Amid huge confusion over its route, the flag off of the Bathinda-Delhi Shatabdi, which was expected on Tuesday, has been cancelled for now. No further schedule has been given for the inauguration.
The route of the train from Bathinda to Delhi has become a mystery with no official ready to confirm the route and timings of the train which has been awaiting resumption of services for the past 12 years.
If senior railway officials are to be believed, the expected flagging off of the Shatabdi express on October 31 has been cancelled. Earlier, it was expected the union minister of railways, Sadananda Gowda, would flag off the train.
"For now, the programme has been cancelled without any further notice," said Anil Kumar, DRM Ambala division.
A senior railway official posted at Bathinda junction however claimed that the BJP top brass will be busy with political affairs in Maharashtra on October 31 due to which the programme has been cancelled.
"Due to the swearing-in of the chief minister in Maharashtra, the programme has been cancelled," said the official.
When the expected flag off ceremony was first reported, there were speculations about the train's halt at Mansa which still is under suspense. "There will be no stoppage at Mansa for the Shatabdi express according to the schedule we have received from the higher authorities," said Amar Singh, Mansa station superintendent.
However, the senior official at Bathinda junction said one reason behind the cancellation of the inauguration could be the adjustment in the route. "The earlier route has been scrapped and the new schedule will be announced with new stoppages," he said, wishing not to be named.
The administration which responded late evening clarified that the flag off ceremony had been postponed due to the model code of conduct imposed in the national capital owing to the soon to be held by elections.
In 2002, the Delhi-bound Shatabdi express was flagged off by Nitish Kumar, the then railway minister, from Bathinda railway station. The train was supposed to run five days a week but due to lack of passengers, it was discontinued after 15 days. It had five stops at Barnala, Dhuri, Patiala, Rajpura and Ambala during its to and fro journey.
The route was changed in 2014 and will now skip Barnala, Dhuri, Patiala, Rajpura and Ambala. It will follow the route of Bathinda, Mansa and Jakhal. The decision to not stop the train at Mansa railway station may be seen as a setback for Bathinda MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal, especially when the Shatabdi is expected to halt at several district headquarters of Haryana.