaluru, with due consent of both parties – The state and the railways over technical domains would help in completion of metro within the estimated time and budget along with cooperation from citizens with periodic consultations, which would help in promoting transparency and credibility of projects.
The Way Ahead
With the growing opportunities in metropolitan cities resulting in a massive migration of people, there has been growing strain on the current public transport facilities and greater saturation resulting in traffic snarls and growing emissions. The suburban railway is a growing necessity and so is the metro rail to help distribute a load of passenger traffic. The idea of a metro, however, should not merely confine itself to the conventional definitions and ideas of a suburban railway system. It should also take into consideration the MRTS, EMU, MEMU train services into consideration when interpreting the expansion of metro to bring into the sphere even the tier 2 cities, which might find it difficult to afford a metro system given the growing road traffic in Tier 1 and 2 cities and facilitate travel between two cities with journeys ranging between 1 and 2 hours, thus greatly bringing relief to passengers who have to be dependent on the buses in such cases, one such example being between Bangalore and Hosur being one such cue. Suburban and metro railway, therefore, is a necessity and not a luxury in today’s fast-moving development spanning across regions.
Chitresh Shrivastva - firstname.lastname@example.org