Industry sees red; passenger groups say budget silent on improving facilities

“Happy, but…” was how many consumer organisations of the city reacted to Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal’s budget for 2013-14 on presented on Tuesday. Top of the grievance list was not announcing the much-demanded Division status for Mangalore.

Industry body Kanara Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) said the budget dashed all its hopes. “There is nothing for Mangalore,” Mohammed Ameen, president of KCCI, said.

But Mr. Bansal did pull out some goodies from the bag for Mangalore. He announced a new intercity daily express train between Mangalore and Madagon via Karwar, increasing the connectivity between Mangalore and Goa. He also announced a weekly express train between Mangalore and Bangalore.

The other weekly express train announced is between Mangalore and Kacheguda. Mr. Bansal said that the weekly (every Saturday) Mangalore-Tiruchchirappalli (12653/ 12654) Express train would be extended to Puducherry.

The Minister said Railways would set up a training centre in Mangalore to impart railway-related skills to the youths. It is part of the 25 such centres proposed in the country under the National Skill Development Programme.

The budget also proposed to introduce DEMU services (connecting two towns) between Bhatkal and Thokur. Another DEMU service has been proposed between Madgaon and Karwar.

The Minister said that a third railway line between the busy Shoranur Junction (in Kerala) and Mangalore Junction would be laid.

Dinesh K. Bhat, Convenor of Railway Yatri Sangha, Puttur, said, “We are happy with the announcements. But considering the high passenger traffic and high freight revenue in Mangalore region, the proposals are not enough.” The Railways had been slow in doubling the track between the Netravathi Bridge and Mangalore Central route and between Panambur station and Mangalore Junction. Mangalore was yet to get the much-desired Division status, he said.

Rajeev Gaonkar Hiregutti, of the West Coast Rail Yatri Development Committee, Karwar, said the budget was silent on improving facilities in the coastal region.

Convenor of Mangalore Railway Development Action Committee P.V. Mohan said the budget paved the way for grant of Divisional status for Mangalore.

Keywords: Railways budget

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