Interim rail budget sanctions only three trains

Kerala’s hopes of a better deal in the interim Railway Budget have been dashed with Union Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge ignoring the State’s priorities such as the coach factory at Kanjikode and sanctioning only three trains, including a premium biweekly train from Thiruvananthapuram to Bangalore Yeshwantpur. A passenger train will run daily from Punalur to Kanyakumari via Thiruvananthapuram. The third train, a biweekly Thiruvananthapuram-Nizamuddin Express via Kottayam and Alappuzha, figured in the last Railway Budget and had failed to take off, despite making it in the timetable schedule.

The State does not figure on the list of four Mainline Electric Multiple Units (MEMU) and three Diesel Electric Multiple Unit (DEMU) services, increase in the frequency of three trains, survey for 19 new railway lines, and doubling of five stretches announced by Mr. Kharge.

The State was given a meagre allocation of Rs.216.83 crore, and a poor deal in terms of new projects and trains in the 2013-14 budget as well. Three trains and an increase in the frequency of the 12217/12218 Sampark Kranti Express from Kochuveli to Chandigarh remain on paper even after 11 months of their announcement.

Coach factory

While the rail coach factory in Palakkad and the wagon-making unit in Alappuzha did not find mention in the speech, Mr. Kharge said the rail wheel plant at Chhapra, rail coach factory at Rae Bareli, and the Diesel Component Factory at Dankuni had become functional and started production.

This irked the Opposition MPs from the State, and M.B. Rajesh, MP, from Palakkad, trooped to the well of the House to register his protest.

Protest from State

Minister for Railways Aryadan Mohammed said the budget was a disappointment for the State.

Besides disappointing Kerala, the budget is not SMART (specific, measurable, action oriented, realistic and time-bound), a top Railway official told The Hindu.

More In: Kerala | National