Light rail transit is a metropolitan electric railway system characterized by its ability to operate short trains along exclusive rights-of-way at ground level, on aerial structures, in subways or, occasionally, in streets, and to board and discharge passengers at track or car-floor level. Light rail is a form of rail-based transport that is particularly suited to distances between 10 and 50 km.
Most Indian cities are low-rise urban trails and require medium capacity modes of transport. As per the recommendations of the working group on urban transport for the 12th Five Years’ Planning, Light Rail Transit (LRT) should be provided in all cities with a population of million plus. The Comprehensive Mobility Plan for Mysuru highlights LRT as one of the options of mass transit mode to change the travel characteristics from a primarily private mode based to a mass transport based.
Feasibility of an urban rail transport system for Mysuru:
As per the recommendations of the working group on urban transport for the 12th FYP, LRT should be provided in all cities with a population of a million plus. There are 53 cities in this category as per the 2011 census. Thus all these cities are couriers for introduction of LRT. Mysuru is one of the two urban agglomerations in Karnataka that are in the million plus population range. The Comprehensive Mobility Plan of Mysuru highlights LRT as one of the options of mass transit mode to change the travel characteristics from a primarily private mode based to a mass transport based. Hence Mysore presents an interesting choice for study location due to its inherent tourist centric and institutional character.
The city of Mysuru is a national tourist attraction known for its palaces and royal heritage. The Mysuru Urban Agglomeration houses a population of 1.06 million. It is administered by the Mysore Municipal Corporation for a geographical extent of 128 sqkm, and Hootagally City Municipal Council, and the Town Municipal Councils of Bogadi, Srirampura, Rammanahalli and Kadakola, which increases the over all city limits to 285 sqkm.
The core city of Mysuru consists of the Mysore palace and its surrounds. The core comprises of the old dense commercial areas, railway and bus terminals, secretariat and government offices and educational institutions. The second ring around the core consists of residential clusters, the Mysore University campus, educational institutions, Mysore zoo and other tourist attractions. The third ring abutting the outer ring road consists of clusters of manufacturing and information technology (IT) industries and upcoming residential areas. The character of the inner city is essentially defined by the palace and its surroundings, acquiring the tag of heritage city and cultural capital. The total tourist inflow to Mysuru was 3.7 million in 2018, making it one of the most visited tourist cities in the country.
Proposed routes under LRT:
The existence of a definite demand corridor and high peak hour trips of up to 15,000 present a distinct opportunity for alignment of light rail in Mysuru. The first route has been identified along the north-west to the south-east of the city passing through the core, called the Palace line. The route connects the industrial cluster, the Mysore University, the city railway station and the bus station, the Mysore palace and the tourist cluster in the south-east. It would serve intercity passengers moving from the city core towards the north, north-west, comprising of the work trips in the city. It would also serve intercity tourists travelling south from the city bus station and the railway station. The operational characteristics of LRT suit the institutional and tourist character of the city. It provides connection between origin and destination zones of trips and would generate a daily ridership of 6 lakhs. It is assumed to have a shift of 15% from other modes, mostly 2-wheelers, cars and private tourist vehicles. Ridership of existing public transport system is not expected to reduce by not more than 2%.
The second route is identified along the north-south axis from the northern end of the Mysuru conurbation, till the southern end, called the North-South line. This route is designed to capture the regional traffic entering and leaving the city which forms 26% of the daily traffic volume. The route would serve to decongest the city core by restricting regional traffic to the outskirts of the city. The route would generate a daily ridership of 8 lakh passengers. The routes are expected to decongest the city by making a modal shift from 2-wheelers and private modes.
LRT provides a more feasible mode of transport compared to Metro rail & BRTS in terms of ridership & cost, for a medium sized city like Mysuru. The study insists that LRT can be seamlessly integrated into the existing land use & transport of Mysuru city. The study proposes 43.5 KM of ‘feasible’ LRT corridors, which could be constructed in 3 phases. Apart from the proposed routes, seamless connectivity between the city centre & Mysuru Airport can also be achieved through LRT, which increases the total length of this urban rail system to 55.5 KM. Thus, it is clearly evident that LRT helps in decongesting Mysuru city without depriving the other modes of their right of road space. It ideally integrates land use and transportation in the city, making it future ready to accommodate the ever increasing population and matching its industrial growth.