M. Mallikarjun Kharge, Railway Minister, has said that the timings of the Nanded-Bangalore express will be modified to make it an overnight journey from Bidar to Bangalore.
“It may take some time. But it will be done,” Mr. Kharge said at a meeting to receive public grievances at the Bidar Zilla Panchayat on Wednesday.
He said that senior officials were studying “all possible ways to make this happen.”
“They are exploring options to speed up the train or reduce the speed of other trains. They will come up with a concrete proposal that is technically feasible. The change in timing will be implemented after obtaining clearance from the Railway Board and other bodies,” he said.
Officials were also considering the option of starting a new train from Bidar to Bangalore. If a pithole (where trains are washed and maintained) was set up in Bidar, then it would be easy to start new trains from there, he said.
Deputy Commissioner P.C. Jaffer said that a new train could be introduced from Bidar via Vikharabad in Andhra Pradesh, Wadi and Raichur to Bangalore. He favoured a link between Bidar and Wadi that would provide a connection to the Solapur-Yehwantpur train. Another option would be to extend the Bangalore-Kachiguda train to Bidar, Dr. Jaffer said.
He said that land was available at the new Khanapur railway station on the outskirts of Bidar to lay an additional line or build a washing and maintenance centre.
Mr. Kharge said that Rs. 50 crore would be released, in addition to this year’s annual budgetary allocation of Rs. 10 crore, for the Bidar-Gulbarga line. The State government could then be asked to sanction the same amount.Works to be taken up
He said that work on the tunnel between Humnabad and Gulbarga would begin by September. “We are also planning to operate a push-pull train on the 50-km stretch between Bidar and Humnabad. The train will begin operations by September-end,” the Minister said, after consulting B.P. Pandey, General Manager of Secunderabad division.
Work on a railway bridge, near Kurikota village in Gulbarga district, would begin in due course, he added.
“A decision on setting up a divisional headquarters in Gulbarga will be taken only after studying its viability. Senior officials of three zones in Secunderabad, Mumbai and Hubli will have to study the situation and approve the proposal. We can take a decision on the issue only then,” he said.
Later, speaking to presspersons, Mr. Kharge said: “We are not getting as much revenue as we want. But, there are no losses.”
Commenting on the financial health of the Indian Railways, he said that some Railway Ministers had expressed certain concerns in the past, but there was nothing to be alarmed about.
“We may not be making huge profits. But, our revenues are decent enough. Of the Rs. 1.43 lakh crore that we earn every year, over Rs. 79,000 crore is spent on salaries and very little is left for development projects,” he said.
He described the fare revision in the last Railway budget as “nominal”.
“There have been proposals in the past to streamline the process of revising fares. We have examined proposals such as setting up the Railway Tariff Revision Authority,” he said.
He said that a proposal to set up the Railway Tariff Revision Authority had been forwarded to the Inter-Ministerial Group for consultations.
“Once it studies the proposal and the secretaries concerned give their opinions, then it will be referred to the Cabinet for a final decision. The decision to revise fares will be taken in consultation with the Railway Tariff Revision Authority once the mechanism is in place,” he said.
He reiterated that the Union government would release an additional Rs. 300 crore to take up railway projects in the State. N. Dharam Singh, MP; Sharan Prakash Patil, district in-charge Minister; and Latha Harkude, Zilla Panchayat president, were present.