Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged off the first Vande Bharat Express for Odisha on Thursday, and laid foundation stone for the redevelopment of Puri and Cuttack railway stations.
He also inaugurated the Bichhupali-Jhartarbha rail line, dedicated Sambalpur-Titlagarh doubling, Angul-Sukinda new line, Manoharpur-Rourkela-Jharsuguda-Jamga third line and 100 per cent electrification of railway lines in Odisha through video conferencing from New Delhi in a function held at Puri railway station on Thursday.
The cost of all these projects is worth Rs 8,216 crore.
Addressing the gathering, the prime minister said the people of Odisha and West Bengal are being presented the Vande Bharat Express today which is a symbol of modern and aspirational India. “India’s speed and progress can be seen whenever a Vande Bharat Train runs from one place to another,” he said.
While speaking on the occasion, Dharmendra Pradhan, Union Minister of Education and Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, said that the Sonepur district has been connected for the first time in the railway map of Odisha, with the Centre giving much needed impetus for the growth of Odisha.
Ashwini Vaishnaw, Union Minister of Railways, Communication and Electronics & Information Technology, said that the fund allocation from Centre for the development of railway network in Odisha was very meagre but it has steadily increased to Rs 10,000 crore in the current financial year.
He added that 57 stations in Odisha are being redeveloped into world-class stations. He also said that the Centre is looking into running the second Vande Bharat Express connecting Puri-Bhubaneswar-Cuttack-Rourkela-Jaharsuguda-Talcher-Angul and also consider running the ‘Vande Metro’ services connecting Puri-Bhubaneswar-Cuttack in Odisha after its successful launch.