While M. Mallikarjun Kharge, during his short stint as the Railway Minister, delivered a lot to Karnataka, hopes are high on incumbent D.V. Sadananda Gowda, considering that he is expected to have a longer tenure.
Mr. Kharge, who took charge of the Ministry on June 17, 2013, ensured that many ongoing projects got fast-forwarded and introduced six new trains that were not announced in the budget presented by his predecessor. He announced the creation of the Gulbarga Railway Division and got rail coach factories sanctioned for Yadgir and Kolar.
People expect Mr. Gowda, who represents Bangalore North and hails from Dakshina Kannada, to balance the interests and demands of all the regions in the State, including the demands to provide suburban railway system for Bangalore, creation of Mangalore division and merging it with Konkan Railway, and construction of additional branch lines to connect Karnataka with the rest of the country as presently only a few trunk lines — Bangalore–Guntakal, Bangalore–Hubli and Bangalore–Jolarpettai — are functional.Poor network
A senior Railway official told The Hindu that though eight of the 40 Railway Ministers so far were from Karnataka, the State had the least railway network. Karnataka had to depend on just two trunk lines for connectivity to north India — Bangalore–Guntakal and Bangalore–Hubli lines — which too were single track and oversaturated. Construction of new trunk routes or at least branch lines was the need of the hour, he said. Lack of railway connectivity to Kodagu was an issue to be addressed, he added.
Sanjeev Dyamannavar of praja.in , a portal that aims to be a networking platform for active and concerned citizens, said Karnataka had just about 12 per cent double lines against over 73 per cent in West Bengal. He said that doubling of the trunk lines, creation of the Mangalore division, speedy completion of the Bangalore-Hassan new line along with several other new lines announced in the previous budgets, world-class stations at Bangalore City and Mangalore Central and suburban rail system for Bangalore were some of the issues to be addressed by Mr. Gowda.
K.N. Krishna Prasad, a retired Central government officer, said Karnataka should get high-speed trains connecting other parts of the country. Prakash Mandoth, member of the South Western Railway’s Zonal Rail Users Consultative Committee, wants the new Minister to introduce more trains connecting important towns in the State as well as other parts of the country, including high-speed train between Bangalore and Mumbai via Hubli.