Union Minister for Railways M. Mallikarjun Kharge has said surveys have been initiated for 14 new rail routes in Karnataka. Based on the feasibility study, further steps would be taken.
Addressing a gathering before flagging off two new trains, one to Secunderabad (special train) and another to Kurla (Mumbai) from Hubli railway station here on Wednesday, Mr. Kharge said the new routes include Wadi-Gadag, Gadag-Haveri, Dharwad-Bailhongal-Belgaum, Koppal-Sindanur, Haveri-Sirsi, Bijapur-Athani and others.
Referring to the increased allocations to South Western Railway, Mr. Kharge said allocations had almost doubled after he became the Railway Minister and the State government has to release the matching grant of Rs. 650 crore for the railway projects being taken up on a cost-sharing basis.
Mr. Kharge said the State government had released Rs. 92 crore and it must release the remaining amount do that the project works can go ahead. Referring to a newspaper report that Mr. Kharge had expressed displeasure over the State government delaying the release of funds for the projects, he said the State government was also extending necessary cooperation in executing the projects and the railway projects were such that everyone had to contribute their might for its implementation.
He said 14,659 acres of land was required for railway projects in Karnataka and the State government had made available 3,899 acres. “The Chief Minister has convened a meeting with the SWR officials in Bangalore on Thursday to expedite the projects. I have directed all SWR officials to participate in the meeting and sort out pending issues,” he said.
Referring to various demands of the earlier speakers at the gathering, Mr. Kharge said as of now there are several railway projects which require to be taken up in Karnataka, but there was a need to prioritise them so that more people get the benefits. Mr. Kharge appealed to the elected representatives to come out with details on which railway projects to be taken up on priority and he would try to give justice it.
He said nearly Rs. 35 crore to Rs. 40 crore was required for running a new train. He said the Indian Railways was facing a revenue deficit of nearly Rs. 25,000 crore for running 19,000 train services in the country. He appealed to railway employees and passengers to ensure the survival of the railways, which was now meeting the revenue deficit through its freight services.
Mr. Kharge, accompanied by several dignitaries, operated the lever fitted on the stage to switch on the green signal at the Hubli railway station to flag off the Hubli-Secunderabad Tri-weekly Special and Hubli-Lokamanya Tilak Terminus (Kurla) Weekly Express.