The Modi government’s maiden railway budget gave Patiala residents no reason to cheer as the district got no share in the 58 new trains announced by union railway minister Sadananda Gowda on Tuesday.
Suffering from poor rail connectivity over the years, the residents had pinned hopes on the promises made by the BJP-NDA during the Lok Sabha elections in May. But, the budget had no allocations for new trains in this route, up gradation of railway station or electrification of railway lines in the district.
Though a Bathinda-New Delhi Shatabdi train was announced, its route has been altered to pass through Jakhal instead of Patiala and Rajpura due to non-availability of electric railway lines.
Terming the budget hopeless, Patiala member of Parliament (MP) Dr Dharamvira Gandhi said that the budget was surprising for him and his party as the railway minister had assured to improve rail connectivity across the district by starting new trains. “We will take up demands from Patiala constituency with the railway minister one more time. If the union government fails to take note of our needs, we will launch an agitation in Delhi,” said Dr Gandhi.
Dr Gandhi had met Gowda on June 30 and urged him to start new trains in the region to improve not just Patiala’s connectivity but also that of Malwa region, which comprises 14 out of 22 districts in the state. But, his demands were not fulfilled.
The Patiala MP also requested the railway minister to start a Shatabdi train service from Fazilka in Punjab to Delhi via Muktsar and Patiala, operating at least thrice a week, while plying between Ferozepur and Delhi via Patiala on other days. He also handed over illustrative maps for the route suggested and informed the minister about the long-pending demand of Patiala-Jakhal rail link, but to no avail.
RESIDENTS FAVOUR SHATABDI VIA SANGRUR
Residents of the city, while welcoming the announcement of the New Delhi-Bathinda Shatabdi in the zone, rued that more areas could have been connected, especially Sangrur. At present, very few trains run through Sangrur, the residents said. At least, one train, that connects the area to Chandigarh could have been added.
According to residents, cleanliness at the railway station here remains a major concern of the passengers.
The former UPA government had declared it as an ‘adarsh’ railway station but facilities are not up to the mark.