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Hopes derailed: interim budget fails to deliver on promises

The interim railway budget yielded precious little for the city with no new trains from Pune being announced.

Written by Express News Service | Pune |
February 14, 2009 1:31:04 am

The interim railway budget yielded precious little for the city with no new trains from Pune being announced. The sole reprieve was the proposed increase in carriage space as Pune division has seen a nine per cent increase in passenger traffic in the last nine months,with people moving from air travel to trains.

There were two Pune-specific announcements by Union Rail Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav: the Pune-Patna express that ran four times a week will now run daily; the new Kolhapur-Dhanbad weekly train will also pass through Pune.

Puneites are not impressed by the two per cent cut in fares,seeing it in the context of the rise in airfares. Pune airport director G Chandramouli said this year traffic from Lohegaon has seen no increase since the previous year. “Traffic has been hampered by the recession and increasing airfares,” he said.

Pune divisional railway manager D K Jain said the passenger rail traffic has grown nine per cent this fiscal. Pune station sees around 1 lakh passengers every day – both short and long distance. “Now we can accommodate more passengers by increasing coaches or seats,” said Jain. “Demand is actually up 20 per cent but we are managing to accommodate only nine per cent of it,” he said.

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Among the major disappointments was the Pune-New Delhi superfast express that the minister had announced in the last railway budget and was to be in place for the Commonwealth Youth Games last October. Pune MP Suresh Kalmadi had then promised that the train would be made permanent. That has not happened.

Pune Pravasi Sangh president Kanubhai Trivedi blasted Kalmadi: “Last month,Narayanbhai Rathawa,Minister of State for Railways,had said the proposal for the Pune-New Delhi train had been given the green signal with only the final approval signature from the Rail Minister pending. What is the local MP doing?”

Hemant Tapale,president of the Pune-Mumbai Railway Pravasi Sangh said the Railway Minister had only taken care of Bihar. “At least the Pune-Delhi train should have come through,” he said. The association has also been calling for an increase in the frequency of trains to Mumbai.

Equally disappointed are Keralites whose longstanding demand for daily connectivity to Thiruvananthapuram has once again fallen flat. The two trains (for New Delhi and Thiruvananthapuram) figured prominently in the Pune Railway Division’s annual proposal sent to the ministry before the rail budget this year.

“We had sent a proposal for extending the existing Pune- Ernakulam Express to Thiruvananthapuram and for increasing its frequency to twice a week,” said Jain.

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