BMRCL sticks to April 2017 date for Phase I completion.

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Johnson Cherian.
Can commuters from Nagasandra in Bengaluru north zip in a metro towards Puttenahalli on the southern end of the city in a matter of 45 minutes from April 2017?
Despite scepticism over assurances of Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. (BMRCL) — which has missed several deadlines — officials are confident that the whole Phase I of the metro network can be thrown open by mid-2017.
In the coming days, for the first time, a train will roll along the 8 km of the elevated sections between National College and Yelachenahalli (Puttenahalli), said BMRCL managing director Pradeep Singh Kharola.
“Preparations have been going for a week now, and a motor-trolley test of nearly five hours has been conducted. A battery-powered locomotive has been pushed through the underground stretch. It took 20 hours with more than 400 engineers to get the train to the elevated sections,” said Mr. Kharola after a symbolic programme to mark the start of the trials on Sunday.
However, trials can now be done only on one set of tracks (towards Yelachenahalli). A train cannot be pushed through on the other side as the underground tunnel (between K.R. Market and Kempegowda interchange ) is yet to be completed.
“Laying of tracks has been done in this tunnel, and work on cabling, tunnel ventilation and signalling are still going on. We hope to complete this by December-end,” said Mr. Kharola.
Once tests are completed, the Commissioner for Railway Safety (CRS) will be called for final approval after which commercial operations can start. Bengaluru Development Minister K.J. George said this process was expected to be completed around April 2017.
It has been more than two years since civil works on eight stations (Reach 4 and 4a) had been completed, but trials could not commence as there was difficulty pushing a train onto the track (tunnelling on the underground stretch at Chikpete had seen severe delays).
Jayanagar MLA B.N. Vijaykumar said the opening of the section would go a long way to decongest areas along the crucial metro line.
Challenges
The vast scope of the trials — where data running into lakhs of pages are collected — implies that deadlines are hard to fix. For the now-operational underground sections of the Purple Line, the first train rolled in March 2015. However, commercial operations began only a year later. For the elevated stretch of Mysuru Road to Magadi Road, the line was thrown open nearly eight months after trials began.
Phase II by 2020: BMRCL
Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. (BMRCL) believes the elevated extensions as a part of the Phase II — which will add 33 km to the existing network — of the Namma Metro can be completed by 2020.
Work on 8-km extension from Mysuru Road to Kengeri as well as the 6.29-km extension from Yelachenahalli to Anjapaura on Kanakapura Road is in progress and will be complete by mid-2018. “Land acquisition for the (15.5-km) Baiyappanahalli – Whitefield extension has been almost completed and tenders will be floated early next year. Considering around three years for construction and trials, this line should be operational from 2020,” said Pradeep Singh Kharola, managing director, BMRCL.

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