Rail budget fails to cheer Mumbaikars

Mumbai : Barring a proposal to provide 864 new state-of-the-art electric multiple unit (EMU) trains over the next two years, there was little to cheer about in the the NDA government’s maiden rail budget for Mumbei’s much-harried seven millon-plus daily suburban train commuters.

Since the Mumbai suburban railways have already completed the conversion of traction from 1500 volts DC to 25 KV AC (currents), the new EMUs would help improve the operational efficiency and simultaneously reduce costs, rail officials said.

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Regarding the pilot project for automatic closing of doors before the trains move on the mainline and suburban sections, there were few takers for the proposal.

“During the morning and evening peak hours, commuters are forced to hang on the footboards. If the doors are shut automatically, many will be left behind. What about the reduced ventilation and increased suffocation inside?” fumed S.V. Kiran, a woman commuter from Bhayander to Mahalaxmi.

The budget proposed foot-over bridges, escalators and lifts at all major stations.

In Mumbai, a few suburban stations have already installed escalators at the main entrance, but there is a demand to install them on all platforms and at all entry points.

“Now, the escalators have very limited utility and are used mainly by senior citizens. They must take it up on priority for all stations and all platforms on the suburban section,” urged daily commuter Raju Shah.

The proposal to consider a bullet train between Mumbai and Ahmedabad was met with only partial support, with many people feeling that instead of diverting valuable resources on such expensive trains, the railways must consider providing air-conditioned suburban trains.

The budget provided new Jansadharan Rxpresses on Jaynagar-Mumbai, Mumbai-Gorakhpur sectors, Mumbai-New Delhi Premium AC Express, weekly airconditioned expresses on Lokmanya Tilak Terminus-Lucknow, Nagpur-Pune, Nagpur-Amritsar and Nizamuddin-Pune routes.

Seven weekly express trains were proposed between Bandra Terminus-Jaipur via Nagda-Kota, Bidar-Mumbai, Hapa-Bilaspur via Nagpur, Nanded-Bikaner, LTT-Azamgarh and Mumbai-Kazipeth via Ballarsha.

Besides, a few sectors in Maharashtra will be considered for enhancing train speeds from 160-200 km per hour, which would help augment the number of services and reduce travel time.

Some of these sectors are Mumbai-Goa, Mumbai-Ahmedabad in the west, and Nagpur-Bilaspur, Nagpur-Secunderabad in the east.

Surveys for constructing new lines will be taken up on the Aurangabad-Chalisgaon sector, Solapur-Tuljapur in the Marathwada region.

The Centre also plans to survey the Bhusawal-Badnera-Wardha and Itarsi-Bhusawal (for a third line), Kasara-Igatpuri and Karjat-Lonavala (fourth line).

Special pilgrim circuits have been identified at various places, including Devi circuit, Jyotirling circuit, Jain circuit, Christian circuit, Muslim/Sufi circuit, Sikh circuit, Buddhist circuit, famous temples circuit, etc.

A tourist train will also be operated from Gadag to Pandharpur via Bagalkot, Bijapur and Solapur covering famous pilgrim and tourist centres of Karnataka and Maharashtra.

An in-principle approval has been granted for providing rail connection to the upcoming modern Dighi port in Ratnagiri in coastal Konkan regin.

Additionally, a boost will be given to transportation of fresh fruits and vegetables by providing temperature controlled storage facilities at Bhiwandi and Kalamboli, both in Thane, in partnership with the Central Railside Warehousing Corporation.