The city's wait to get its Shatabdi Express back got longer on Tuesday with union railways minister Pawan Kumar Bansal announced new intercity to Delhi via Bathinda but saying nothing on resuming the Bathinda-Delhi Shatabdi.
In August 2002, Shatabdi Express on Bathinda-New Delhi line was introduced but it failed to get an encouraging response as the total occupancy of the train was always below 15%, which made authorities to call off the train.
However, since then things have changed in and around Bathinda. Now Bathinda is surrounded by the Rs. 18,919-crore HPCL-HMEL oil refinery, two new power projects at Banawali, Talwandi Sabo, and Gobindpura in Mansa besides Central University of Punjab.
Commercial activities in Bathinda have reached to the next level but still there is no direct connectivity of the city with the national capital. Need for this train service has being felt due to persistent demands of professionals, executives, government officials, politicians, agriculturists, traders and businessmen of the region.
Introduction of the Delhi-Ferozepur Intercity Express (Daily) via Bathinda must have given some relief to people in the region.
Congress leaders all praise for Bansal
Congress MLA from Talwandi Sabo Jeet Mohinder Sidhu has welcomed the announcement by railways minister to connect Takht Damdama Sahib with the railway network.
“I thank railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal for the proposal to link Rama Mandi with Maur Mandi via Talwandi Sabo. This is a historic decision for the people of Punjab as it will be for the first time that Takht Damdama Sahib at Talwandi Sabo will be linked with the other four Takhts of the Sikh religion located in various parts of the country,” he said.
'Badals will not like rail budget'
Congress general secretary and former minister Harmander Singh Jassi has said the announcements made by union rail minister Pawan Kumar Bansal will pinch Badals, the “ruling family” in the state.
The railway minister has not only met the long-pending demand of Sikhs by connecting Takht Damdama Sahib with rail link but it will also affect the earnings of the Badals, which they collect from their fleet of buses running on this route, claimed Jassi.
He added that similarly, other new trains announced for Punjab will directly lower the profit of Badals in the transportation business. “So they can never like this budget.”
Interestingly, Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal has criticised the railway budget.