Yet again, the second rail budget of the Narendra Modi government tabled in the Parliament on Thursday, offered nothing to cheer up the city residents. Railway minister Suresh Parbhu in his budget speech did not announce any new train or any new project for the Chandigarh railway station.
Several proposals submitted by city MP Kirron Kher on behalf of Chandigarh, such as starting a Garib Rath express from Chandigarh to Kochuveli, increasing the frequency of Kerela Sampark Kranti express, daily trains to Bandra , Patliputra, Haridwar, Dibrugarh and extension of Chandigarh-Lucknow express till Ayodhya, did not find any mention in Prabhu’s speech.
The city is already awaiting completion of projects announced in the past — making the railway station world class, introducing high-speed train between Chandigarh and Delhi, reverse osmosis drinking water unit.
A number of city residents this correspondent talked to termed the budget disappointing. One of the residents, Sarwar Nizam of Sector 23, said, “It is the second time that the rail budget has failed to announce any new train for the city. By introducing WiFi, bar-coded tickets, e-catering services, railways has not made the common man happy who would only be interested to know if some new train has been introduced.”
Echoing the same opinion, Sudhanshu Wadhwa, who was waiting for a train at the railway station, said, “I do not find any excitement about having a WiFi-enabled station. We do not stay at the station for long hours. It may benefit a few who would have to book their tickets on the spot. The priorities of a common man are missing in the budget.”
Most residents shared that this year, the budget seemed to have repeated the older projects. “It is like new wine in the old bottle. Announcements of having a WiFi-enabled stations, bio-toilets, CCTV cameras, e-catering services, revamping of reservation system, mobile-based wake up calls, cleanliness, beautification, charging points in trains etc are some of the proposals which we have been hearing about for the past two years but the implementation is awaited,” said Neelam Sudhera, a resident of Sector 20.
However, the budget has some good news for women as the railways has introduced 33% seats for women and round-the-clock helpline (182). There is proposal to introduce disposable bed rolls on Shatabdi and Rajdhani trains and beautification of the stations as well.
‘Cleaning on demand’ facility has also been introduced for which a passenger will be able to send a text to the authorities to get the toilet of his or her coach cleaned. Also bringing relief for the mothers travelling with their babies, the railways will make available hot water, milk and baby food on trains. Prabhu also announced that children’s menu will also be prepared on a pilot basis.
Meanwhile, some residents appreciated the budget as well.
One of the residents Amita Singh said, “It is a wonderful initiative especially for the mothers like me who have to travel on longer routes with kids. It is usually very difficult to travel with babies in absence of facilities to boil milk or water.”
People were also relieved that there was no hike in the rail fare.