The Chhotanagpur Passenger Association has welcomed the railway budget, lauding minister Dinesh Trivedi’s initiatives to bring the focus back on commuter safety, though the two new trains announced for the Chakradharpur railway division was not enough to satisfy the Kolhan region.
Ronald D’Costa, the president of the association that represents the interests of over 50 lakh passengers with special focus on the Kolhan region, welcomed the minister’s proposal to set up an Independent Railway Safety Authority with statutory powers.
“Our area of concern has been looked into by the railway minister. We are happy that the railway budget laid much emphasis on issues like safety, security and cleanliness,” he said.
D’Costa said they were happy to note that allocation on passenger amenities had been increased from Rs 762 crore to Rs 1,112 crore.
“Even if 25 per cent (of the proposals) is effective then passengers will be happy, vis-à-vis safety, laying of new railway tracks, conversion to broad gauge and doubling of rail tracks,” he said.
The two new trains announced for the Chakradharpur division, the highest revenue earner in South Eastern Railway (SER), were Barbil-Chakradharpur Intercity Express (daily) and Santragachi-Ajmer Express (weekly), but many among the trading community weren’t pleased.
“It is a complete setback for the Chakradharpur railway division. We were hopeful of at least two new trains from Tatanagar to Bhagalpur and Jaipur. The ones that have been introduced are not of much help,” said Suresh Sonthalia, vice-president of the Singhbhum Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI).
The Singhbhum chamber is particularly upset that its suggestion to increase frequencies of or extend a few trains were ignored.
The Adityapur Small Industries Association (ASIA) said it did not mind the fare increase if it was accompanied by visible improvement in passenger amenities. “An increase in passenger fares, though nominal, is not logical as facilities are not upto the mark. The railways should now ensure upgradation of facilities inside coaches,” said R.K. Sinha, the president of the Adityapur association.
An SER spokesperson said the date of launching the new trains would be communicated later.
The Barbil-Chakradharpur Intercity Express will travel via Dongaposi and Jhinkpani, while the Santragachi-Ajmer Express will go via Kharagpur, Chandil, Barkakana, Katni and Kota.
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