Promised Better Network, State Wants Rail Projects Fast-tracked

26 February 2015
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Amit Khajuria

Jammu: After Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu assured faster growth of the rail network in J&K, people here hope that the government will fast-track the pending projects. Though a little disappointed that no major announcement had been made for the state, people welcomed the Rail Budget even as they demanded that the pending projects in the state should be completed on priority. Surjeet Thakur, a frequent traveller from Jammu, said: 'There is no point of making big announcements in the Budget if you cannot execute it within the financial year.' 'There were many announcements made in the past which have not been executed to date. The announcement of more trains or projects would only have put additional burden on the authorities,' he added. The Rail Budget-2009 had promised to upgrade about 50 railway stations in the country, including Jammu-Tawi Railway Station, to the 'world class' level. The city railway station, however, continues to await international-level facilities. After inaugurating the Katra-Udhampur rail link on July 4 last year, former Railway Minister Sadananda Gowda had also announced the Kamakhya-Katra Express (weekly) via Darbhanga. The train, however, is yet to start. At present, only three trains chug up to Katra: Yesvantpur Express, Ahmedabad-Katra Express and Shri Shakti Express (New Delhi-Katra). The rail authorities so far have failed to extend up to Katra the Jammu Mail, Sampark Kranti and the Delhi-Pathankot Express. The Katra-Kalka (Chandigarh) Express and Delhi Sarai Rohilla-Udhampur Express are yet to start. Atul Mahajan, a businessman in Jammu, said, 'We are disappointed as no new trains have been announced, but our main thrust should be on the quality of the trains and railway stations. If this Rail Budget can provide the basic amenities and cleanliness in trains and stations, it would be the best ever budget.' 'We are still waiting for the trains that have already been announced for the state, especially the Katra-Kalka Express, which will provide a rail link to Chandigarh,' he added. Divisional Traffic Manager R N Meena, while welcoming the Rail Budget, said all the pending projects were almost complete. 'The Katra-Kalka track will soon open. We are waiting for the directions of the Northern Railway authorities,' he said.