SWR has proposed that a new entrance be constructed on the east side to provide better access to the toll free road to KIA
Four heritage stations on the outskirts of Bengaluru — Doddajala, Devanahalli, Avathihalli and Nandi — will be restored to their former glory by the end of next year. South Western Railways (SWR), which has undertaken the restoration project, has already started work at Doddajala station at an estimated cost of ₹39 lakh.
In February, the Bengaluru Division of SWR had signed an agreement with INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage) to restore the station. As part of the restoration work, granite slab stones will be reset and walls replastered. Stone masonry will also be redone.
SWR has proposed that a new entrance to the station be constructed on the east side to provide better access to the station from the main road (toll free road) that connects to Kempegowda International Airport. Plans also include the construction of a planter box cum retaining wall with landscaping on the southern side, and new ticketing room. Hardscaping in stone has been proposed along the north, east and western stretches of the structure, said officials.
The eastern exterior wall of the structure will have panels narrating the context, history and significance of the structure and its heritage, while informal seating spaces will be provided around the existing tree in the form of ‘katte’ (stone seating). All four stations were built on the Bengaluru-Chickballapur light railway (narrow gauge – 62 km) which became operational in August 1915.“The next station where work will be taken up will be Avathihalli. SWR has planned to complete restoration works of all the four stations within a year. INTACH is sourcing funds through CSR initiatives. Restoration work will also involve landscape developments around these structures,” said Chief PRO of the SWR Aneesh Hegde.
There is a proposal to develop an ‘Interpretation Centre’ for monuments and history and a café or snack counter at Devanahalli. At Avathihalli station, SWR hopes to build a Silk Museum and Resource Centre along with a park. The popular Nandi halt station will have a rail museum, a cafe and restaurant, a cultural performance centre, pop-up weekend crafts markets and an amphitheatre, among other facilities.
No sign of resuming train services to KIA
Nearly six months have passed since SWR halted train services to KIA, but there is no indication that they will be resumed. In April, SWR ‘temporarily stopped’ services citing poor patronage. In an attempt to increase ridership, it worked with BIAL to reschedule train timings. Due to non-operation of trains, the new halt station near the KIA boundary remains unused. The Railways resumed services in a phased manner, prioritising routes that had high patronage. On this particular route, ridership was never promising. “Nothing has been decided yet on re-introducing services to the airport,” said an SWR official.
Meanwhile, SWR is also buying more time to complete electrification of the line which will help run MEMU trains in the future. It had set August as the deadline to complete the electrification till Devanahalli. The project deadline was pushed back due to delays in shifting KPTCL utilities. Electrification work till Devenahalli is likely to be completed by November.