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No change in railway passenger fares, 18 new trains started

New Delhi: As expected, Union Railway Minister Nitish Kumar today doled out sops for India's 13 million railway passengers keeping the feel good factor in the run-up to the general elections in mind. Presenting the Interim Railway Budget for 2004-05 in Parliament, Kumar announced that there would be no changes in passenger fares and freight rates and also proposed the introduction of 18 new non-stop express trains between the national capital and various states. Additionally, he declared an outlay of Rs.20,000 crore for projects to connect the country's remote and backward areas. However, the opposition criticized the pre-election announcements. In the Rajya Sabha, the opposition said that the government was making important announcements before dissolution of the Lok Sabha and impending general elections. Senior Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee said the government may take credit for its 'India Shining' campaign, but the Opposition has a right to review its performance.

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