Itarsi-Betul railway route set to complete 100 years

The Itarsi-Betul section in the Nagpur division of Central Railway will be completing 100 years on Monday.

Nagpur: The Itarsi-Betul section in the Nagpur division of Central Railway will be completing 100 years on Monday.

The 108-km rail route, a vital link connecting the north with the south via Nagpur, was opened on May 13, 1913.

Laying the rail route crisscrossing the entire Satpuda Valley was a major challenge back then. But engineers of erstwhile Great Indian Peninsula Railways (now Central Railway) achieved it by constructing nine tunnels and over 300 bridges in the valley, Central Railway Public Relations Officer Praveen Patil said.

In those days, the trains had steam engines and took three hours to cover the 108 km distance. The modern diesel and electric locomotives now take 1 hour and 45 minutes to cover the same stretch.

Diesel locomotives were introduced in the section in 1970, and electric locomotives followed suit 21 years later (1991).

Grand Trunk Express (New Delhi to Chennai) and Dakshin Express (H Nizamuddin to Hyderabad) are the oldest trains running on this route.

The centenary would be celebrated at a function at Betul station tomorrow.

The Federation of Railway Officers` Association in its
letter to Cabinet Secretary and PMO said that senior posts of General Manager are kept vacant for months while in cases of vacancies of members in Railway Board, proposals to the Appointments Committee of Cabinet (ACC) are sent at the eleventh hour.

"A Chairman of Railway Board actually kept a member`s post vacant for the entire duration of his chairmanship and held dual charge," said the letter.

Besides, it charged that there was a complete lack of transparency in formation of the panels for promotion as GMs and others.

"Needless to say, that this is not only a great blow to the personal dignity and feeling of self-worth of these officers but also creates a sense of fear and uncertainty in their minds -- a breeding ground for favouritism and corruption."

The Association said that the events that unfolded in connection with the arrest of Mahesh Kumar in the bribery case did not surprise most Railway officers.

"They (events) have deeper roots than what the media can see or the CBI can uncover," the Association said.

Seeking "immediate corrective measures" to weed out corruption from Railways, the Association demanded that all proposals for filling up vacancies of GMs and members of Railway Board must be sent three months ahead of the vacancy actually occurring.

A uniform rule should be laid down and followed without deviation for appointment of Chairman or members of Railway Board, the Association said.