Sunday, February 27, 2005

Populist Laloo gives mixed signals for Karnataka track

Populist Laloo gives mixed signals for Karnataka track
New Indian Express

BANGALORE: Seven new trains, four extensions, some funds for doubling and 40 km of electrification is what the Railway Budget 2005 means for Karnataka. It has allocated Rs 183.79 crore for the State, a mere Rs 73.79 crore more than last year's budget.

An additional Shatabdi train from Bangalore to Chennai will run six days a week while a direct train will link Bangalore with Lalooji's capital Patna.

Other new trains include a Jan Shatabdi from Madgaon to Mangalore six days a week, Hubli-Chikkajajur daily passenger and Belgaum-Miraj passenger six days a week. However, no long distance trains to Varanasi, Amritsar or Jammu, as expected, have materialised.

In addition to these, there are three other trains in the pipeline, awaiting the completion of the Mangalore-Hassan gauge conversion - the Mangalore-Shravanabelagola passenger and two trains from Yeshwanthpur to Mangalore, one via Mysore and the other via Arsikere. However, a 40 km stretch, pending since the last decade, remains to be completed. The line will be operational by June this year, railway officials here assured.

Extensions have been announced for four trains in the State: The Jaipur-Bangalore Express will run upto Mysore, Kachiguda-Shantinilayam train upto Yeshwanthpur, Mysore-Thanjavur upto Kumbakonam (after gauge conversion on that section) and Sanghamitra Express from Rajendranagar, Patna, upto Bangalore City.

The budget also proposed an increase in the frequency of the Howrah-Yeshwanthpur Express from twice a week to daily, with a diversion via Tirupati. Extra coaches will be added to at least six trains, including Rajdhani, Ajmer and Ahmedabad Expresses due to increased demand.

The Railway Budget has also approved electrification of tracks in the Bangalore division. This includes Bangalore-Yeshwanthpur, Yeshwanthpur-Yelahanka, Yelahanka-Channasandra-Byappanahalli and Yelahanka-Hebbal-Byappanahalli. This will mean that trains starting from Yeswanthpur and going towards Chennai will not have to change from diesel to electric engines at Channasandra-KR Puram.

Of the total 935 km gauge conversion announced for the country, around 111 km will be in Karnataka. Rs 15 crore has been allocated for gauge conversion between Bijapur and Gadag. Survey will be taken up on the long-pending Kolar-Chikkaballapur gauge conversion and the Kotturu-Chitradurga track via Jagalur.

Funds have also been allocated for doubling of the following lines: Rs 35 crore for Yeshwanthpur-Tumkur; Rs 15 crore for Bangalore-Ramanagaram which has been completed upto Kengeri near the city.

New lines to be completed this year include the Hassan-Shravanabelagola and Bangalore-Nelamangala stretches. The minister also announced that the doubling of lines between Mangalore and Shoranur in Kerala will be expedited.

For better utilisation of line capacity, two new stations have been introduced between Yelahanka and Dharmavaram. Sufficient funds have also been allocated for safety works in the State. They include track renewal, bridge works, interlocking and signal improvement works, sources said.


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