Passengers cheer status quo on fare

Union Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal’s budget has evoked mixed responses from passengers and members of the industry.

While many have welcomed the minister’s move not to increase passenger fares, others have expressed unhappiness about most of the demands put forth by Karnataka not being met. However, there is positive response from the younger generation to the e-ticketing system proposed in the budget.

Savitha Hiremath of Koramangala said she was happy to see there was no revision of travel fare.

However, the minister has increased freight charges by 5.8 per cent. This would, in turn, push up prices of petrol and diesel. The common man is the ultimate sufferer, she said. Manjunath K, a resident of Banashankari, said eight new express trains being introduced for the State was a welcome move.

However, these trains should be run more frequently, he said. People are fed up with hefty fares being charged by private buses on the Bangalore-Mangalore route. However, the new express train proposed on the route would be running only once a week, which is not enough, he said.

Ravi G, a resident of Vijayanagar, welcomed the budget proposal to introduce SMS alerts to passengers, providing updates on reservation status and other real time information. At the same time, the Railways should not ignore basic amenities at stations, including drinking water, he said. Kumar S, a resident of Mathikere, said infrastructure improvement at stations should have been given prominence.

‘Major demands not met’

K Shiva Shanmugam, president, FKCCI, said he welcomes the green initiatives, improving passenger amenities, third party audit and tie-up with food testing laboratories for ensuring food quality provided in trains, modernising and upgrading existing infrastructure. Other proposals such as setting up a Railway Tariff Regulatory Authority, fuel adjustment component (FAC)-linked revision for freight tariff are welcome initiatives, he said.

Shanmugam said the new coach factory at Kolar and new line projects like Chikmagalur-Sakleshpur and Bangalore–Satyamangalam are welcome. Major demands for Karnataka such as Bangalore-Karwar fast train, inter-city semi-high speed trains, etc, have not been considered, he said.

Sanjeev Dyamannavar from Praja said, “When the State is sharing 66 per cent of the costs, we expect a little more allocation from the Centre. But they do not seem to be giving us anything. There have been no trains with Diesel Engine Multiple Units (DEMU) and Mainline Electrical Multiple Units (MEMU).” There is no mention of suburban trains in Bangalore, he said. There is no provision for more coaching terminals in the State, since at present, only Bangalore, Mysore and Hubli have one. There is a small coaching terminal in Bijapur.

Logistics concern

Vineet Agarwal, Joint Managing Director, Transport Corporation of India, an integrated supply chain and logistics solutions company, said Railway Budget is a mixed bag for both passengers and the logistics sector.

“We welcome the decision to appoint a Freight Regulator to decide on freight rates. This will lead to justified freight rates.” Agarwal said no announcement being made to introduce high speed trains was a disappointment for the logistics sector.

‘North Karnataka ignored’

Vatal Nagaraj of Kannada Chaluvali Vatal Paksha said the budget has ignored the interests of people in North Karnataka. “We were expecting new trains to some of the major towns in North Karnataka. However, this was not to be.”

Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas M Veerappa Moily has welcomed the railway budget as it has sanctioned two major railway lines to Chikkaballapur, the constituency he represents.

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