There had been a demand for the double-decker train from residents of Lucknow and today it was fulfilled, Singh said after launching the train at Anand Vihar station. Indian Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu, East Delhi MP Mahesh Girri and senior railway officials were present on the occasion.
The AC double-decker train will be a bi-weekly service (Fridays and Sundays) starting from May 1. It will depart from Anand Vihar station at 2.10 PM and will reach Lucknow at 10.50 PM the same day. In the return leg, the train will depart from Lucknow at 5 AM to reach Anand Vihar at 1 PM.
Thanking Railway Minister Prabhu for connecting Lucknow with the national capital with a double-decker service, Singh requested him to increase the frequency of the train and to start it from New Delhi station instead of Anand Vihar.
“The train is bi-weekly now. If it can be made daily, it will be better. So I am requesting to make it daily service,” said Singh, who represents Lucknow in the Lok Sabha.
According to Indian Railways, the demand for making the service daily and starting it from New Delhi is being considered.
Prabhu said efforts of railways are to provide comfortable and safe journey to passengers and the launching of AC double-decker service is a step in that direction.
“People from UP, Bihar and other areas come to the capital for job and we should ensure that they travel back to their homes safely and without hassle,” Prabhu said.
He said railways has undertaken steps for redevelopment of stations across the country and the “improvement of Lucknow station is our priority”.
Prabhu said Anand Vihar station will be developed as a model station.
The double-decker train will have 12 coaches having 120 seats in each. It will run approximately at a maximum speed of 110 kmph and the fare is fixed at Rs 630 for travelling between Lucknow and New Delhi.
Referring to the unauthorised occupation of railway land, Prabhu said, “Some of our land has been encroached upon… But whatever is the obstacle we will try to ensure safe and comfort journey for passengers.”
Railways is currently running AC double-deckers on a few routes including Howrah-Dhanbad, Mumbai-Ahemedabad, Delhi-Jaipur and Bangalore-Chennai.
Parliamentary panel unhappy at Idnian Railways spending in excess of budget grants
Unhappy to note that the railways was ending up spending more than what is earmarked for it in its budgetary allocations, a parliamentary panel has asked the public transporter to review its internal mechanisms to check the recurring phenomenon.
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) headed by Congress MP KV Thomas, in its latest report presented today in Parliament, observed that the excess expenditure in 2010-11 reached a huge sum of Rs 3,056.86 crore as it rose from Rs 1,922.84 crore in 2009-10 after being calculated as Rs 532.12 crore during 2008-09.
Such expenditure as is incurred in excess of sanctioned estimates is treated as unsanctioned expenditure, it said.
The 22-member PAC noted that despite the directions from rail ministry to the zonal units for undertaking a realistic assessment of their expenditure, 248 instances of the actual expenditure incurred by the zones exceeding their allotment have come to light while there were 139 cases of savings.
The panel has, therefore, asked railways to strengthen the system of documentation that aids the drawing up of budget estimates. It also called for the verification of the authenticity of the data which is used for projecting budget estimates, particularly at zonal levels.
It suggested that repeated lapses may be brought to the notice of the rail and finance ministry that exemplary action may be taken against the CAO and the financial adviser concerned.
The committee also noted that the funds allocated were not being optimally utilised, thus defeating the objective behind the exercise.
It said it was surprised to find that despite the availability of the latest IT tools for collecting and analysing data, railways is not able to properly assess its budgetary requirements.
The financial position of railways did not improve despite excess expenditure of more than Rs 1,000 crore as was evident from the negligible negative balances with which the railways depreciation reserve fund, pension fund, development fund and capital fund closed in 2011-12, it said, adding that instances of misclassification of expenditure occurred regularly in the accounting system.
The committee recommended that railways review its internal control mechanisms and strengthen the same if need be for ensuring compliance with the rules and regulations which have been laid down for effective budgeting and proper fiscal reporting, particularly at zonal levels.
It also said that responsibility and accountability at each level needs to be clearly defined and properly followed.
Farmers’ agitation hits train services in Punjab
Rail services in Punjab were disrupted today after agitating farmers led by Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) stopped trains at several places, protesting against tardy wheat procurement and demanding higher compensation for damaged crops due to inclement weather.
“Railway section between Jalandhar and Amritsar was severely affected because of farmers agitation for the last several hours, causing great inconvenience to passengers including women and children,” Divisional Railway Manager of Ferozepur Division Anuj Prakash said.
Among the affected trains, Amritsar Mail (13005), Nangaldam-Amritsar Express (14506), New Delhi-Amritsar Swarna Shatabdi Express(12029) were stopped due to agitation at Butari, Dhilwan and Beas respectively while Saharsa-Amritsar (15531), Shane Punjab (12497), Saryuyamuna Express (14650) were stopped at Suranussi, Kartarpur and Jandiala Guru, officials said.
“We had forewarned the state government about the farmers’ agitation,” Prakash said adding that maintaining law and order was the job of state authorities.
Prakash further said that senior officials from Amritsar had been holding talks with the agitating farmers to allow the movement of trains.
“We hope good sense prevails and situation becomes normal,” he said.
Initially, farmers in small strength tried to disrupt the railway traffic in the morning but as the day progressed, the strength of protesters grew to more than thousand, affecting rail services badly, rail officials said.
Bhartiya Kisan Union Ekta (Ugrahan) and Kisan Sangarsh Committee today jointly organised a “rail roko” agitation to highlight their demands for compensation for crop loss due to unseasonal rain and relaxation in procurement norms.
Besides seeking higher compensation for crop loss due to inclement weather conditions, farmers have also been demanding a bonus of Rs 500 per quintal over and above minimum support price (MSP) of wheat.
Meanwhile, a large number of farmers today blocked the New Delhi-Amritsar national highway at Jandiala near Amritsar, about 25 km from Golden Temple, police said.
Farmers blocked the national highway by squatting on the road which caused inconveniences to road commuters, they said.
A heavy police force led by SSP Amritsar Rural Jasdip Singh cordoned off the farmers who squatted on the railway track and national highway to prevent any untoward incident.