Four Pune Lok Sabha MPs — three of who are re-contesting elections, have drawn flak from railway commuters for doing little to improve railway facilities and the movement of trains from Pune. Of the four sitting MPs, Anil Shirole, who was elected from the Pune Lok Sabha seat, has been denied a ticket by the BJP. The other three MPs who are once again in the fray include Supriya Sule of NCP, who is contesting from Baramati, Shivajirao Adhalrao-Patil of Shiv Sena, who is contesting from Shirur constituency and Shrirang Barne, who is contesting from the Maval Lok Sabha seat.
Criticising all the four MPs for taking no initiative to improve train traffic and facilities, Harsha Shah, who heads the Railway Pravasi Group, said, “The Railway Ministry had promised to make Pune railway station into a world-class station. It meant improving facilities and increasing train services as per international norms. It meant overall improvement like adequate parking facilities, increase in the number of platforms, availability of quality food and provision of yatri niwas.” But Shah said the Railway Minister allegedly forgot to do anything on this count and the four MPs also allegedly failed to raise their voice in the Parliament.
Shah said the electrification of Pune-Daund has been completed but the demand for Lonavala-Pune-Daund-Bigwan local train service remains on paper. Similarly, she said, the requests of commuters for Lonavala-Pune-Daund-Nagar, Lonavala-Pune-Satara, Lonavala-Pune-Satara-Lonand-Phaltan and Nagar-Pune-Satara local train services also were not fulfilled.
“These demands should have been pushed by MPs. It was the duty of the MPs to raise the demands as well as pursue them with the railway ministry, but apparently, they did nothing. If they did anything, they should tell Pune residents what exactly they did,” she said.
The Railway Pravasi Group said it has been pressing the railways to set up a Pune Zone, but the government has not responded. “Pune has a railway division, but not a zone. Zone means Pune would get a general manager, like Mumbai. The general manager has more powers and could have played an important role in the development of the Pune railway network,” she said.
Shah said the rush of commuters at Pune railway station to head for places like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Kerala is too much. “It calls for increasing the frequency of trains to these destinations. But these issues were never tackled seriously by sitting MPs,” she said. Pune, she said, needed high speed trains and replacement of old trains with new ones. “Pune’s favourite Deccan Queen needs a dining car. We need a train like Vande Mataram train,” said Shah.