Finally, a railway minister trains focus on UT
After receiving a raw deal from successive railway ministers in the past several years, residents of City Beautiful have got something to cheer about as local MP and railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal on Tuesday announced a slew of rail sops for his home turf.
Among the proposals in the 2013-14 rail budget presented in Parliament were announcements regarding several new trains, increase in frequency of existing trains for better connectivity and a rail-based industry in the region.
Interestingly, since Bansal hails from the city, Chandigarh residents had great expectations from this year's rail budget.
In a major boost to the city, the railway minister announced setting up of a modern signaling equipment facility through public private partnership (PPP) mode at an estimated cost of Rs 80 crore.
Out of 67 new express trains announced, the city's share was four. It takes the UT's tally of such trains to 17. In January 2013, the city got its third Shatabdi Express. Besides, the minister proposed extension of as many as three trains and increase in the frequency of two trains.
The city has also been selected for setting up an institute to impart skills to the youth in railway-related trades under the national skill development programme of the railway ministry. Another proposal includes doubling of Dapper-Chandigarh track.
Hike in fares
Though Bansal has spared train passengers from further hike in fares, they would have to shell out more for sundry charges like supplementary charges for superfast trains, reservation fee, clerkage charge, cancellation charge and Tatkal charge.
With increase in the charges, tricity residents would have to shell Rs 10 to Rs 40 more as majority of the trains plying from the Chandigarh railway station are superfast. For reservation, people would have to pay Rs 10 to Rs 15 more. The reservation fee for AC III-tier has been enhanced from Rs 25 to Rs 40. Likewise, the fee for AC II-tier has been enhanced to Rs 30. Similarly, reservation charges for AC chair car and executive class in Shatabdi train is likely to go up from Rs 30 to Rs 50.
Trains to pilgrim centres
Striking an emotional chord with the residents of the tricity, Bansal announced the much-awaited trains to Shirdi, Katra and Hazoor Sahib.
The trains meant for devotees include Sai Nagar Shirdi Express (bi-weekly) from Kalka, Katra-Kalka Express (bi-weekly) and Una/Nangal Dam-Hazoor Sahib Nanded Express (weekly) via Anandpur Sahib, Morinda, Chandigarh, Ambala, and Chandigarh-Amritsar Intercity Express.
Sukhpal Singh, a city-based industrialist, lauded Bansal for presenting the rail budget as per the expectations of the common man. "Bansal has taken into consideration the demands of residents by announcing trains to religious places," said Sukhpal Singh.
The ministry has taken initiatives for public safety by taking decision for elimination of level crossings on the Chandigarh-Morinda route and limited height subways on the Nangal Dam-Sirhind route.
Funds have been allocated for constructing rail staff quarters in Chandigarh. Authorities intend to construct 50 Type-II, 45 Type-III and 10 Type-IV quarters at an estimated cost of Rs 7.85 crore.
As much as Rs 9.21core has been allocated for development of multi-functional complex and Rs 10.72 crore for development of freight terminal. Other projects include four-laned road overbridge in lieu of level crossing.
What We Got
Doubling of railway track from Dapper to Chandigarh
New Yamunanagar-Chandigarh line via Sadhaura, Naraingarh
Amritsar-Lalkuan Express (weekly) via Chandigarh
Chandigarh-Amritsar Intercity Express (daily) via Mohali, Ludhiana
Indore-Chandigarh Express (weekly) via Dewas, Ujjain, Guna, Gwalior, Hazrat Nizamuddin
Una/Nangal Dam-Hazoor Sahib Nanded Express (weekly) via Anandpur Sahib, Morinda, Chandigarh and Ambala
Katra-Kalka Express (bi-weekly) via Morinda
Kalka-Sai Nagar Shirdi Express (bi-weekly) via Hazrat Nizamuddin, Bhopal and Itarasi
Extension of trains
Chandigarh-Lucknow Express to Patna (2 days)
Madgaon-Hazrat Nizamuddin Express to Chandigarh
Yesvantpur-Hazrat Nizamuddin Sampark Kranti Express (2 days to Chandigarh)
Increase in frequency
Kochuveli-Chandigarh Express (1 to 2 days)
Madurai-Dehradun/Chandigarh Express (1 to 2 days)
What we got in previous years
2012: No new train was announced
2011: A weekly superfast train between Mumbai and Chandigarh and extension of Chandigarh-Jaipur Garib Rath up to Ajmer and Lucknow-Saharanpur Express to Chandigarh.
2010: Short distance Duronto train from Chandigarh to Amritsar
2009: Yamunanagar-Sadhaura-Chandigarh rail link
2008: Jaipur-Chandigarh Garib Rath