After 13 years, the much awaited Shatabdi Express between Bathinda and New Delhi which was to be flagged off recently is now expected to roll on the tracks only next year putting the long cherished desire of the residents in limbo.
The Shatabdi Express was scheduled to be flagged off on October 31 this year by the then Union Minister for Railways Sadanand Gauda but it was put on hold at the last moment.
The political developments in the state has also put brakes on the Shatabdi as Union minister and Member of Parliament from Bathinda Harsimrat Kaur Badal as well as Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had raised the demand several times for the launching of the train. Harsimrat had even taken credit for the decision to introduce Shatabdi on the Bathinda-New Delhi route.
Sources claimed that the BJP leaders do not want the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) to take credit for the launch of the train and want it introduced next year and then claim that the Modi-led NDA government has fulfilled the long-pending promise of the people of the region.
It is pertinent to mention that with the ongoing tussle between the alliance partners, SAD and BJP, the train is now likely to be run only next year.
A railway official said the visit of the minister had been cancelled due to which the flagging off of the Shatabdi Express was put on hold for the time being. So far, no information has been received regarding this. According to the official, the train would now be flagged off only next year.
The Shatabdi Express between Bathinda and Delhi was announced by the then Union Railway Minister Sadananda Gauda in his maiden rail budget speech earlier this year.
The train will run on the Jakhal-Rohtak route with three halts at Jakhal, Jind and Rohtak. With this, the Bathinda-Delhi route will be covered in 4 hours and 45 minutes. The train will leave from New Delhi to Bathinda at 9 am in the morning and reach Bathinda at 1.45 pm. The same train will leave for Delhi from Bathinda at 4.15 pm in the evening and reach Delhi at 9 pm. The Shatabdi train number which will run from here is 12047 Up and 12048 Down.
It is worth mentioning that in 2002, the Shatabdi Express was started from Bathinda to Delhi by the then Railway Minister Nitish Kumar. It used to run five days a-week. But due to less number of passengers, it was discontinued within a month. Later, with the opening of national projects in the city, the rail connectivity to Delhi became a major requirement. The residents had been demanding a Shatabdi between Delhi and Bathinda for many years.
BJP leaders and residents are unhappy over this further delay in running of the Shatabdi Express between Bathinda and New Delhi. The BJP leaders were happy to have their minister here and score a point in the upcoming Municipal Corporation) elections, as they would have gone to town claiming credit that the BJP, after coming to power, had fulfilled the long-pending demand of the residents.