Pune: The Railway Budget, part of the Union Budget since 2017, will be presented on February 1. Pune-based railway passenger activists said their expectations included implementation of safety measures on long routes and more trains from Pune to pilgrim centres in the country.
Safety is a prime concern as there were a number of rail accidents last year. In all, 485 people died while crossing railway tracks in Pune railway division in 2017. Therefore, safety is likely to get maximum attention in the Union Budget. Expectations include better precautionary measures, improved infrastructure for trains and at stations, better facilities and technologically advanced warning systems. The Railways is planning to use GPS-based navigation systems to reduce delays and accidents caused by fog. It plans to deploy drones for better tracking and crowd management at stations.
Harsha Shah, President of Railway Pravasi Group, said Pune railway division needs more north-bound trains. "Pune has been neglected for many years. Pune needs more trains bound for north India. Thousands of passengers visit these centres every year. There are no direct trains for destination like Varanasi, Haridwar, Dehradun and Amritsar."
"Railway has announced high-speed trains from Delhi and Mumbai, but they are not thinking about Pune. The Pune division needs high-speed trains because many passengers travel long distances. It takes over 24 hours to reach such destinations. If high-speed trains run from Pune, they will reach their destinations in 15 to 18 hours. Besides, Railways has to end flexi fares. Flexi fares are a burden for passengers. It should be scrapped in this Budget," said Shah.
Vikas Deshpande, Secretary, Daund-Pune-Daund Pravasi Sangh, said, "Recently, the doubling work in Solapur division between Daund and Manmaad, Daund and Solapur and Kurduwadi and Latur is in progress. Once this work is completed, traffic strain will automatically come over the Daund-Pune section. Also, Kurkumbh to Hadapsar (NH9) is presently 4-lane, which will be made 6-lane shortly. Hence, there will be big scope for industrial, residential and commercial developments between Daund and Pune. At present, Pune-Lonavla suburban zone is functional."
"Pune is growing rapidly towards Lonavala, Daund, Saswad and Jejuri. People prefer to stay in sub-urban areas due to comparatively cheaper availability of land and residential premises. Daund is an upcoming suburb of Pune. In view of this, it has become necessary to construct a quadruple track between Lonavla and Pune and Daund section (4 lanes.) In quadruple tracks, faster trains can overtake slower ones, and quadrupling can contribute to faster operation of trains," he said.
"At present, no provision of medicines at railway stations is made for senior citizens and patients and in emergencies. Medical shops should be provided on every junction," he added.