Bansal signals new trains

Bansal signals new trains

Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal on Wednesday announced 19 new trains and other projects, perhaps to balance the political equations of the ruling UPA.

Opposition parties, including the BJP, Left, JDU, Shiv Sena, AIADMK, BJD and the Trinamool Congress, walked out of the Lok Sabha alleging their demands were ignored.

Abandoning the austerity and pragmatism he displayed while presenting the Rail budget, Bansal also extended the services of three trains and increased frequency of five, mostly on already congested routes. Replying to the debate on railway budget, the minister virtually admitted he had to oblige political stalwarts, including Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh.

Bansal had earlier announced only 106 trains and 22 new projects, while citing resource constraint. Apparent political pressure made him change routes of few trains as well.

The new announcements will benefit states like Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. Two resource-rich states—Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand—will have increased connectivity. The minister assured Mulayam Singh allocation of more funds for a new line between Itawa-Mainpuri in Uttar Pradesh, while adding he accommodated a diversion in Allahabad on the request of senior SP leader Revati Raman Singh.  

Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj walked out in protest against the railway minister allegedly ignoring her demands while accommodating Laloo Prasad, Mulayam Singh and others. Making similar allegations, other Opposition parties also staged walk-outs.