Railways minister Pawan Kumar Bansal on Wednesday conceded popular demands by announcing 19 new trains, but Opposition leaders remained dissatisfied – with leaders of the BJP, Left, JD (U), Shiv Sena, Trinamool Congress and the BJD staging a walkout ahead of the passage of the rail budget by a voice vote in the Lok Sabha.
The extension of three trains and an increase in the frequency of five other trains have also been announced. These are in addition to the 106 new trains that Bansal had announced in his maiden budget speech on February 26.
Opposition leaders alleged that Bansal’s budget focused only on the Congress-ruled states. Responding to a two-day debate, Bansal reiterated plans to fill 1.52 lakh vacancies, while asserting that he would focus on spending the “limited resources” on rail safety and providing better services.
Allocations for safety have been hiked 12.5% this year, as more than Rs. 41,000 crore has been set aside for the purpose against a provision of R36,500 crore last year, Bansal said.
Provisioning on passenger amenities have also been substantially hiked – from Rs. 968 crore last year to Rs. 1,200 crore this year.
Countering opposition charges about discrimination, he said, “We cannot indulge in financial profligacy. We can’t indulge in the luxury which was resorted to earlier.”
New trains announced:
Delhi-Trivandrum Express (weekly),
Hatia-Yesvantpur Express (weekly),
Jodhpur-Samdari-Bhildi passenger (daily),
Mumbai-Karaikal Express (weekly) via Chennai, Nagapattnam,
Nagpur-Ajmer Express (weekly) via Bhopal, Kota, Nagada,
Okha-Nathdwara Express (weekly) via Dwarka,
Tata-Vishakhapatnam Express (weekly),
Varanasi-Shaktinagar Link Express (daily),
Chhapra-Anandvihar Express (wkly) via Jagdhatri, Sharanpur
Bilaspur-Bikram Express (Bi-weekly),
Raipur-Jammu Tawi (weekly) via Amritsar,
Durg-Chhapra Express (weekly) via Ballia,
Ernakulam-Kollam MEMU via Kottayam,
Extension of train services:
Trivandrum-Kozhikode Jan Shatabdi to Kannur
Shoranur-Kozhikode passenger to Thrisur
Patna-Sasaram Express to Bhabhua Road after development of
infrastructure facilities at Bhabua Road station
Increase in frequency:
Indore-Pune Express from three days to four days
Mangalore-Kacheguda Express (weekly) will be now bi-weekly
Lokmanya Tilak-Kochuveli Express (wkly) will be bi-weekly
Puri-Ajmer Express (weekly) via Abu Road will be bi-weekly
Karimnagar-Tirupati from weekly to bi-weekly.