For north, trains, factories and much else

The northern region has got 12 of the new trains announced in the rail budget, besides proposals for several projects including new lines.

Pawan Kumar Bansal, who represents Chandigarh, is the first MP from the northern states to be railway minister since 1984, when Bansi Lal of Haryana held that post for a few months. Rail ministers since then have been from Bihar or Bengal, which have benefited from successive rail budgets.

The current budget seeks to fulfil some long-pending demands of the north. Many of the new trains will cater to Chandigarh. The Kochuveli-Chandigarh Express is among those whose frequency is being increased, along with the Delhi-Pathankot Express and the Indore-Amritsar Express. The Chandigarh-Lucknow Express will be extended to Patna.

New lines include Firozpur-Patti; Hissar-Sirsa via Agroha and Fatehabad; and Yamuna Nagar-Chandigarh via Sadhaura, Narayangarh. Work on a Chandigarh-Ludhiana link, approved in 1997-98, was completed recently and it is likely to be commissioned in March.

A rail coach factory is being set up in Sonepat, Haryana, in collaboration with the state government, and a signalling equipment facility in in Chandigarh.

NEW TRAINS: Amritsar-Lalkuan (weekly) via Chandigarh; Bandra-Hisar (weekly); Bathinda-Jammu Tawi via Patiala and Rajpura; Chandigarh-Amritsar (daily) via Mohali; Ludhiana-Delhi-Firozpur (daily) via Bathinda; Delhi-Hoshiarpur (weekly); Kalka-Sai Nagar Shirdi Express (biweekly) via Nizamuddin, Bhopal and Itrasi; Katra-Kalka (biweekly) via Morinda; Kota-Jammu Tawi (weekly) via Mathura and Palwal; Delhi-Katra (AC,6 days a week); Una/Nangajda-Hazoor Saheb Nanded (weekly) via Anandpur Saheb, Morinda, Chandigarh and Ambala; Indore-Chandigarh (weekly) via Dewas, Ujjain, Guna, Gwalior, Nizamuddin.

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