Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Train to B'lore still a mirage for Mangaloreans

Train to B'lore still a mirage for Mangaloreans
The Mangalorean

Mangalore Feb 27: In the 2005 Railway Budget, railway minister Lalu Prasad Yadav, promised Mangloreans the moon. But nothing materialised. This year, Mangloreans will be less disappointed, as he hasn't offered anything.

The 2006 budget promised three trains on the incomplete Mangalore-Hassan Broad Gauge route. Probably this was the first time in the history of the railway budget that Mangalore region was sanctioned three new trains, but none materialised. Even after a year after the announcement and the completion of the Mangalore-Hassan Broad Gauge route, the passenger train to Bangalore remains a mirage, though goods train services began way back in December last year.

Hopes were hinging on one announcement of the railway minister that the Mangalore-Shravanbelagola Passenger would start before the Mahamastabhishekha to Lord Bahubali at Shravanabelagola in February 2006. But that was not to be. The other trains that were announced on the route were the Yeshwantpur-Mangalore Express via Mysore and the Yeshwantpur-Mangalore Express via Arasikere.

Now, sources in the Office of the Commissioner for Railway Safety (CRS), Bangalore, say it may take longer, as the Chief Engineer (Construction), who is in charge of that section, has not submitted the "compliance" report. The CRS official said it is not their fault that they were not coming forward for inspection of the route, but that of the chief engineer. Regarding how much time the compliance report would take, the source said it can be prepared in a day or can be delayed by a year. "It depends upon the official." "We have not held up the passenger services between Mangalore-Bangalore in any way. The minute the compliance report reaches our desk, we will set out to inspect the tracks and certify it," the official added.

Then how come goods trains are plying on the track? The source said the CRS does not have any role as far as goods traffic is concerned, as passenger safety is not involved. "The railways themselves can run goods trains without the permission of CRS," the source observed.

In the final analysis, Lalu may have brought cheer to passengers all over the country by reducing fares, but for people in this region Lalu's budget doesn't offer much joy.

Mangaloreans Disappointed

The cuts in fares and freight in the Railway budget has not gone down well with the people here. They are sore about no mention about the status of passenger train service between Mangalore-Bangalore, which has been in the cold storage for almost a year.

Srinivas Kamath, secretary, Kanara Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), welcomed the budget for being in favour of the common man as there are no hikes. "The saddest part is there is no mention about the Bangalore train on the broad gauge route," he notes. He said the budget shows a surplus, despite cuts in train fares for travellers and freight. Kamath is glad that there will be as many as 6,000 ATMs, which will help prevent passengers hanging around in the railway stations for tickets for endless hours.

The introduction of extra bogies for both the public and goods traffic is also welcome, he said also hailing the reduction in overall travel time in certain sectors.

Giridhar Prabhu, former Chamber president, was sarcastic while saying "now that the railway minister is talking about management and money, people here also should talk in the minister's language for more funds, pointing out at the pending passenger service between Mangalore-Bangalore."


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