Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Hindu

Online edition of India's National Newspaper
Thursday, Feb 17, 2011

‘Include doubling of trunk routes in rail budget'

Anil Kumar Sastry

A circular train between Hubli-Bangalore also demanded

BANGALORE: Doubling of trunk railway routes between Bangalore–Miraj, Bangalore–Guntakal, Bangalore–Mysore and Bangalore–Dharmapuri are among the several demands put forth by the State Government, industrial and trade Union bodies from the State for inclusion in the Railway Budget.

Unless these already saturated trunk routes are doubled and electrified, introduction of new trains on the existing tracks will be difficult, according to the former member of Zonal Rail Users' Consultative Coordination Committees of Southern and South Western Railways, Prakash Mandoth.

He said South Western Railways (SWR) and Karnataka had not been receiving a fair budgetary allocation, despite making substantial contribution to the revenue of the Railways. Also, the State Government was willing to share 50 per cent of the project costs, Mr. Mandoth told The Hindu.

If the Ministry of Railways and the Railway Board did not give preferential treatment to the demands of Karnataka, the State's railway network would remain poor in comparison to other south Indian States, he warned.

Echoing a similar concern, general secretary of the All-India Loco Running Staff Association, SWR, C. Sunish said doubling of trunk routes, electrification and constructing new lines on routes of economic significance were the need of the hour.

The State Government too had already made its demands clear to the Railway Ministry.

New trains

Mr. Mandoth said there was need for new train services that include superfast train from Bangalore to Mumbai; daily train to Shirdi or Aurangabad; trains to Jammu, Varanasi, Amritsar, Dehradun and Indore; daily service to Belgaum; Garib Rath to Solapur to cater to the Hyderabad Karnataka people; direct train to Karwar; Hubli–Hyderabad service; Hubli–Bangalore circular train service via Londa, Madgaon, Karwar, Mangalore, Hassan, Bangalore and Hubli, and commuter rail service for Bangalore.

He said immediate attention should be given to doubling of track between Tumkur–Miraj; Bangalore–Guntakal and Bangalore–Dharmapuri, as these lines were already saturated. Doubling of lines would not only facilitate introduction of more passenger trains, but also speed up movement of goods trains, Mr. Mandoth noted.

Also, the new line between Hubli and Ankola should be given priority, he demanded. New Railway divisions in Gulbarga and Mangalore under SWR, pending for long time, should be sanctioned, he urged.

Mr. Sunish said that all trains originating and reaching Bangalore should be given stops at stations along the periphery of the city to prevent passengers' travel by road within the city.

The Bangalore–Devanahalli line should be doubled and electrified to run regular train to the international airport, he said. Mr. Sunish noted that speedy completion of Kadur–Chikmagalur–Sakaleshpur line would reduce the distance between Hubli and Mangalore.

A new line should be built between Mysore and Thalaserry via Kadakola, Suragur and Mananthavadi.

He also demanded re-routing of the 11097/ 98 Pune–Ernakulam Poornima Express via Hubli, Arsikere, Hassan, Mangalore instead of Londa and Madgaon and introduction of direct train between Hubli and Mangalore.

Meanwhile, the other demands which have come up ahead of the Railway budget include reasonable modification of passenger fares in view of diesel price hike; restriction on unwarranted concessions, namely, Izzat monthly pass etc; filling vacancies in critical and top posts.

Mr. Sunish felt that important sectors should not be handed over to private sector in the name of PPP.

He emphasised the importance of strict financial discipline and increase in Garib Rath passenger fares to include bed roll charges.

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