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Bengaluru  Surface  Light  Rail  
Praja  RAAG  –  Call  to  Action  
This  is  a  Call  to  Action  report  by  Praja  RAAG  for  the  authorities  in  Bengaluru  to  implement  
Surface  Light  Rail  along  the  ORR  and  arterial  corridors  crossing  the  city.  This  document  will  
describe  the  details  of  how  such  a  system  will  take  Bengaluru  transport  to  the  next  
generation  mitigating  congestion  along  the  corridors  and  facilitating  transfers  to  other  
transport  systems.  

O n   B e h a l f   o f   P r a j a   R A A G :   S a t h y a   S a n k a r a n   &   S r i n i d h i   S a m p a t h  

Bengaluru  Surface  Light  Rail  

The  System  

Surface  Light  Rail  an  urban  form  of  public  transport  often  using  rolling  stock  
similar  to  a  tramway,  but  operating  primarily  along  exclusive  rights-­‐of-­‐way  and  
having  vehicles  capable  of  operating  as  a  single  tramcar  or  as  multiple  units  
coupled  together  to  form  a  train.    
 
Several  cities  have  used  Light  Rail  Systems  successfully  to  supplement  buses  and  
clear  congestion.  More  than  390  operational  non-­‐tourist  tram/Light  Rail  Systems  
are  operating  in  the  world  currently,  including  9  cities  in  China  and  8  in  Africa.  
The  SLR  can  be  a  worthwhile  addition  to  the  metro  and  commuter  rail  being  
planned  for  the  city.  
 
SLR  can  be  built  along  any  city  street  Even  if  they  are  crowded  narrow  etc.  the  
track  can  become  elevated  or  go  underground  if  needed  making  it  very  flexible.  
Light  Rail  can  also  share  mainline  tracks  if  made  on  the  same  guage.  Due  to  this  
flexibility  cities  are  considering  it  to  serve  pedestrian  districts,  many  cities  
worldwide  are  reporting  that  transit  malls  are  revitalizing  downtown  cores.  
With  the  next  generation  of  mobility  focusing  on  walkable  cities  world  wide  and  
car  free  streets  coming  into  Bangalore  this  mode  can  be  a  worthwhile  option.  

Case  Studies  
Portland  –  MAX  light  rail    
MAX  Light  Rail,  or  Metropolitan  Area  Express,  is  a  light  rail  system  consisting  of  
four  separate  lines  (Blue,  Green,  Red,  and  Yellow  lines)  serving  87  stations  in  the  
Portland  metropolitan  area  in  Oregon.    
 
The  system  has  had  an  
average  weekday  
ridership  between  
115,000  and  130,000  
since  Fiscal  Year  2010.  
It  is  owned  and  
operated  by  TriMet  and  
began  service  in  1986.  
With  a  total  system  
length  of  52  mi  
(83.7  km) MAX  runs  
about  every  15  minutes  
or  better  most  of  the  
day,  every  day.  Service  
is  less  frequent  in  the  
early  morning  and  late  evening.  
 
MAX  Light  Rail  stations  vary  in  size,  but  are  generally  simple  and  austere.  There  
are  no  faregates  or  specially  segregated  areas.  Some  stations  have  platforms  and  
entrance  halls,  while  others  are  little  more  than  streetcar-­‐style  stops.  Official  
concessionaires  sometimes  open  coffee  shops  at  stations.  

Bengaluru  Surface  Light  Rail  
 
MAX  uses  a  proof-­‐of-­‐payment  system;  riders  must  carry  a  valid  ticket  or  pass  at  
all  times.  Tickets  or  passes  are  purchased  before  boarding  and  retained  as  proof  
of  payment.  Passengers  must  board  the  train  before  the  time  on  ticket  or  pass  
expires,  and  are  allowed  to  ride  past  the  time  on  the  ticket,  provided  the  train  
was  boarded  before  the  expiration  time.  After  validation,  tickets  are  valid  for  2½  
hours  and  passes  are  valid  until  end  of  service  day,  and  can  be  used  an  unlimited  
number  of  times,  for  travel  in  any  direction,  on  MAX,  TriMet  buses,  Portland  
Streetcar,  and  C-­‐Tran  buses.  
 
In  parts  of  the  MAX  system,  MAX  trains  run  on  surface  streets.  Except  on  the  
Portland  Transit  Mall,  trains  run  in  reserved  lanes  closed  to  other  motorized  
vehicles.  On  the  Transit  Mall,  trains  operate  on  the  same  lanes  as  TriMet  buses  
(although  MAX  trains  have  traffic  priority).  Elsewhere,  MAX  runs  within  its  own  
exclusive  right-­‐of-­‐way,  in  street  medians,  alongside  freeways,  and  on  former  
freight  railroad  lines.  
 
Where  the  tracks  run  in  a  street  median,  intersections  are  generally  controlled  
by  traffic  signals  which  give  trains  preemption.  Where  the  tracks  occupy  a  
completely  separate  right-­‐of-­‐way,  the  tracks  are  protected  by  automated  grade  
crossing  gates.    
 
Because  of  Portland's  relatively  small  200-­‐foot  (61  m)  downtown  blocks,  trains  
operate  with  only  one  or  two  cars,  but  as  ridership  has  grown  and  additional  
light  rail  cars  have  been  acquired,  most  lines  now  normally  use  all  two-­‐car  trains.  

Stockholm  –  Tvarbanan  
Tvärbanan  is  a  light  rail  line  in  Stockholm,  Sweden.  Its  name  literally  translated  
into  English  is  Crossways  line.  It  links  together  many  bus  and  rail  lines  
crossways  through  its  
connections  with  the  
southern,  western  and  
northern  subway  
branches  of  the  
Stockholm  Metro  
(Tunnelbanan)  and  
the  Stockholm  
commuter  rail  
(Pendeltåg)  
 
Tvärbanan  has  a  
single  line  with  17  
stops.  Traffic  on  
Tvärbanan  started  in  
2000,  was  used  by  
around  32,000  passengers  per  weekday  in  2005  and  44,000  per  weekday  in  
2007.    
 

Bengaluru  Surface  Light  Rail  
The  tramway  is  separated  from  roads  in  most  parts,  but  there  are  sections  where  
the  tracks  run  on  roads  among  regular  road  traffic.  In  Hammarby  sjöstad  the  
trains  run  in  a  reservation  in  the  centre  of  the  road  rather  than  in  mixed  traffic,  
but  there  are  level  crossings  between  the  electric  train  line  and  several  streets.  

Dublin  –  Luas  
Irish  for  "speed",  also  promoted  in  the  development  stage  as  the  Dublin  Light  
Rail  System,  is  a  tram  or  light  rail  system  serving  Dublin  in  Ireland.    
 
There  are  currently  
two  Luas  main  lines,  it  
has  54  stations  and  
runs  36.5  kilometres  
of  service  track.  In  
2014,  the  system  
carried  32.4  million  
passengers,  up  6.2%  
from  30.5  million  
passengers  in  2013.  
Trams  operate  from  05:30  to  00:30  Monday  to  Friday  and  starts  an  hour  later  on  
weekends.  Services  run  at  regular  intervals,  from  every  4–5  minutes  during  peak  
times  to  every  15  minutes  late  at  night.  The  Luas  is  operated  by  Transdev,  under  
tender  from  the  Railway  Procurement  Agency  (RPA)  
 
Luas  tickets  are  purple  in  colour  and  credit  card  sized.  They  bear  a  magnetic  
stripe  on  the  back  although  this  is  not  used  on  Luas.  Uniquely  among  Dublin's  
public  transport,  tickets  are  not  checked  upon  boarding  trams  and  an  honour  
system,  combined  with  random  inspections,  is  used.  Luas  tickets  are  sold  at  
newsagents  and  other  shops,  mostly  in  the  vicinity  of  Luas  stops.  Joint  Luas  and  
Dublin  Bus  tickets  can  be  purchased  from  Luas  vending  machines  for  immediate  
use,  as  well  as  from  Dublin  Bus  ticket  agents.  Tickets  bought  at  Dublin  Bus  agents  
must  be  validated  on  a  bus  before  being  valid  for  a  tram  (since  Luas  does  not  use  
ticket  validation  systems  upon  boarding  the  tram).  Tickets  cannot  be  purchased  
on  board  the  trams.  Smart  cards  are  also  used.  
 
 
 

Bengaluru  Surface  Light  Rail  

Advantages  of  SLR  

1. Buses  can  share  the  street  and  dedicated  lanes  used  by  the  SLR.  
2. Larger  capacity  than  articulated  buses,  each  car  can  hold  3  times  more  
people  than  a  bus  and  2  to  3  cars  can  be  attached.  
3. They  can  also  share  mainline  standard  gauge  tracks  so  off  road  segments  
can  be  shared  with  other  existing  systems.  
4. Dual  sided  door  can  allow  tracks  to  go  on  the  edges  of  the  road  or  the  
middle  and  have  platforms  on  either  side.  
5. Save  on  building  expensive  elevated  or  underground  corridors.  
6. Runs  on  electricity  and  saves  on  fuel  import  bill  
7. Reduced  noise  &  pollution  levels  over  other  surface  modes  
8. Disabled  and  senior  citizen  friendly  low  floor  design  
9. Increases  Cycling  &  walking  thereby  increasing  the  health  benefits  to  the  
society.  Some  systems  allow  cycles  to  be  carried  in  the  cars  in  the  rear  car.  
10. Corresponding  upgrade  in  infrastructure  in  the  surrounding  benefits  the  
neighborhood.  

The  Proposition  

On  similar  lines,  Bengaluru  Surface  Light  Rail  (BSLR)  needs  to  be  implemented  in  
Bengaluru.  This  will  utilize  low  floor  air  conditioned  trams  from  agencies  like  
Siemens  &  Bombardier  who  make  these  tram  cars.  This  needs  to  implemented  in  
phases.    
 
A  pilot  project  to  implement  this  from  Silk  board  to  Hebbal  along  ORR  should  be  
immediately  commissioned  and  the  earlier  proposal  for  BRTS  be  upgraded  to  a  
SLR  proposal  instead  using  the  same  alignment.  Further  phases  can  target  the  
radial  corridors  in  the  city  cutting  across  the  city.  
 
Since  BSLR  is  surface  rail  and  buses  will  share  the  dedicated  infrastructure,  it  can  
be  owned  &  implemented  by  KSRTC/BMTC.  This  will  allow  it  to  be  coupled  with  
appropriate  feeder  services.  The  O&M  can  be  tendered  to  competent  parties  with  
performance  incentives  and  penalties.