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Thursday, Apr 18, 2002

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`Celebration on wheels'

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AS part of the 150th year of Indian Railways celebrations, South Central Railway (SCR) on Wednesday ran a Heritage steam train with five coaches from Bolaram to Medchal to commemorate the first train run in the country from Boribundar to Thane on April 16, 1853.

SCR wants to celebrate the event for a year up to April 16, 2003 with a series of functions such as exhibitions, torch runs and cultural festivals. The heritage steam locomotive, "Rudrama'', named after Rani Rudrama of Kakatiya dynasty, was manufactured in Germany in 1955 and was in service till June 17, 1994. It was refurbished and put on rails for the occasion.

The Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, Mr N. Chandrababu Naidu, who flagged off the heritage steam train at Bolaram station said that though the Railways had registered a growth rate of 13 per cent, it had a long way to go and put its vast land resource to better use and generate revenues for improving passenger amenities.

The Union Minister of State for Urban Development, Mr B. Dattatreya, said Indian Railways was facing a loss of Rs 1,800 crore and as a consequence was unable to hasten development programmes. The Adilabad-Mudkhed line was sanctioned three years ago and Rs 100 crore was also provided for the project. But work on it had not been taken up.

He said he had impressed upon the Railway Minister, Mr Nitish Kumar, on the need to develop Hyderabad, Secunderabad, Khazipet, Vijayawada and Guntakal stations as models. There was pressing need for providing drinking water at railway stations this year which was declared as the "Year of Passengers''.

The General Manager of SCR, Mr S.M. Singla, traced the developments in the last 36 years since the formation of the zone and said the freight movement which was a little more than 9 million tonnes in 1966 had gone up to 60.4 m.t. in the last financial year.

He said Rs 897 crore was budgeted for development works in SCR this year and the first phase of the multi-modal transport system for the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad which was jointly taken up with the State Government at a cost of Rs 70 crore would be ready by November 1.

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