July 12, 2009 12:21:20 am
Even as three Pune MPs — Supriya Sule,Shivajirao Adhalrao Patil and Gajanan Babar — have promised to pursue with the Union Railway Minister the issue of increasing the frequency of Pune-Lonavala local trains,crestfallen activists have decided to renew their demand for locals trains from Pune to Chinchwad and back. This,the activists say,will help in having a local train every 15-20 minutes at peak morning and evening hours.
The demand was raised years back and was also discussed with the Central Railway officials. Gulam Ali Bhaldar,president of the Chinchwad Pravasi Sangh,said the idea of Pune to Chinchwad local trains was mooted because the officials of the Central Railways were consistently arguing that it was not possible to increase the frequency of Pune-Lonavala locals as either the tracks were not available or platforms were not available. The Central Railways also argued that additional local trains meant hampering the schedule of express trains and goods trains. Compounding the woes of the commuters is the fact that after the transfer of Divisional Railway Manager D K Jain,the Central Railways have again gone into a shell. Taking the first of its kind initiative,Jain had promised to start Pune to Lonavala locals every 15 minutes. But before he could live up to his promise,Jain was transferred.
To tide over the numerous problems touted by the Central Railways,it was suggested that local trains should be run at short distance of Pune to Chinchwad. “This was in keeping with the interest of commuters who have been for years seeking increase in frequency of local trains. Shorter distance means the locals trains could make frequent trips,” said Bhaldar. The Chinchwad Pravasi Sangh said running Pune to Chinchwad local trains makes lot of sense as not only frequency goes up,but this will also ensure that less number of personalised vehicles clog the roads. “A large number of people use their personal vehicles to travel from Pune,Shivajinagar,Khadki to Chinchwad and Chinchwad,Pimpri,Dapodi to Pune. This segement of the crowd which looks for faster travel to their destination would always prefer the local trains,” he said. Alleging that two-wheeler companies won’t allow this to happen,Bhaldar said the Central Railways officials should not buckle under any pressure and keep commuter interest atop their agenda.
Harsha Shah,president,Railway Pravasi Sangh,said,”Where there is a will,there is a way. The Central Railways doesn’t have the will to do anything. The officials over the years have shown little interest in alleviating the miseries of commuters.” Shah said the Pune to Chinchwad local train service is quite possible and is a good solution if the Central Railways dithers on increasing the frequency of Pune-Lonavala locals. “For the time being,they should immediately get cracking with Pune to Chinchwad local trains.” Bhaldar said once the electrification work is completed,the railways can always consider using Hadapsar as the local train destination. “Let all the express trains run from Pune station and local trains from Hadapsar,” he said. Concurring with the views,Shah said the electrification up to Daund will benefit a large number of commuters. “The railways should speedily complete the electricification work in the larger interest of the commuters. Somebody should push the railways,otherwise they won’t do it faster.” Central Railways official Y K Singh said the electrification work on the Pune-Daund section will take time for completion. He said as of now,the Central Railways has no plan before it regarding starting the Pune to Chinchwad trains. However,activists say it is no use discussing anything with the Central Railways officials. “We will request our MPs to take up the matter in Lok Sabha and with the Railway Minister,” said Bhaldar.
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