Monday, February 25, 2013

Railway Budget 2013 - Expectations

Its now budget time again. Tomorrow (26th February 2013) our Honorable Railway Minister will submit his budget for the financial year 2013-14. Everyone in the nation is eager to know, what that Budget gives us? I am not any exception.

I always expect more from the Railways to Tamilnadu, as we are the state which yields more revenue and highest occupancy rate for Railways. As said in my last year post, Tamilnadu is one of the important state having maximum urbanization throughout the state and evenly developed towns, thanks to our prominent leaders for the past thirty plus years.

If you read my last year’s expectations you may find very few expectations are filled up by the railways and all the major requirements are still awaiting clearances. Apart from them, I wish Tamilnadu will get better opportunities in this year budget, considering the latest developments in the state.

A long pending request of Salem – Namakkal – Karur railway line is now completed and test run has been done successfully. Now it is waiting for the Safety Commissioner’s Certification, and soon it acquire it, the traffic will be open. This route will make a remarkable impact on Tamilnadu for sure.

Namakkal, Rasipuram are the most Industrialised areas related to Automotive Body Building, Lorry Trailors, Poultry Farms and Agricultural Products. Now, they are mostly relying on Roadways for Transportation of the goods. If the railway line is opened, it will facilitate Goods transportation at ease.

Also the trains bound to Southern Tamilnadu will now have a lesser transit time, as it could pass through Salem – Namakkal – Karur – Dindigul – Madurai route avoiding Erode Junction. This will in turn facilitate Erode Junction with more trains towards Coimbatore and Kerala.

Broad guage Conversion on Dindigul – Pollachi – Coimbatore/Palghat route is now partially completed. Dindigul – Palani route is opened to Traffic. Palani – Pollachi Route works completed and waiting for Certification. From Pollachi, there are two routes. One heads to Coimbatore and the other to Palghat. I understood from my recent Kerala trip, Railways has taken Pollachi – Palghat route now and the works upto Muthalamada is completed.

Even though there is a huge demand from the people of Coimbatore to take Pollachi – Coimbatore route at first preference, the land acquisition issues and cases at various courts related to Land Compensation, makes difficult to take the work at present.

Apart from these, Madurai – Bodinayakkanur; Shencottah – Punalur; Thiruvarur – Thiruththuraippoondi – Karaikkudi; Thiruththuraippoondi – Agasthiyampalli are the Meter Guage routes which are being converted into Broad Guage.

Electrification upto Madurai Junction is completed and yet to start the Service in this route. That was one of the major expectation from Deep South Tamilnadu, as we are now having higher travelling time. Since there is no unity among the political leaders as well as People in Tamilnadu, there is no hard pressure for doubling the Villuppuram – Nagercoil route, despite the growing demand of trains.

A request for new Railway line Ariyalur – Thanjavur; Ariyalur – Chidambaram is in cards for a long time. This will connect the Main Line with Chord Line and also enable access from East Coast to West Coast directly. Coimbatore – Sathy – Chamrajnagar; Hosur – Jolarpet Link routes are also pending.

These are the fact sheet of Tamilnadu as of now.

Even though there are number of requests for New Trains in Tamilnadu, I don’t think the current budget will give us lot of New Fresh Trains. But, I am seeing an opportunity of resuming / restoring all the trains which were stopped due to Guage Conversion. These trains may be plying in these routes, which are now newly converted in Broad Guage Lines.

1.       Villuppuram – Cuddalore – Mayiladuturai – Thiruvarur

2.       Villuppuram – Thiruvannamalai – Vellore

3.       Palani – Dindigul

4.       Thiruvarur – Nagappattinam

The trains which were running in Meter Guage in these routes are not fully resumed after Guage Conversion. Hence, we can expect this budget may announce the resume of all the trains, as a fresh trains!

Coimbatore – Trivandrum; Coimbatore – Bangalore; Madurai – Coimbatore; Chennai – Trichy; Chennai – Pondy; Bangalore - Vellore – Thanjavur; Nagappattinam – Coimbatore; Rameswaram – Coimbatore; Palani – Chennai; Palani - Tiruchendur are the few train services which people are looking for a long time. These are too essential for the people migrated to Chennai, Bangalore & Coimbatore for jobs / Education.

Growing Road accidents makes a little fear inside us, and there is a request for EMU/DMU passengers in few routes, which are having higher Road Traffic. This includes Trichy – Karaikkudi; Trichy – Kumbakonam; Trichy – Madurai; Trichy – Erode; Madurai – Karaikkudi; Madurai – Tirunelveli; Erode – Coimbatore; Coimbatore – Palghat; Coimbatore – Mettuppalayam; Vellore – Villuppuram; Salem – Hosur; Chidambaram – Kumbakonam. These routes are always crowded with Buses and hence Railway can fetch a sure shot money on peak hours. Also, we have to note, most of these railway lines are lesser utilized routes with Expresses.

A double decker train will be introduced in Chennai – Bangalore route. This is a welcome move for executives. Similar train may be operate in Chennai – Coimbatore; Chennai – Trichy routes, which are always occupied by business people.

Railways recently hiked the fare to the tune of 600 crores and there are rumours that this budget too will have a lighter fare hike. I have no issues in fare hike as the current fares are too less. But the safety and cleanliness is too worst in Indian Railways. If Railways can provide cleanliness, punctuality, comfort and safety, paying more will not be an issue for any.

Speeding up of trains and differences in running times should be regularized. For example, Chennai – Alleppey which is an Ordinary Express trains cross Chennai – Coimbatore in 07:10 hrs where as Nilgiri Express which is a Super Fast Express takes 07:30 hrs to the same destination. Then what is the justification for “Super Fast” and collecting extra charge for it, is still puzzling. The categorization should be justified and hope speeding up of few trains is now on the cards tomorrow.

As far as Tamilnadu is concerned, Railways always giving its best and flooding with good connectivity and services everytime. Still the demand is growing and expectations grows more than demand.

12 hours more to know, how the Railways fulfill the demands of Tamilnadu. Hoping the best surprises this year!!!

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