Kharge went beyond the 2013-14 budget to get new trains, projects

Erstwhile Minister for Railways M. Mallikarjuna Kharge, who went beyond the 2013-14 Railway Budget promises and got several new trains and projects for Karnataka, has set a high standard which is hard to be ignored by his successor D.V. Sadananda Gowda while presenting the 2014-15 Budget on Tuesday.

Expectations are high on Mr. Gowda since the State, said to have been ignored by successive Railway Ministers, has got the Railway portfolio two times in a row. Besides addressing issues of modernisation, safety and private participation in the Railways, Mr. Gowda is under severe pressure to ‘do good’ for his state and the region (coastal Karnataka).

Mr. Kharge, who took over the Railway portfolio on June 17, 2013, was able to ensure that all new trains announced in the budget (nine express, two passenger and two DEMU trains) were operational before the Lok Sabha elections were announced. He also got extension of eight trains and increase in frequency of two trains done by that time. The eminent parliamentarian also speeded up completion of several ongoing new line projects, including Kadur-Chikmaglur; Kottur-Harihar; Bidar-Humnabad; Raichur-Gadwal and Chikkaballapur-Kolar, and opened them for rail traffic.

Going beyond the budget, Mr. Kharge announced the creation of Gulbarga Railway Division — a long standing demand of the region, besides getting a Rail Coach factory for Yadgir.

New trains

As a prelude to commence suburban train services in Bangalore, he announced maintenance shed at Banaswadi for Mainline Electrical Multiple Unit (MEMU) trains, used for suburban operations. Pit-lines, meant for maintenance of train rakes, were sanctioned for Gulbarga and Bidar (Kanapur), enabling both the stations to handle originating trains.

Mr. Kharge also introduced six new trains that were not announced in the budget. They are: Bidar-Yeshwantpur tri-weekly; Hubli-Secunderabad tri-weekly; Chickmaglur-Shimoga passenger; Bangalore-Tumkur passenger, and Bidar-Humnabad passenger. He also made Solapur-Yeshwantpur tri-weekly to run daily.

Since Mr. Kharge had made a beginning to introduce suburban rail service for Bangalore, a decades-old demand, by sanctioning MEMU Shed and getting Binny Mill land, it is expected that Mr. Gowda would take the proposal to its logical end. The State government has already formed a suburban rail corporation as a special purpose vehicle to execute the mission.

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