Even as Wednesday's vote-on-account rail budget announced two trains that will service the region --- the Ahmedabad - Katra Express (weekly) via Palampur, Jaipur, Rewari, Hisar, Bathinda, Amritsar and the Srigangnagar - Jammu Tawi Express (weekly) via Abohar, Bathinda, Dhuri, the region's political representatives have, for once, spoken in one voice and slammed the proposals.
SAD member of Parliament from Faridkot Paramjit Kaur Gulshan and Congress MLA from Talwandi Sabo Jeet Mohinder Singh Sidhu agree that the budget was disappointing and perhaps Pawan Kumar Bansal at the helm would have taken 'better care' of the region.
"Pawan Bansal could have brought much more projects for the state," said Gulshan over phone.
"This is an election budget. I had raised a number of demands, including making the Shatabdi from Moga a regular train, instead of a bi-weekly. Before 1947, Moga was directly linked with Delhi. Last year, I had demanded a full-track washing line for Bathinda, to no avail. A 25-km Ferozepur-Baghapurana rail track has also not been laid. Punjab is being discriminated against," she claimed.
A train announced last year, the Bathinda - Jammu Tawi Express is yet to be operational.
Bathinda lacks a washing line in the region, a reason that has been cited for the non-allocation of more trains to the region.
The Talwandi Sabo rail link announced last year is also pending.
Congress MLA Jeet Mohinder Singh Sidhu said, "The rail budget does not meet the region's expectations. The Shatabdi announced previously is also pending. The budget is not a good one for Punjab. May be if Bansal would have been around, we would have got more for the region and the state."
Shatabdi dream pending
In 2002, a Shatabdi Express was launched on the Bathinda-Delhi line, but with occupancies not picking up, the route was closed. A Delhi - Firozpur Intercity Express (Daily) via Bathinda was announced by Pawan Bansal, but the route is yet to start.
Talwandi Sabo rail link
A long-term pending demand of Sikhs to connect Takht Damdma Sahib with rail was announced by Pawan Bansal last year. Congress MLA Jeet Mohinder Sidhu claims that the project would be operational soon.