Say previous Railway Budget promises unfulfilled

The interim Railway Budget presented by Union Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge on Monday seems to have failed to catch even the attention of regular rail users, if the reactions of commuters at the Thampanoor railway station are anything to go by.

While some reacted with ‘No comments,’ others gave a resigned shrug. The ones who chose to react had only negative comments to share.

“Even full budgets rarely take the wishes of Kerala rail users into consideration. So what is the point in such a shortened budget?” asked Jayendran Nair, a teacher at a school here, who commutes by train regularly from Varkala.

The commuters pointed out that many of the announcements from the previous years were yet to become a reality.

“Many major announcements, including the coach factory, have remained on paper. There was a major shunting accident involving old compartments at the Kochuveli railway station, and Transport Minister Aryadan Mohammed even said in the Assembly that most of our coaches are old. Still, there was no positive step from the Railways to bring in new coaches,” S. Jaya, a government employee, said.

Though one new train was announced on the Thiruvananthapuram-Bangalore route, regular travellers were unhappy with the budget.

“The Thiruvananthapuram-Bangalore route is one of the most profitable for Indian Railways, and it is a mystery that there is less number of trains on this route. Even the Kochuveli Express, which runs at convenient timings, was made regular only after years of sustained pressure. The influence of the bus lobby cannot be ruled out. The lack of trains gives the lobby the freedom to drive up prices sky high,” V.R. Aravind, who works in a private sector bank in Bangalore, said.

He said the new “premium train” looked like a novel way to charge more from the passengers.

The only positive of the budget for rail users seems to be the proposal to shift towards more ‘bio-toilets.’

“The toilets are in a bad condition on most of the trains. Many of them lack even mugs, and are unclean. Shifting to bio-toilets could be a step in the right direction,” Ajayan, a student, said.