Four new trains, including a Shatabdi connecting New Delhi with Bathinda, were announced for Punjab in the rail budget on Tuesday.
Union railway minister DV Sadananda Gowda, in his speech, also announced train service on the Sikh circuit, connecting main gurdwaras in the country.
The SAD, the coalition partner of the BJP in Punjab, has welcomed the introduction of new trains for the state, while the opposition leaders said the demand for the crucial 35-km stretch from Rajpura to Chandigarh connecting major part of Punjab with the state capital was still missing.
“Anyone coming from Bathinda to Chandigarh has to go via Ambala in Haryana,” said People’s Party of Punjab president Manpreet Singh Badal. Alleging indifferent treatment to the state, Manpreet said no high-speed train was given to Punjab.
The railway minister also announced Ferozepur-Chandigarh link (six times a week), Saharsa (Bihar)-Amritsar Jansadharan Express, and Nagpur-Amritsar (weekly). The Nagpur-Amritsar rail link is seen as important for the state as there are a large number of Punjabis settled in Nagpur.
Besides, there are three other trains passing through Punjab, namely Indore-Jammu Tawi Express and Kamakhya-Katra Express (both weekly) and Kanpur-Jammu Tawi Express (bi-weekly). The Ludhiana-Hisar passenger train has been extended to Sadulpur in Haryana.
Welcoming the budget, Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal described it as growth-oriented and passenger-friendly, which would propel all-round development and prosperity in the country.
Meanwhile, reacting sharply to the rail budget, state Congress president Partap Singh Bajwa said Punjab badly needed better train connectivity but the problem was that the SAD-BJP government never took up the issue convincingly with the Centre as there were reasons for that.
“The family of chief minister Parkash Singh Badal has total control over private road transport in the state. The family also has monopoly over the plying of luxury buses on all main routes. Better rail connectivity would badly hit the transport business of the family,” Bajwa claimed.
He said the 35-km Rajpura-Chandigarh link is most crucial for Punjab, which the Centre had ignored.
Meanwhile, Ludhiana Congress MP Ravneet Singh Bittu said connecting Sikh circuit across the country was a farce as there were already trains connecting Takhts (temporal seats) of Sikhs.