Railway Minister Lalu Prasad can hardly be accused of having been less indulgent towards home state Bihar on this occasion.
Alongside Uttar Pradesh, it is Bihar topping the list of new trains (19 each). This excludes the bi-weekly Delhi-Jaynagar Garib Rath (via Patna) that has also been proposed.
Approximately, one-fourth of the total 53 new trains are Bihar-bound. These include the Amritsar-Saharsa Jan Sadharan Express, Asansol-Mumbai Express via Jasidih, Jayanagar-Saharsa Janki Express and the Malda Town Patna Express.
In the list of new trains, only five other states touch the double-figure alongside Bihar — Delhi, UP, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh.
His native village Phulwaria and in-laws’ village Salarkela in Gopalganj district will now be on the rail route. The budget has envisaged starting a passenger train from Hajipur to Phulwaria. “This is my village, but still I have opted for just a passenger train,” said Lalu.
Patna finds a place among three other locations (New Delhi, Mumbai and Secunderabad) selected for upgradation as world-class railway stations under a Rs 15,000-crore project during the coming fiscal.
And there are other dimensions to the perceived “Bihar tilt” of this year’s budget: of the 16 trains proposed for extension, two are from Bihar. The state is also up there in the list of trains selected for extension (3 of the 11 proposed).
During 2008-09, a target of completion of gauge conversion of about 2,150 km has been fixed. In the list of 16 sectors where this work will be undertaken, two sections are in the Railway Minister’s home state: the Purnea-Saharsa section and the Sitamarhi-Narkatiaganj section.