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Wednesday, February 21, 2018
REGULARISE SPECIAL TRAIN TO BENGALURU, DEMAND VIZAGITES : The train''s timings are convenient for IT employees and general public alike, as it starts from Vizag on Sunday afternoon and reaches Bengaluru on Monday morning. The train starts its return journey from Yasvantpur on Friday evening and reaches Vizag on Saturday afternoon. It suits us. The railways should make it a regular weekly train," said R Vamsidhar from Vizag, who works with an IT company in Bengaluru. Another IT employee, M Pradyumna, said the train mostly runs packed as the demand is huge from both sides. "The waiting list is often above 100. The train''s main selling point are its timings, both departure and arrival, both onward and return. There is no other direct train with such convenient timings between Vizag and Bengaluru. We want the railway authorities to make it as a regular service. They should listen to our pleas at the earliest as summer is on its way and we can book tickets early,” Pradyumna said. He added that the train reaches Bengaluru one-two hours late due to its ''special'' status. "Once it is regularised, such delays will end. We hope they add more coaches too," he said. When contacted, Waltair divisional railway manager MS Mathur said: “It is a special train but the demand has been very good. The division is not the right authority to introduce train services but we have proposed to the authorities concerned for its continuance."
RAILWAY ZONE WITH HQ IN VISAKHAPATNAM IS A WIN-WIN FOR ALL : The AP State Reorganisation Act, 2014, says, "The Central Government shall take all necessary measures as enumerated in the Thirteenth Schedule for the progress and sustainable development of the successor States within a period of ten years from the appointed day" and the Thirteenth Schedule further states, "Indian Railways shall, within six months from the appointed day, examine establishing a new railway zone in the successor State of Andhra Pradesh and take an expeditious decision thereon". This is a long pending demand especially in Visakhapatnam region for over a decade. People today believe they and their future generations would gain with the socio-economic benefits a new railway zone would bring. The Thirteenth Schedule of the Act states, "The Government of India shall, within six months from the appointed day, examine the feasibility of establishing a Vizag-Chennai industrial corridor along the lines of Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor and take within such period an expeditious decision thereon." Development of the corridor requires a separate railway zone since railway connectivity and industrial corridor go hand in hand. As this entire corridor falls under AP, a separate zone must be in the State. The present arrangement of being in two different zones with headquarters in different states, Telangana and Odisha, shall not serve the purpose. Railways, being the lifeline of any economy, plays an important role in the development of a state. In bifurcated AP, the largest city, the major port and industrial hub is Visakhapatnam. Holistic development being closely intertwined with railways, progress cannot be achieved as Visakhapatnam is in another zone. With vast coastline and ports like Visakhapatnam, Gangavaram, Kakinada, Krishnapatnam and Machilipatnam and further with upcoming ports like Nizampatnam, Vadarevu, Bhimunipatnam, Kalingapatnam and Durgarajapuram, the Railways can expect increased traffic from these ports. Presently, ports of AP carry low value bulk products like iron ore, coal, limestone, etc. Visakhapatnam and Gangavaram ports in Visakhapatnam city are the future trans-shipment ports due to their central location on the east coast as well as being the only deepest ports that can handle very large to ultra-large vessels. Further in Visakhapatnam, deep sea is hardly 1 km from coast while in Mumbai, Kandla, Haldia and Paradeep, one has to travel more than 100 km farther into the sea. Hence, Visakhapatnam is the future. Visakhapatnam has 800 acres of Railway land free from hindrances making it the most ideal location for setting up a Zonal HQ due to excellent railway infrastructure apart from being hub of economic activities and excellent connectivity by all modes of transport. Though the announcement of a new zone is a political decision, the formation of a new South Coast Railway Zone makes sound economic and technical sense. Setting it up is a win-win for the region as well as the Indian Railways because it will immensely enhance the latter’s revenues. There is a feeling among the political sections in Odisha that the loss of Waltair division means loss of revenue to the East Coast Railway, and it shall be left out with only two divisions which is against the principle of Railway Zone having minimum three divisions. There is nothing called "viability" or "non-viability" in Railways since every Zone functions under one umbrella i.e., the Railway Board. All the earnings as well as the expenditures are accounted for through the Consolidated Fund of India. Contrary to the belief that each zone is functionally independent and works as a profit centre, all the zones work as a single unit.