Though there are thousands of trains of Indian Railways that run daily for various destinations, train number 54703, Abohar –Jodhpur passenger train carries a special significance for the patients of cancer in Bathinda district of Punjab and adjoining areas. Though many patients travel from one part of the country to another for their treatment, the importance of this train lies in the fact that there are a number of patients of cancer in that region that travel in this passenger train from Bathinda to Bikaner. People call it by the name of Cancer train. The train departs Bathinda station at 9.30 P.M. and reaches Bikaner in the morning at 5.30 thus covering a distance of 324 kilometers. Reservation is available in the only one sleeper coach attached to this train. All other passengers have to accommodate themselves in the general coaches available in the train. There are no first class or A.C. Class coaches in this train. The fare of sleeper coach for this 324 kilometers journey from Bathinda to Bikaner is rupees 125 only. According to Railway rules cancer patients when go for their treatment are entitled for 100 % concession while one of its attendants gets 75% concession on the fare.
People of Bathinda and the adjoining areas find this cancer train convenient for going to treatment at Bikaner. There is a cancer hospital in Bikaner by the name of Acharya Tulsi regional cancer treatment and research Institute which runs with a mission to provide affordable care with human touch to all the sections of the society irrespective of economic consideration. This hospital besides providing other facilities distributes free medicines to the patients.
Bathinda-the Cancer hub of Punjab
Bathinda has seen such a fast growth of number of cancer patients that it has also come to be known as Cancer capital of the state. The reason behind this as observed is excessive use of pesticide, insecticides etc. Punjab state has remarkably created a suitable niche for its development. It has been using all modern techniques in promoting its agricultural production and the chemicals used here are held responsible for making it a cancer prone belt of the Punjab. Though Punjab too hosts good hospitals but a lot of patients prefer to go to the neighboring state for economical reasons. Availability of more patients of cancer in Bathinda and better services of the cancer hospital in Bikaner has made the identity of the train as cancer train though there is no official nomenclature of it. People in the region know this train by the name of cancer train.