Sunday, February 27, 2011


Online edition of India's National Newspaper
Saturday, Feb 26, 2011

Bangalore does not get commuter rail again

Staff Reporter

The Railway Budget 2011-12 presented by Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee may have won many bouquets for its munificence on Karnataka, but the absence of any reference to the State's demand for commuter rail system has come in for criticism.

Though the State had been fervently seeking a commuter rail system for Bangalore to complement other modes of public transport such as the bus and Metro, the Railway Ministry's failure to include the proposal in the budget has come as a disappointment to not only the Bangalore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCIC) but also the Citizens Action Forum.

While the Minister announced the setting up of a special purpose vehicle for commuter rail to Kolkata, which had a Metro service operated by the Railways, no similar gesture was shown to Bangalore. This is despite t

he State Government promising to share the cost or arrange a public-private partnership for the initiative.

In a statement, N. Mukund from the Citizens Action Forum said the demand for commuter rail for Bangalore should have been considered on the lines of MRVC of Mumbai. The fact that Ms. Banerjee did not visit Karnataka since she became the Railway Minister could have prevented her from sensing the actual requirements of the State, he quipped.

Bangalore Chamber of Industry and Commerce (BCIC) welcomed the budget and said some novel features had been announced to initiate reforms and modernisation to make railway services more contemporary. The chamber appreciated the Minister for providing the highest outlay of Rs. 57,630 crore which, it feels, will make most of the proposals a reality. The chamber also congratulated the Minister for introducing several new trains for Karnataka, according to a release.

The former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy has criticised the Railway Budget for “ignoring” Karnataka. “It appears Karnataka does not exist on the map of India for the UPA Government,” Mr. Kumaraswamy said in a statement.

C. Sunish, General Secretary of South Western Railway Zone's All India Loco Running Staff Association, regretted the silence of the budget on relieving the human element from stress and strain of overworking. While the worldwide working hours for railway pilots are kept at 36 hours a week or six hours a day, in India, the railway pilots are forced to work at least 10 hours a day, he regretted.

He also criticised the Minister's hesitation to increase the passenger fares commensurate with diesel price hike. While concessions had to be limited, the budget expanded the scope of concessions, he rued. Reduction in ticket booking charges will affect revenues, he said.

· ‘The demand should have been considered'

· ‘Novel features will make services contemporary'


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