Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday asserted that the Union government is making record investments for railway infrastructure modernisation.
In an address after virtually flagging off Howrah-New Jalpaiguri Vande Bharat Express, the Prime Minister said that railway stations, including New Jalpaiguri, are being developed on the lines of airports.
Noting that the doubling of tracks and electrification is underway at a record speed, he said that the eastern and western freight corridors will bring revolutionary changes to the country’s economy.
“Today’s Vande Bharat train was launched from the land where ‘Vande Mataram’ slogan was coined,” he pointed out.
The Prime Minister added, “The launch date of December 30 is significant as Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose had hoisted the tricolour in Andaman and Nicobar Islands on this day in 1943.” On the issue of water pollution, he said that the Centre is laying stress on preventing pollution of rivers.
“West Bengal will have 25 new sewage treatment projects, 11 of which have already been completed, while seven will be launched during the day,” he said.
“In this year of Azaadi ke Amrit Kaal, we will adopt a forward-looking approach to take country ahead. The world is looking at India with great faith; every Indian has to exert himself to live up to this expectation,” he added.
Earlier in the day, Modi virtually flagged off the express in the presence of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
Also present on the occasion were Governor C V Ananda Bose and Union Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw.
The seventh Vande Bharat Express started its journey at 11.45 am from platform number 22 of Howrah Station to travel to New Jalpaiguri, the gateway to the Northeast.
The blue-and-white train, which covers a distance of 564 km in 7.45 hours, will save three hours of travel time compared to other trains on the route, officials said. It will have three stoppages at Barsoi, Malda and Bolpur.
The Vande Bharat Express with modern passenger amenities is likely to be preferred both by regular passengers, tea industry executives and tourists travelling to the Himalayas in North Bengal and Sikkim. The state-of-the-art train has 16 coaches, including two for drivers.
Earlier, Banerjee, while speaking on the occasion, condoled the demise of Modi’s mother Hiraben. “Your mother is also our mother,” she said.
The CM also said work on four out of the five railway projects that Modi will launch on Friday was started during her tenure as railway minister.