TRAINS OLD AND NEW: Garib Rath launched,Commonwealth Youth Games Spl set for rebirth
The Pune-Delhi train that ran briefly during the Commonwealth Youth Games will commence again by February-end,and this time it will be permanent,said Union Minister of State for Railways Narayan Rathawa. He was in the city for the inaugural run of the Pune-Nagpur Garib Rath.
It is in the last stage of being finalised; we are waiting for a signature from Union Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav. We will try and schedule it during the rail budgets vote on account that will be held between February 16 and February 20. We ought to be able to start the train by February-end, said Rathawa.
At present,there are only three trains to Delhi the Kolhapur-Nizamuddin Express,the Goa Express and the Jhelum Express. All these trains pass through Pune at odd times or take too long to reach their destination.
Several other problems and initiatives associated with the Pune division were also discussed during the inaugural run of the Garib Rath. Pune will still have to wait for a few years for the high-speed stretch of the Ahmedabad-Mumbai-Pune corridor to materialise. Rathawa said four corridors had been identified but they were still at the discussion stage. At present,studies are still being conducted and we are collaborating with France and Japan, he said.
The other corridors are Mumbai-Chennai,Delhi-Amritsar and Delhi-Agra Cantontment. We are figuring out the occupancy and the fares have to be less than flight fares, Rathawa added.
Suresh Kalmadi,Congress MP and former Railway Minister,said as Pune was turning into a global city,it was imperative that it was better connected with other parts of the country by rail. I have got many petitions asking for improved connectivity especially to Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi. We need to ensure that more trains are connected from Pune, he said.
Rathawa said that the security at railway stations was in the process of being improved. The Railway Board has sanctioned 1,000 rifles of the latest technology for the state, he said.
The Pune division has also been struggling with encroachment of railway property; slums have been in existence for over 45 years now,but recently the division had sent an eviction notice to the slum dwellers. Both Mayor Rajalaxmi Bhosale and MLA Kamal Dhole Patil called upon Pune division to rehabilitate these slum dwellers near Ghorpodi,before reclaiming the land. The railways own thousands of acres,they can surely spare a few acres to rehabilitate these poor people, Patil said.
Rathawa said it was not railway policy to undertake rehabilitation on railway land. Our first priority,for railway fallow land,is to give it to the state government. In this case,as it has been brought to our notice,we will discuss the matter with the PMC and the state government, he said.
Meanwhile,consumer organisations have expressed disappointment that the Pune-Nagpur Garib Rath would not be stopping at the pilgrim spot at Shehgaon. There can be a stop between Akola and Badanera. At present,people have to go to Mumbai and take Vidarbha-bound trains, said Hemant Tapale,president of Mumbai Pune Railway Pravasi Sangh.
The Garib Rath will depart on Mondays,Wednesdays and Fridays at 5.40 pm and reach Nagpur the next day at 9.25 am. It will cost commuters Rs 548 for an A/C-III berth ,as against Rs 896 on other Nagpur-bound trains.