Marathwada Rail activists fume over continuing ignorance of their demands

AURANGABAD: Railway activists are up in arms against the authorities concerned for continuing to ignore their demands such as better connectivity and infrastructure, special trains during vacations and new rail lines.

Although their demands have fallen on deaf ears, the activists are optimistic that Marathwada in particular and Aurangabad in general will get a better deal during the next railway budget.

Omprakash Varma of Marathwada Railway Vikas Samiti said the South Central Railway (SCR) authorities have been ignoring the demand for better connectivity mainly because of lack of political will.

“Constant pressure from public representatives can only ensure that the demand for new trains will be met. Otherwise, Aurangabad, which is the tourists capital of Maharashtra and a major industrial hub, will have to suffer continuously due to poor connectivity,” he said.

Senior authorities from the SCR had in March this year informally announced a new train to Mumbai via Aurangabad, followed by a hint from the then railway minister Suresh Prabhu during his Marathwada visit in June.

While no plans of new train to Mumbai could materialise for several weeks following the promises, SCR general manager Vinod Kumar Yadav on September 28 announced extension to Manmad-Mumbai superfast train up to Nanded via Aurangabad in a bid to increase train frequency to the state capital.

Known as Rajya Rani Superfast Express, the train (22101/22102), however, continues to run on weekdays on its old route between Manmad and Mumbai with no desired extension given despite lapse of more than a month.

Aurangabad currently has only one daily train to Nagpur and many passengers find its timing inconvenient. The demand for new train starting from Aurangabad at 8 pm and reaching Nagpur in12 hours has been also been ignored. Similarly, the demand for a new train to Pune has not been getting official attention for years now.

Rajkumar Somani of Marathwada Railway Pravasi Sena said that even if there is a big demand for a daily train to Pune from Aurangabad, no new train gets pressed into service.

“Over 500 buses, including private vehicles, ply between Aurangabad and Pune daily. Such huge number of private buses underlines the need for need for a new train service. Similar is the case with Nagpur as considerable number of private buses ply between Aurangabad and that city every day,” he said.

A survey for rail line on Rotegaon-Kopargaon, Aurangabad-Sillod-Ajintha, Ambejogai-Kaij-Kalamb-Yermala and Pathri-Manwat-Sonpeth has been repeatedly demanded by railway activists.

As regards to infrastructure, official work has not yet started on the proposed pit-line at Chikalthana, while the demand for coach factory at Purna in Parbhani district has been ignored so far.

Increasing the frequency of Kolhapur-Dhanbad Deekshabhoomi Express passing via Aurangabad, Hyderabad- Jaipur and Chennai-Nagarsol among other long-distance trains is also yet to be done.

Eight out of 11 MPs had turned their back on crucial railway meet organised by the SCR to discuss the rail connectivity needs of Marathwada on May 12

Officials from the Traffic and Operating Departments of Nanded Division of SCR said the SCR and other Zonal Railways always focus on passenger-centric functioning. Capacity constraints in Mumbai CST & Churchgate could be the reason for not able to run additional trains between Aurangabad and Mumbai, which could be resolved over a period of time.

“Concerned Divisions of CR & WR in Mumbai are taking necessary steps to increase the line capacities in Mumbai which could turn around the situation in the days to come,” they added.