Introduction of bullet trains sought by various bodies

Trade bodies have expressed disappointment over the announcement of only one train for southern districts in the Railway Budget presented in the Parliament on Tuesday. However, the bodies have welcomed various new passenger-friendly initiatives in the budget.

The Agrofood (India) Chamber of Commerce and Industry termed the railway budget as “growth-oriented and highly-ambitious budget balancing commercial and social obligations.”

In a statement its president, S. Rethinavelu, welcomed the IT initiatives such as proliferation of cash accepting Automatic Ticket Vending Machines; e-booking facility for 7,700 tickets per minute; online booking of retiring rooms and meals; introduction of e-forwarding note and electronic transmission of railway receipts for freight customers and introduction wi-fi facility in select trains.

Strategic change

The chamber also welcomed the strategic change of seeking cabinet approval for foreign direct investment in railways which will go a long way in getting world class infrastructures at the earliest. It is praise worthy introducing temperature controlled storage and transportation of vegetables, fruits and milk in the new policy on parcels.

The statement, however, said that it is disappointing that excluding Madurai-Jaipur Premium Express, no other trains were announced for Southern Tamil Nadu, which has less direct train facility to Northern and North Eastern regions of the country. The extension of Jodhpur-Chennai express to Madurai, Bikanir–Coimbatore express to Madurai and Tiruchirapalli–Mangalore express to Madurai were sadly neglected.

Hopeful of funds

The Tamil Nadu Chamber of Commerce and Industry has expressed hope that sufficient allotment of funds would be made for completing doubling of the track between Chengalpet-Villupuram, Villupuram-Dindigul and Madurai-Kanyakumari Section of the doubling project. This section is the busiest and most congested.

The thrust to be given to mobilize more resources for Railways through leveraging Railway PSU resources, Private Investment in Rail Infrastructures through Domestic and Foreign Direct Investment and Public Private Partnership is laudable, its president, N. Jegatheesan, said in a statement. It also welcomed the proposal to embark on an ambitious plan to have a Diamond Quadrilateral Network of High Speed Rail connecting major Metros and growth centres of the country.

Southern Railway Mazdoor Union has expressed disappointment over lack of announcement on filling up of lot of vacancies in the posts of loco pilots, station masters, guards, track maintainer and mechanical coach maintenance staff.

Announcement of new trains without additional employees will increase workload on the workers and put safety of train journey in peril.

The Minister not making any mention on exempting railway employees from the purview of New Pension Scheme on par with defence personnel was causing resentment among the railway employees, the union assistant divisional secretary, V. Ramkumar said.

Disappointment

The railway budget disappointed the people of southern districts by not allocating sufficient funds for the ongoing gauge conversion projects, said the executive trustee of Consortium of Consumer Justice, K. Muthiah.

While the Government was introducing bullet trains, it was pathetic that superfast trains were taking more than 12 hours to cross 650 km.

On allowing internet booking of unreserved tickets, he said the railways was only keen on selling tickets, but not providing decent accommodation to passengers.

Tamil Nadu Food Grains and Merchants Association has welcomed the budget presented.

In a press release, S.P. Jeyapragasam, president of the association has welcomed the announcements that quality food will be provided, toilets will be modernised, milk tankers will be introduced and several others. However, it has expressed distress that no new trains were announced for Tamil Nadu.

Madurai District Tiny and Small Scale Industries Association has welcomed the budget.

In a press release, V.S. Manimaran, president of the association, has said that announcements such as allocation of Rs.41,000 crore for line doubling projects, solar power utilisation and mobile based wake up call service are welcomed.

It has urged the Union Government to introduce bullet trains from Chennai-Bengaluru, Chennai-Madurai and Chennai to Coimbatore.

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