Direct train to Rewa only solace, nothing concrete for Vidarbha

Nagpur (NGP): The centrally located city managed to figure in the interim railway budget by getting a new weekly train to Rewa in Madhya Pradesh, besides three passing trains including two premium ones. However, long-pending demands for a direct train to Howrah, Bangalore and Delhi continue to remain unfulfilled.

Of the 17 new premium trains announced by railway minister Mallikarjun Kharge, two express trains (AC) – Howrah-Pune and Mumbai-Howrah (bi-weekly) – will pass through Nagpur. Besides, another new weekly Yeshwantpur-Katra will pass through the city.

The announcement of Nagpur-Rewa Express (weekly) via Satna seems to have come out of the blues. “We had not sent a proposal for the train,” said OP Singh, Central Railway Divisional Railway Manager (DRM).

Congress MP Vilas Muttemwar said he had written to Kharge on September 18, 2013 to start a train to Rewa after series of delegations called on him. “In October, Kharge responded positively. Nagpur being part of erstwhile CP & Berar, many in MP still have their roots here. Besides, many patients from MP visit Nagpur for medical treatment and hence a new train was need of the hour,” he told.

Basant Shukla, secretary of rail users body Bharatiya Yatri Kendra (BYK), said being an interim budget, not many new projects were announced. “The train to Katra will benefit devotees going on a pilgrimage to Vaishnodevi in Jammu & Kashmir from here. Till now, people had to take another train from Delhi,” Shukla pointed out.

However, Jagdish Joshi of Rail Yatri Sangh said that most of the old promises were left unfulfilled. Many new trains were announced keeping an eye on Lok Sabha elections. “Even as decisions on trains announced earlier were not honoured, new ones have been promised,” Joshi added.

Divisional Railway Users Consultative Committee (DRUCC) member Pravin Dabli pointed out that popular demand for a direct train to Delhi, Howrah and Bangalore have been ignored once again. Frequency and extension of several trains as proposed, was not announced. Dabli added that despite potential, no MEMU & DEMU trains were announced for busy short distance routes.

“Despite Nagpur being the second capital of the state, it is being given step-motherly treatment. The city just manages to remain connected with the passing trains which take a halt here. Unless Nagpur is not reorganized as a zone, the region will not get justice,” Shukla said.

Besides this, the budget has no mention about the survey to be conducted for 19 new lines in 2014-15. It has mention about the Betul – Chandur Bazaar-Amravati route which is already connected via Narkhed.

Confusion prevailed as DRM Singh too said he was not aware about the new line as no proposal was moved from his office. “Such surveys are done by other railway departments,” Singh added.

Denying injustice being done to the region, Singh pointed out that after a new potline at Ajni, Nagpur has been getting new trains every year. “This financial year, the city got Nagpur-Ajmer and Ajni-LTT Express and prior to that came the Nagpur-Secundrabad train,” he added.

National Railway Mazdoor Union (NRMU) leader Habib Khan said Kharge increased freight target by 49.7 mt from present 1052 mt. “While doing this, safety is being compromised by not upgrading the tracks,” Khan said.