Railways must focus on remote areas

I read the editorial, “Passenger is the King: Lalu opts for election track” (Feb 27). With improvement in many parameters, the Railway Minister deserves to be complimented. From almost fatal bankruptcy to achieve a profit of Rs 25,000 crore in this financial year and without raising the train fares is indeed a great achievement.

This public-passenger friendly Minister has announced 53 new passenger trains, 10 more Garib Raths, more concessions to elderly women and girl students, elevators for senior citizens, online booking from many places and health express for medical facilities to mothers and children.

Yet, I agree that railways lack global standards of comfort and efficiency. Trains run late and the unmanned railway crossings lead to many deaths. More attention to safety and improving facilities in trains and railway stations is the need of the hour.

Special attention should be given to increasing the railway network in the hilly and remote terrain of the country, particularly in Himachal Pradesh. Economic viability should not be the main consideration. If Dehra Dun, Paonta Sahib, Yamunanagar, Kala Amb, Nariangarh, Ambala and Chandigarh are inter-connected by railway line, it will not only benefit the three states of Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana but give a boost to trade and tourism in this region.

Dr L. K. MANUJA, Nahan (HP)



The Railway Minister has at last woken up to the popular demand of Himachalis to undertake the construction of Rs 1048-crore Bhanupali-Bilaspur- Beri broad gauge rail link in his fifth Railway budget. But Himachal has not been as lucky as other states in matter of rail connectivity.

The two existing rail links from the British times, more than 100 years old, have not been upgraded to broad gauge even after 60 years of Independence! The older generation of Himachalis, time and again, express their gratitude to the British government who found it fit to connect this hilly state with the rest of the country about 100 years ago. Successive Central government’s apathy perhaps stems from the fact that HP has a numerically feeble presence in Parliament. And those who are sent to Parliament from this state equally prove themselves feeble in raising their voice forcefully on this matter.

However, the Centre should appreciate that any rail link to the inner parts of Himachal is of great strategic importance as the boundaries of this state also form a part of our national boundary with China, with whom we have had bitter experiences in the past. If China can connect Lhasa with a rail link, why  not India?

Let us now hope that the newly proposed rail link is completed within schedule unlike the Nangal-Talwara rail link which, even after three decades, is still incomplete!

L. R. SHARMA, Sundernagar (Mandi)


The railway budget for 2008-2009 was beyond people’s expectations. For no rail track has been expanded in Himachal Pradesh. Surprisingly, not a pie has been sanctioned for the Pathankot- Jogindernagar  railway link.

The only welcome news is that there is no increase in the fares of all trains. Except in Bihar, the Railway Minister has not done anything concrete for the rest of the country.



I am happy that women senior citizens will hereafter enjoy 50 per cent fare concession in all the trains instead of 30 per cent concession earlier. However, it is not understood why the “unfair” sex has been ignored in the process? It will be very fair if the worthy Railway Minister reconsiders his decision and treats both sexes on par without any discrimination.

H. S. AULAKH, Chandigarh

Get to the bottom of Netaji’s death 

V.N. Dutta’s response, “No final answers” (March 3) to my article, “Netaji: The mystery deepens” (Feb 3) shows that there are still some concerned historians who want to get to the bottom of Netaji’s death. Jawaharlal Nehru and his group scuttled Netaji’s efforts to return to India in mid-1945 as Netaji presented a serious threat to Nehru’s rise in the political ladder.

Sadly, Mahatma Gandhi also didn’t try for Netaji’s return. Nehru shortchanged Master Tara Singh and the Sikhs on the issue of greater autonomy after the Partition. And Frontier Gandhi Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan, my neighbour in Kabul, had often shared with me his dismay at his and his Party which never wanted the Partition being let down by Nehru at the time of India’s messy slicing up.

Besides an independent Commission getting access to the Mountbatten and Krishna Menon Papers as suggested by Dutta, the Indian government should seek access to British, Japanese and Russian archives. This will help us know how a true Indian nationalist was allowed to whither away somewhere in the foreign soil when his rightful place was clearly at home.




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