New Delhi: Deploring its casual approach in repairing rail lines, a parliamentary panel has asked railways to speed up gauge conversion work of 225 km long track in Maharashtra, saying the delay has led to escalation of cost of the project and is affecting train services.
The gauge conversion of Yawatmal-Murtizar (113 km), Achalpur-Murtizapur (77 km) and Pulgaon-Arvi (35 km) lines in Maharashtra are pending and unattended for decades.
Presently, these sections of rail lines are owned by a private company, Central Provinces Railway Company, and operated by the Central Railway.
The Committee on Petitions headed by Shiv Sena MP Anant Geete in its report deplored the casual approach of railways in executing the gauge conversion project.
“The project is estimated to cost Rs. 1554 crores. The inordinate delay has further resulted into escalation of cost of the project as it has already escalated 300 per cent in a decade time,” the report said.
The committee observed that due to poor maintenance by the private owner, the trains in these sections run at average speed of 16-17 km per hour. The areas adjoining the lines have immense potential to grow but for want of transportation it is not happening, it said.
The committee asked the Railway Ministry to forward the updated survey report of the rail lines without any further delay to Maharashtra for their consideration and also place the project for the approval of the Planning Commission so that the work of gauge conversion of these lines can be undertaken on top priority.
The committee noted that train service on these lines is frequently affected by the poor condition and non-maintenance of the tracks.
As a result, the people living in these areas are facing hardship and frequent stoppage of this train also impedes the overall growth of the region, it said.
Pending decision on the issue of gauge conversion, the panel strongly emphasised that railways should take all initiative for repair of the lines so as to ensure safe and uninterrupted running of trains.
The committee said that the smooth running of trains would give much needed impetus to the economy of these places and regions.