Passenger trains continue to remain a dream for the Hosapete-Kotturu line
The Hosapete-Kotturu line has not had a passenger train in operation for 22 years. The demand has intensified after the inauguration of the Bidar-Kalaburagi line in October 2017.
High-tension overhead wires near Gunda Road Junction
Bangalore, November 22, 2017: Slow progress made in Ballari’s Hosapete-Kotturu railway line has disappointed residents of the region.
After the inauguration of the Bidar-Kalaburagi line in October 2017 which was pending for 16 years, the demand to speed up work on the Hosapete-Kotturu line has intensified.
The passenger train running between Hosapete and Kotturu was terminated in 1995, after the then Railway Minister of India, C.K. Jaffer Sharief laid the foundation stone for the gauge conversion of the line.
Mr.Deepak Ulli, a resident of Hosapete said, “This process of gauge conversion was completed in 1999 itself. However, Railway officials did not give the permission to run passenger trains on this line because of a lot of problems.”
Mr. Ulli adds, “The problem of gradients was resolved in August 2016. However, the biggest challenge is that of lifting the high tension wires that run across the track. The South Western Railways (SWR) has invited tenders to lift these wires and work is going on.”
The problem of gradients has to do with the uneven alignment of tracks which can potentially result in the derailment of the train while lifting of high tension wires refers to high voltage overhead wires which are hanging close to the ground.
Mr. Y. Yamunesh, President of the Vijayanagar Rail Development Action Committee, Hosapete said, “The then Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee announced a passenger train between Hosapete and Harihar in 2010-2011.
Only in February 2014, the then Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge announced a passenger train but from Kotturu to Harihar only. It was not extended to Hosapete because the line between Kotturu and Hosapete was not deemed safe for passenger traffic.”
He adds, “The South Western Railway in Hubli had responded to a letter addressed by us under the Right to Information (RTI) act in 2015 by stating that passenger trains will begin running on the line from June 2015.”
Goods trains have been running on the route since 2016. Arun Kumar Jain, Manager, South Western Railway, Hubbali in May 2016 mentioned that passenger trains will begin running shortly. E.R.Vijaya, Chief Public Relations Officer, South Western Railways said, "The Kotturu-Hosapete line has been made ready. Major regrading works near Vyasankeri, etc have been completed. Shifting of EHT power line crossings at 10 locations is in progress. Work is expected to be completed by February 2018. Papers will be processed for sanction by the Commissioner of Railways-Safety."
Mr. Ulli said, “The Hosapete-Kotturu line has been shut for 22 years now. If the railway line begins operations it will be an important link between the backward districts of the Hyderabad-Karnataka region to central and coastal Karnataka. It will be easier for students to travel to Davangere for better education. The Government hospital in Ballari is not well equipped. The line will make it easy for those who are in need of medical attention to travel to Davangere or Shivamogga.”
Residents believe that once the line is open to the public, tourism will boom in the region with better connectivity to places like Hampi, Belur, Sravana Belagola, etc.
The one community that will also benefit a lot will be the farmers.
Mr. Yamunesh said, “Maize is Ballari’s main crop. The maize grown here is sent to the harbor in Calcutta. If the farmers have to transport the maize grown by road, they end up spending Rs. 30-40 per quintal on an average. Once this line starts, farmers can send a quintal of maize at Rs.5.” He also adds that the line will be a great help for the poor and the middle class of the region. He said, “Right now, we end up spending Rs. 500-600 in a seater bus and Rs.800 in a sleeper bus for Bangalore. The train will only cost us Rs.250.”
Mr. Ulli said, “In May 2016, Ballari MP B.Sriramulu and officials from SWR visited the site and promised that passenger trains will be introduced in August 2016. But we are yet to get our due. We have requested multiple times to both, the SWR and the MP, but the issue is still not solved.”Mr. Yamunesh adds, “Politicians and officials are only bothered about the income that Ballari generates. But we have no other alternative but to approach them. We are trying to put pressure on them. We are making efforts and hope the passenger train begins from April 2018.”