February 14, 2009 2:47:39 am
No new train : No new rail link : Chandigarh-Ambala and Rajpura-Patiala routes not to be double-tracked : Only good news: Ludhiana-Kolkata freight corridor announced
Railways Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav did not have much for Chandigarh and the region in the interim budget presented by him on Friday. He announced 43 new trains to be started in 2009-10,extension of 14 trains and increased frequency of 14 trains,but none were for the region. The much expected proposal to double-track the Ambala-Chandigarh route was missed out from the vote-on-account for expenses in the first four months of the next fiscal. The Ambala Divisions proposal to make the Rajpura-Patiala route double-tracked,too,met the same fate.
Regularisation of the Chandigarh-Dibrugarh Town special weekly train introduced on trial basis in September last year was the only city-specific announcement in this years interim budget. It will be a regular train from March 5. In addition,a dedicated freight corridor from Ludhiana to Kolkata will be inaugurated later this month by Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
In view of the economic slowdown,the reduction of 2 per cent in the fares above Rs 50 in second class and sleeper class of all mail and express trains may come as some relief to the passengers. There will also be a reduction of Re 1 in the fares of ordinary passenger trains on tickets costing up to Rs 50 for journey above 10 km. The fares of AC first class,AC two tier,AC three tier and AC chair car are also down by two per cent. No change was,however,announced in the freight rates.
The journey between Chandigarh and Delhi may soon take much less time with the Railways planning to introduce bullet trains. Lalu highlighted the ongoing feasibility study of running bullet trains on the six high-speed corridors-Delhi-Chandigarh-Amritsar,Ahmedabad-Pune,Hyderbada-Vijaywada-Chennai,Chennai-Bangalore,Kolkata-Haldia and Ernakulam-Howrah. The minister had recently paid visits to Japan,Germany and France,where these bullet trains run at a speed of 300 to 350 km per hour. He said the project would be on fast track,adding that soon a pre-feasibility study would start to run bullet trains between Delhi and Patna.
* Railways to invest Rs 2.3 lakh crore over next 5 years
* Wagon production to be hiked from 6,600 to 15,000 per year
* Four railway enquiry call centres set up
Accidents down from 325 to 194 in 5 years
* Electrification of 1,000 km of tracks completed in 2008-09
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