While a bus between Mangalore and Bangalore takes just 8 hours, trains between Karnataka’s two major cities take up to 12 hours and 40 minutes. This is despite repeated demands for better services between the two cities having been made by train passengers. All that seems to have happened is that the trains have become slower.
For instance, South Western Railway (SWR) shifted the terminal station of Yeshwantpur–Kannur/Karwar Express (16517/16523) from Yeshwantpur to Bangalore City from August 15 and its departure time was advanced from 8.55 p.m. in Bangalore City to 8 p.m. There is, however, no change in the arrival time at Mangalore Central (8.40 a.m.). All that the shift in stations meant was an extra 55 minutes on the train.
According to railway officials, one of the key reasons for slower trains is the single line in the ghat section between Sakleshpur and Subrahmanya Road, where there is a speed restriction of 30 km per hour. Despite, the huge volume of traffic on the route, the Railways is yet to finalise plans for a double line in this section.
However, even with the existing lines, trains could save up to an hour or more if they ply via Arsikere, the shortest route between Bangalore and Mangalore. Several rail passenger associations had demanded an overnight express between the two cities via Arsikere, but Railway Minster D.V. Sadananda Gowda sanctioned only a day train via Mysore, which takes up to 13 hours.
The long commuting time by train has forced many to opt for intercity private buses.
The Paschima Karavali Rail Yatri Abhivriddhi Samithi, is fighting for railway causes of the region, alleges that the Railways was deliberately discouraging travel by train and forcing people to opt for journey by buses. Samithi president G. Hanumanth Kamath told The Hindu that those from the poor and middle classes still preferred train journey due to low cost and safety.