In Bengaluru, Hoodi to get a proper railway station

After almost two years of agitating, residents of Hoodi who commute to Whitefield daily finally have something to cheer. The unofficial stop at the Satellite Goods Terminal Whitefield (locally called the goods-shed yard station, or the Hoodi stop) will soon be a proper railway station for trains to halt.

What’s spectacular about the development is how the relentless pressure from traffic-weary commuters was finally able to budge the Railways – which has a reputation for being a ‘slow coach’.

In its final stages of development, the Hoodi Railway Station would possibly be inaugurated within a month, according to officials. Residents, however, can’t wait to get started and are looking to have it opened by August 15.

The IT corridor around Whitefield, which nestles a large chunk of technology firms of the city, has been a commuter’s nightmare for a while now. Heavy traffic was made worse by bad roads. In such a case, travelling by train could reduce commute time by half. But without an official stop at Hoodi, techies who were taking the train to Whitefield daily were risking their lives, hoping on and off on to tracks at the goods-shed yard.

In 2014, what started out as a small campaign soon went online and gained momentum. Petitions were shared, WhatsApp groups and Facebook pages were dedicated towards this cause. Commuters’ groups staged protests at railway stations.

Finally, there voice was heard in the right circles. Funds were allocated and the station was announced in the budget. And that’s how it came to be.

The work is almost completed and the railways may announce the opening date. It has even advertised for applications for the post of halt agents. They will be hired on commission for a period of five years and will be responsible for issuing tickets.

Confirming the development, Sanjiv Agarwal, divisional railway manager, Bengaluru, said: “We are planning to inaugurate the station within a month but first I have to consult with PC Mohan, MP, Bengaluru Central, as he funded the project from his MP Local Area Fund.” Only the construction of a ticket counter is awaited, he said.

Mohan too seemed optimistic of inaugurating the station soon. “I had given Rs 1.76 crore from my [local area fund] for the railway station. Additionally, I have pledged another Rs 1 crore for a skywalk. We shall soon announce the inauguration date,” he said.

Residents who were fighting for the cause, however, have been pressing for an August 15 inauguration.

Sanjay V Dyamannavar, a software engineer who had been actively involved in the struggle, still can’t believe it. He says it’s a wonder how an alternative transportation solution could be made possible for less than Rs 2 crore.

Their struggles began in 2014, when the railway decided to shelve the project of providing a halt between KR Puram and Whitefield stations. By that time, many techies were already using the route for commute — alighting at the good-shed yard near Whitefield where the trains stopped briefly. The IT corridor was already gaining notoriety for its traffic snarls and bad roads. Travelling by road had become a nightmare. Soon, the commuters had enough and decided to ask for a halt in this area.

Sreenivas PS recalls: “I would take the passenger train from Byappanahalli railway station to good-shed yard for my daily commute to and from Whitefield. One day, while coming back from work, I saw how frustrated people were with the quality of commute and the hardship they had to go through. Soon people started sending petitions for a halt at Hoodi.”

They had also realised that Metro would take a long time to arrive, but the condition of this corridor’s traffic couldn’t be borne anymore.

Mohan’s offer to fund the station was mentioned by the railway minister in his budget speech. The foundation stone for the station was laid on January 9, 2016. Finally, works at the Hoodi Railway Station are coming to an end.

The Hoodi railway station will benefit around 20,000 people to begin with and the numbers will increase once it becomes an official stop.

Once developed, Hoodi will be an official railway station for trains to stop. For regular commuters to Whitefield, this would mean an economical and faster travel. For example, a train journey to Whitefield from Majestic railway station takes around 45 minutes. The same distance by bus would take one and a half hours to two and a half hours. Cabs would take about the same time, but prove costlier.

A train ticket to Whitefield costs Rs 10. An ordinary BMTC ticket costs Rs 24, Volvo bus ride costs Rs 105. A cab will cost no less than Rs 400, and your own 4-wheeler will guzzle down 3 litres during this commute, says Prakash Mandoth, a former member of the Zonal Users’ Railway Consultative Committee.

Even now, this ‘unofficial stop’ is being used by 13,000 commuters on a daily basis as per the railways and is likely to go up to 45,000 once the sub-urban trains are introduced.

There has been a steady increase in employees especially techies travelling to Whitefield. An estimated 6 lakh people travel to ITPB and nearby places every day. A few trains such as the Bengaluru City-Marikuppam passenger halt at Satellite Goods Terminal Whitefield (SGTWF cabin), which is popularly known as the Hoodi station.

Earlier, the Hoodi halt station was to come up near the Hoodi flyover that connects KR Puram and Whitefield. However, as the location was not feasible for platforms, it was moved 500 metres away. The change in the location and the delay in taking up works escalated the cost to Rs 1.76 crore.

Credits Bangalore Mirror

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