KARNATAKA

Nitish Kumar promises new Bangalore-Delhi train

BANGALORE Nov. 22. The next Railway Budget will provide for a new Bangalore-Delhi daily train, the Railway Minister, Nitish Kumar, said here on Sunday.

He said this at the inaugural run of the Bangalore-Hubli "Jan Shatabdi" Express at the Bangalore Railway Station.

Mr. Kumar's statement was prompted by requests to that effect by the MPs, K.Rehman Khan and C.K. Jaffer Sharief, who is also a former Railway Minister.

They pointed out that the Karnataka and Rajdhani express trains plying between Bangalore and New Delhi, could not cope with the demand. At this, the Union Minister for Urban Development and Poverty Alleviation, H.N.Ananth Kumar, said that the Rajdhani Express, which runs four times a week, could run every day.

"The new train will be for the common people," Mr. Kumar said, and added that a Bangalore-Ranchi train would also be introduced soon.

The Minister of State for Railways, Bandaru Dattatraya, said that the Hubli zonal office of the Southern Railway would become operational from April next.

He said the Railways wanted to link heritage sites in the South. "The Chief Minister, S.M.Krishna, has joined hands with the Railways on projects, and other chief ministers too should do that to develop infrastructure," he said.

He said that 315 railway stations in the country, including Bangalore, Mysore, Bellary, Hubli, Hospet, Raichur, Gulbarga, and Toranagallu, would be made "model stations" under a Rs. 200-crore project.

As part of the "Passenger Amenities Year," the Railways had a Rs. 10 crore "Rail Neer" project to sell bottled water at model stations.

Two pilot projects at Patna and Delhi stations would be ready by January next. Mr. Kumar said a Yeshwanthpur-Durg (near Bhilai) weekly express would be launched in 15 days.

Earlier, Mr. Krishna echoed the demand of Mr. Rehman Khan and Mr. Sharief for a daily Bangalore-Delhi train.

He said HUDCO was providing funds to the Karnataka Railway Infrastructure Development Corporation for laying new lines. To build railway underbridges (RUBs) and overbridges (ROBs), the State would form a "special purpose vehicle" (SPV), he said.

He hoped that HUDCO and the Railway Ministry would partner the State in the SPV. In response, Mr. Kumar made an "open offer" to Mr. Krishna.

"No matter how many ROB proposals you give us, we will meet 50 per cent of the cost. We will make and finance the bridge portion of the project," Mr. Kumar added.

The General Manager, Southern Railway, V Anand, the Chairman, Railway Board, Rana, and the Opposition leader in the Legislative Assembly, Jagadish Shettar, spoke.

The Bangalore-Hubli "Jan Shatabdi" is the 14th Jan Shatabdi train launched in the past seven months.

Two more will be inaugurated in the next few weeks.

The train leaves Bangalore at 6 a.m. and reaches Hubli at 1 p.m. after passing through Tumkur (7.05 a.m.), Arsikere (8.25 a.m.), Birur (9.05 a.m.), Chikjalur (10 a.m.) Davangere (10.37 a.m.), and Harihar (10.52 a.m.).

The trains leaves Hubli at 1.30 p.m. to reach Bangalore at 8.30 p.m.

The fare to Hubli is Rs. 555 (AC chair car) and Rs. 187 (second class).

The train runs every day except Tuesday.