The long wait Andhra Pradesh for Duronto train service has ended today. The Union Minister of State for Railways, Mr K.H. Muniyappa, flagged off the tri-weekly Express to Visakhapatnam at Secunderabad on Wednesday.

The non-stop train would cover 700 km in 9.30 hours, reducing travel time by three-four hours. This is the 13th train service between the two stations. Half of them are daily trains. It is estimated that about 25,000 people commute between the two cities, putting pressure on the existing train and bus services.

The launch of Secunderabad-Visakhapatnam Duronto Express, announced in last year’s Railway Budget, had been put off more than once, while some other Durontos announced for other States were already up and running.

The Minister, along with the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Mr N. Kiran Kumar Reddy, also flagged off Hyderabad-Ajmer, Secunderabad-Darbhanga, and Hyderabad - Bellampalli Intercity express trains.

Waltair Division

Ms D. Purandheswari, Union Minister of State for Human Resources, who represents the Visakhapatnam Lok Sabha Constituency, has asked her Cabinet colleague to consider merging the division with the South Central Railway (SCR).

Mr Kiran Kumar Reddy too backed the merger proposal and felt that the jobs were going out of the State as the division was tagged to a zone outside the State.

Reminding him that this had been a long-pending demand, she also asked Mr Muniyappa and Mr Kiran Kumar Reddy to come to the rescue of those who had built houses in railway properties. Their living conditions were very bad and civic administration was not able to do anything because the Railways argued that the land belonged to them.

Mr Muniyappa, however, clarified that Railway zones did not generally take into consideration State geographies. “Nevertheless, I will look into your proposal,” he said.

Privatisation

The Chief Minister warned the Railway officials to improve efficiency of services. “Or, we will have to face demands from the people for privatisation. You have seen what had happened with regard to the telecom sector. It could repeat, if we fail to act now,” he said.

Cost-sharing

The Railways has asked the States to share costs in order to complete all the projects pending for the last 20 years. “If States come forward to fund the projects, we can complete all of the projects in the next five-six, ” Mr Muniyappa, said. Mr Reddy said the State asked the Railways to complete all the projects as early possible. “We would give matching funds,” he said.

(This article was published on July 11, 2012)
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