The timings of the Ferozepur-Chandigarh express train, which was flagged off from here for a trial run on Monday, have failed to impress the commuters, especially those who have to reach Chandigarh for their official work as early as possible in the morning.
Though the train was formally launched by railway minister Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu through a centralised remote mechanism from the Rail Bhawan in New Delhi, Ferozepur MP Sher Singh Ghubaya, Ferozepur city Congress MLA Parminder Singh Pinki, besides other SAD-BJP and Congress leaders flagged it off here.
The train will start from Ferozepur at 7 am and reach Chandigarh by 11:45 am daily. The return journey of the train from Chandigarh will start at 4.30 pm and it will reach Ferozepur at 9.30 pm.
On the way, it will halt at Talwandi, Moga, Jagraon, Ludhiana, Samrala and Mohali stations
"Odd timings have been specially planned under a conspiracy to prove this train economically unviable under pressure of the state transport lobby, which has a say only in the state but also in the union government," alleged Gurbhej Singh Tibbi, who led the month-long agitation for the resumption of this train.
"If soon timings are not changed, they will launch an agitation," threatened Tibbi.
"There are seven buses which move to Chandigarh on this route between 4 am to 7 am when there is a heavy rush of passengers. The train's return timing of 4.30 pm from Chandigarh is also not suitable as the visitor has to leave his work in Chandigarh at least one hour earlier to be able to catch the train," he said.
"Majority of commuters to Chandigarh are those who visit various offices of the Punjab government besides Punjab University and the high court and wish to reach there by 9.30 in the morning so that they could return the same day to Ferozepur. But, it is almost impossible to return the same day if one travels by this train," remarked Sapan Vats, a local resident.
"Last year, at the fag-end of their regime, the UPA government had started the train but, after running for two months, it was discontinued for reasons best known to the authorities concerned.
Now, even though it was re-passed by the NDA government in the rail budget, it took several months for the railway authorities to restart it," Vishaldeep Singh Thind, a native of the city.
Meanwhile, a high drama was witnessed on Monday as both the BJP and the Congress claimed credit for the re-launch of the train.
Besides high-pitched sloganeering, supporters of both the parties even came to exchanging hot words during its flagging-off ceremony.
Earlier, a political war also prevailed between Kamal Sharma and Parminder Singh Pinki, each claiming credit for the train. Besides using social sites or WhatsApp, even leaflets were distributed by them to acclaim their respective role in the re-launch of the train.