New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged off Assam’s first Vande Bharat Express via video conferencing today. The Vande Bharat Express will connect Guwahati with New Jalpaiguri Guwahati and the journey will take 5 hrs 30 mins. The Prime Minister also dedicated 182 Route kilometers of newly electrified sections and inaugurated a newly constructed DEMU/MEMU shed at Lumding in Assam.
Addressing the gathering, the Prime Minister said that today is a huge day for the connectivity of the Northeast as three development works are being accomplished together. Firstly, the Prime Minister elaborated, Northeast is getting its first Vande Bharat Express today where this is the third Vande Bharat Express which connects West Bengal. Secondly, approximately 425 kilometers of railway tracks in Assam and Meghalaya have been electrified. And, thirdly, a new DEMU/MEMU shed has been inaugurated in Lumding in Assam. The Prime Minister congratulated the citizens of the entire Northeast along with Assam, Meghalaya and West Bengal on this momentous occasion.
The Prime Minister said that the Guwahati -New Jalpaiguri Vande Bharat train will strengthen the centuries-old ties between Assam and West Bengal. This will increase ease of travel and provide huge benefits to students and will increase job opportunities arising out of tourism and business. He said that this Vande Bharat will provide connectivity to Maa Kamakhya Temple, Kaziranga, Manas National Park, and Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary. Furthermore, the Prime Minister pointed out that it will enhance travel and tourism in Shillong, Cherrapunji in Meghalaya and Tawang and Pasighat in Arunachal Pradesh.
Modi said that he has given the highest priority to Northeast people’s sensitivities and facilities. This change has been widely felt, he added. He informed that before 2014, the average railways budget for the Northeast was about 2500 crore rupees which has grown to more than 10 thousand crores this year, a four-fold increase. Now capitals of Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Sikkim are being connected to the rest of the country, “Very soon all capital cities of the Northeast are going to be connected with a broad gauge network”, he said, “One lakh crore rupees are being spent on these projects.”
The state-of-the-art Vande Bharat Express will provide the people of the region with the means to travel with speed and comfort. It will also boost tourism in the region. Connecting Guwahati with New Jalpaiguri, the train will help save about an hour of journey time, when compared with the current fastest train connecting the two places. Vande Bharat will cover the journey in 5 hrs 30 mins, while the current fastest train takes 6 hrs 30 mins to cover the same journey.
The Prime Minister dedicated 182 Route kilometers of newly electrified sections. This will help provide pollution-free transportation with trains running at higher speeds and reduced running time of trains. It will also open the doors for trains running on electric traction to enter Meghalaya.
The Prime Minister also inaugurated a newly constructed DEMU/MEMU shed at Lumding in Assam. This new facility will be helpful for maintaining DEMU rakes operating in this region, leading to better operational feasibility.