In the run up to the budget announcement, passengers hope that the four-year-old promise of a world-class Pune station might finally come true.
It was in 2009, that Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee had announced that 50 stations across India would be revamped and transformed into world class facilities. Pune was one of those 50 cities to receive improved railway services. But it seems that in Pune, as anywhere else, promises to be easily forgotten, activists said.
Activists said, over the years, few attempts have been made to realise this dream of an international-level Pune station. Railway officials cite lack of funds and experience for the delay in upgrading the facilities. For the passengers, however, the railway system in the city is lacking in most essential areas.
“Pune station is such a busy place, there is hardly any space during the peak hours. The railway authorities have so much space but they don’t expand the station. Whatever little space is available is occupied by people sleeping and living there. Railways said, they need more funds from the government to expand facilities. We pay enough taxes to expect improvement. Hopefully this year’s budget will lead to some changes in Pune railways,” said Manjulata Mehta, a former member of the Zonal Railway Users Consultative Committee.
“Forget about a world-class station. Basic things like security and cleanliness are lacking. There is very little security during night with less number of policemen on guard. The station are not even clean. The toilets on the train open on to the ground and soil the stations and the running tracks. There are rats which move about in this dirt and spread disease,” she added.
The number of trains and passengers footfall have only increased over the years, but there are no signs of meeting the rising demand. More than 180 trains cross the station every day. With just six platforms, the station is greatly overburdened and congested.
Y K Singh, railway spokesperson said, “At such a time, expansion and improvement of the facilities would be welcome. The conversion into world-class facilities will begin from Delhi and will then move to other cities. Right now, we don’t have the funds, or the experience for it.”
Singh said, railways is making every other effort to improve the experience for passengers. “Last year, we extended platform 6, so that now it can accommodate 22 bogeys instead of 18. We have also routed all Pune departing trains through