Bathinda – The much-hyped bi-weekly Shatabdi Express running between Bathinda and New Delhi that was started with much fanfare in December last year, might be cancelled again in the coming days due to poor response. The much-hyped Shatabdi Express has been getting only a lukewarm response from the passengers with the reservation falling to less than 30 per cent in the recent days.
Sources in the Railway Department claimed that senior railway officials in New Delhi are quite upset with the response this train is receiving and are continuously keep a tab on it. Even Union Cabinet Minister and MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal, who pitched hard to start the Shatabdi Express from here is regularly taking feed back through officials, who are continuously in touch with station superintendent about the Shatabdi’s response.
Sources said as the train is not getting good response due to which it is putting extra burden on the Railway Department. As for running this train from Bathinda to Delhi, they have put two generator cables which cost around Rs 80,000 per single trip. Officials also said that catering company is carrying food for around 300 persons, but sometime boarding passengers are even less than 100, but the department is paying for all 300.
Recently, Shatabdi Express was running with very less number of passengers in it, due to which railway officials had taken a decision to shift all the passengers to front side of the train, so that they will stop one cable generator which will save Rs 40,000 for the department. Railway officials requested the passengers to kindly cooperate and shift to the other bogies in front side of the train, but one passenger refused to do so stating that his seat is allotted in this bogie and he will travel on this seat only and railway had face the burden of Rs 40,000 for just one passenger.
It is pertinent to mention that in 2002, Bathinda-New Delhi Shatabdi Express was flagged off by then railway minister Nitish Kumar from the Bathinda railway station, which was supposed to run five days a week but, due to lack of passengers, it was discontinued after 15 days.
Deputy Station Superintendent, KL Tigga, said he thinks that response of the Shatabdi Express has increased in last one month. But he was not sure as he has just taken charge on March 16 as station superintendent, Pardip Sharma, had gone for some training.
Another senior railway official on anonymity said it would have been better if instead of this Shatabdi , Janshatabdi Express should be running between Bathinda and Delhi.
This bi-weekly train, plying on Mondays and Saturdays, starts from Delhi at around 9 am and reachs Bathinda at 1.15pm and then leaves for Delhi the same day at 4.20 pm. While the AC chaircar ticket costs Rs 710, the charge for the executive class is Rs 1,345. The major reason behind the train not getting the good response is its timing and high fare, said sources.
As opposed to the notion that passengers don’t want to shell out extra for traveling in Shatabdi. The residents also feel that it was the timing of the train which needed to be changed to get more passengers and make it more viable.
Prof NK Gosain, a resident said, that the major issue of the Shatabdi express is its timing as per the current timing of the train, a passenger is not left with enough time to attend to his work in Bathinda and leave for Delhi again the same day. It would be more beneficial if the arrival and departure timings of the train were reversed.
He also stated that bogies and food standard of this Shatabdi express was not up to the mark.