Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal has announced introduction of 19 new trains, extension of three existing train routes and increase in the frequency of five trains. This is in addition to 106 new superfast, express, passenger, local/suburban trains categories announced by him when he presented railway budget for 2013-14 last month.
The Minister, who was replying to the debate on the railway budget (which was approved later by the House) in the Lok Sabha, said the new trains would be: New Delhi-Thiruvananthapuram Express (weekly), Hatia-Yashvantpur Express (weekly), Jodhpur-Samdari-Bhildi passenger (daily), Mumbai-Karaikal Express (weekly) via Chennai, Nagapattnam, Nagpur-Ajmer Express (weekly) via Bhopal, Kota, Nagada, Okha-Nathdwara Express (weekly) via Dwarka, Tata-Vishakhapatnam Express (weekly), Varanasi-Shaktinagar Link Express (daily), Chhapra-Anandvihar Express (weekly) via Jagdhatri, Sharanpur Bilaspur-Bikram Express (Bi-weekly), Raipur-Jammu Tawi (weekly) via Amritsar, Durg-Chhapra Express (weekly) via Ballia, Ernakulam-Kollam MEMU via Kottayam, Tandur-Secunderabad MEMU, Yashwantpur-Secundrabad (tri-weekly). The extension of train services would be for Thiruvananthapuram-Kozhikode Jan Shatabdi up to Kannur, Shoranur-Kozhikode passenger to Thrissur and Patna-Sasaram Express to Bhabhua Road.
About the increase in the frequency of trains, he said the Indore-Pune Express would run for four days instead of three days a week. The existing weekly trains Mangalore-Kacheguda Express, Lokmanya Tilak Terminal-Kochuveli Express, Puri-Ajmer Express via Abu Road and Karimnagar-Tirupati Express would be converted into bi-weekly.
He justified the recent hike in rail fares and charges and said the cancellation fees needed to be increased in a phased manner to keep touts at bay.
His Ministry would focus on spending “limited resources” on rail safety and better services during the year and modernise stations through corporate help. The railways would require Rs. 10 lakh crore for maintenance of rolling stock and upgradation of rail infrastructure and safety requirements.
The railway budget and the demand for grants were passed by voice vote, after the Opposition parties, including the BJP, Left, Janata Dal (United), Shiv Sena, AIADMK, Trinamool Congress and BJD, walked out charging Mr. Bansal of focussing only on the Congress-ruled States for new railway lines/projects ignoring the others.