Local MP and railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal flagged off the first-ever non-stop Shatabdi Express between Chandigarh and New Delhi from the city railway station on Monday.
The seat occupancy on the first day was 61%. The train was flagged off at its scheduled time of 11:40 am with 460 passengers, including 28 in the executive class.
Before flagging off the train, the minister went inside one of the coaches and interacted with passengers.
Bansal also inspected the pantry in the train and advised officials concerned to ensure cleanliness. The passengers appreciated the German coaches and thanked the minster for giving such a gift to his hometown.
Justifying the fair hike, Bansal said the same was the need of the hour.
Commenting on the world-class facilities for the city railway station, Bansal said the role of private players was very important in the development of the station and the railways alone cannot handle the project. He maintained that with no private players coming forward, it had become an area of concern for the railway authorities.
However, he mentioned that a budget of approximately Rs 20 crore had been sanctioned to upgrade the city railway station. He said, "We have already approved the plan of constructing escalators and the work on the same will start soon. Besides, the station will have an upgraded food plaza, if no one objects to it"
He added that the parking area would be renovated and the road to Darua village from the station will also be constructed again. Bansal gave a five-month deadline to the authorities concerned to upgrade the parking facilities, putting escalators and setting up of food plaza. He said the maintenance and cleanliness of the railway station were his priorities.
Bansal said people travelling through Shatabdi would have to pay for food even if they don't want it, but the quality of food would be improved a lot.
Putting speculations to end, the minister stated that the city residents would have to wait for a morning train to Amritsar and indicated that the same would not be approved in the forthcoming rail budget.
Bansal said the security of passengers was the priority of the railways and plans were being chalked out to handle the same. He added that the city railway station had been picked up by the railways among the 100 stations where cleanliness drive would be undertaken.
Huge crowd and Congress supporters gathered on the spot, making it difficult for passengers to get into the train
Passengers interacted with the railway minister and thanked him with flowers
The morning Shatabdi from Delhi, which reaches the city at 11.05, reached at 12.30pm. Officials claimed that the delay was because of fog.
The minister was accompanied by his wife Madhu Bansal and Senior Congress leader from city BB Behl.
Officials from Ambala division and IRCTC were also present
The passenger response for the new evening Shatabdi from New Delhi that reached the city at 10.35pm was as low as 33%
AC chair car: 432 out of 698 seats were occupied
Executive class: 28 out of 56 seats were occupied
Fare: R 475 for AC chair car; R990 for executive class