The first rail budget presented by the NDA government, which has been unanimously dubbed as disappointing for Kerala, also caused severe heartburn for the rail users in Kochi.
For, the city’s name did not feature even once while announcing the new trains by Union Railway Minister Sadananda Gowda on the floor of Parliament on Tuesday.
A large number of rail passengers at Ernakulam Junction, who remained glued to the TV sets for hours to watch the budget telecast, felt they were at the receiving end in the absence of a Union Minister from Kerala. “It seems the Railway Minister has totally neglected the two railway stations in the city, which badly needs new projects, and short-distance travellers,” said Anil Rajan, a commuter from Thrissur.
He welcomed the decision to revamp the online ticket reservation system and introduce mobile booking system.
Suja, a daily commuter from Aluva who works at a government office, also echoed a similar view and said the recent fare hike had severely affected travellers like her and said that the new government had completely belied expectations. “The move to upgrade more trains into superfast ones and pre-budget fare hike are the two most disappointing things,” she said, adding that people were forced to travel in inhuman condition in the general compartments of most of the long-distance trains. “Under such circumstances, why should one give the increased fare?” she said.
Jayakumar and Veena, a couple from Kayamkulam who travel regularly to Thrissur, said the budget failed to revive the ambitious Sabari rail project, which could have improved rail connectivity to eastern parts of the state. “The present railway Minister being a native of Karnataka, we expected better connectivity to at least Bangalore where a large number of Keralites are settled,” they said.
Shaju, a CRPF officer in Nagpur, welcomed the decision to improve Railway services. “The budget would be justified only if the railways ensured modernisation of stations, better facilities like hygienic food, safe drinking water, clean toilets and incident-free journey,” he said.
Soumya Ajith, a bank employee from Thrissur, came down heavily on the government’s disregard in improving security for lady travellers, and observed that the deployment of 4,000 security personnel additionally would be just inadequate to meet the objective.
“Safety of women passengers in Kerala and elsewhere continues to be a major cause of concern even now and the government should have given more attention to this factor.”