The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi flagged off the inaugural run of Vande Bharat Express from Dehradun to Delhi via video conferencing today. He also dedicated to the nation, newly electrified rail sections and declared Uttarakhand a 100% electric traction state.
Addressing the gathering, the Prime Minister congratulated everyone from Uttarakhand for the inaugural Vande Bharat Express between Dehradun and Delhi and said the train will connect the nation’s capital to the Dev Bhoomi of Uttrakhand. He informed that the travel time between the two cities will be further reduced and the onboard facilities will make for a pleasant travel experience.
Throwing light on his three-nation tour to Japan, Papua New Guinea and Australia, the Prime Minister underlined that the world is looking at India with high hopes. “India has become a ray of hope for the world when it comes to strengthening the economy and fighting poverty”, the Prime Minister said. He also touched upon India’s tackling of the Coronavirus pandemic and the world's largest vaccination campaign carried out in the country. The Prime Minister emphasized that beautiful states like Uttarakhand should make the most of today's situation when people from around the world want to come to India. Shri Modi underlined that the Vande Bharat train is also going to help Uttarakhand in taking full advantage of this opportunity.
The Prime Minister recalled his visit to Kedarnath and remembered his spontaneous statement that ‘This decade is going to be the decade of Uttarakhand’. He praised the development push of the state while keeping the law and order situation strong. The Prime Minister expressed the hope that ‘Devbhoomi will be the center of the spiritual consciousness of the world.’ He said that we will have to work to realize this potential. He mentioned that the number of pilgrims for the Char Dham Yatra keeps on breaking old records. He also talked about the devotees coming for the darshan of Baba Kedar, Kumbh/Ardh Kumbh at Haridwar and Kanwar Yatra. He said that not many states have this number of devotees arriving and it is a gift as well as a monumental task. “Double engine government is working with double power and double speed to make this ‘Bhagirath’ task easy”, he added.
The Prime Minister said that the government’s emphasis is on the ‘Navratna’, 9 gems of development. First Ratna, he said, is Rs 1300 crore rejuvenation work at Kedarnath-Badrinath Dham. Second, Rs 2500 crore Ropeway project at Gaurikund-Kedarnath and Gobind Ghat- Hemkunt Sahib. Third, the renovation of ancient temples of Kumaon under Manas Khand Mandir Mala programme. Fourth, the promotion of Homestay in the entire state where more than 4000 homestays have been registered in the state. Fifth, the development of 16 ecotourism destinations. Sixth, expansion of health services in Uttarakhand. AIIMS satellite center is coming up in Udham Singh Nagar. Seventh, Rs 2000 cr Tehri Lake Development Project. Eighth, the development of Haridwar Rishikesh as the capital of Yoga and adventure tourism and finally, the Tanakpur Bageshwar Rail Line.
He said these Navratnas are being consolidated with a new push to infrastructure development in the state. Work is going on at a rapid pace on Rs 12,000 cr Char Dham Mahapariyojana, he informed. Delhi Dehradun Expressway will make the journey faster and easier. He also talked about the Ropeway connectivity in Uttarakhand. “Parvat Mala Project is going to change the state's fortune in the coming days”, he said. He remarked that the Rs 16,000 cr Rishikesh-Karanprayag Rail Project will be completed in 2-3 years. The Project will make a big part of Uttarakhand accessible and will push investment, industry and employment.
The Prime Minister remarked that with the assistance of the Central Government, Uttarakhand is emerging as the hub of tourism, adventure tourism, film shooting destination and wedding destination. He said that the tourist spots of the state are attracting visitors from all across the globe and the Vande Bharat Express will be greatly beneficial to them. The Prime Minister observed that traveling by train remains the first choice for those who are accompanied by their family members and the Vande Bharat is gradually becoming the go-to means of transportation.
“The India of the 21st century can scale further heights of development by maximizing the potential of infrastructure”, the Prime Minister remarked as he pointed out that the governments of the past could not understand the importance of infrastructure while they were preoccupied with corruption and dynastic politics. Even though huge promises were made by the previous governments regarding high-speed trains in India, the Prime Minister observed that they even failed to get rid of unmanned gates from the rail network, while the state of electrification of rail lines was even worse. The Prime Minister informed that only one-third of the country's rail network had been electrified by 2014 making it impossible to think of a fast-running train. “The all-around work to transform the railways began after 2014”, the Prime Minister said. He underlined that the work to implement the dream of the country's first high-speed train began in full swing while also preparing the whole network for semi-high-speed trains. The Prime Minister informed that 600 km of rail lines were electrified every year on an average before 2014 whereas 6 thousand kilometers of railway lines are being electrified every year today. “Today, more than 90 percent of the country's railway network has been electrified. In Uttarakhand, 100 percent electrification of the entire rail network has been achieved”, the Prime Minister informed.
The Prime Minister credited the development work to the right intention, policy and dedication. Underlining that the boost in the railway budget in comparison to 2014 has directly benefited Uttarakhand, the Prime Minister informed that 5 years before 2014, the average budget for the state was less than Rs 200 crore whereas today the rail budget is 5 thousand crore rupees, a 25 fold increase. The Prime Minister emphasized the importance of connectivity in a hilly state where people from the villages migrated due to a lack of connectivity and underlined that the Government wants to prevent that suffering for the coming generations. He also noted that modern connectivity will also be of great use in easy access to our borders and the soldiers defending the nation should not be inconvenienced in any way.
Concluding the address, the Prime Minister said that the double-engine government is committed to the development of Uttarakhand where the rapid development of Uttarakhand will also help in the rapid development of India. “The country is not going to stop now, the country has now caught its pace. The whole country is moving ahead at the speed of Vande Bharat and will continue to move ahead”, the Prime Minister concluded.
This will be the first Vande Bharat to be introduced in Uttarakhand. With world-class amenities, it will herald a new era of comfortable travel experiences, especially for tourists traveling to the state. The train has been indigenously and is equipped with advanced safety features including the Kavach technology. The new Vande Bharat Express will cover the distance between Dehradun to Delhi in 4.5 hours.
Guided by the vision of the Prime Minister of providing cleaner means of public transport, Indian Railways is on a quest to completely electrify rail routes in the country. Moving ahead in this direction, the Prime Minster dedicated the newly electrified rail line sections in Uttarakhand. With this, the state will have its entire rail route 100% electrified. Trains run by electric traction on the electrified sections will result in an increase in the speed of trains and enhance haulage capacity.