As Howrah-Puri Vande Bharat trial run begins, Odisha demands express trains on 2 new routes

AS THE Indian Railways held a trial run of the Vande Bharat train between Howrah in West Bengal and Puri in Odisha on Friday, the Naveen Patnaik government demanded introduction of the express trains on two more routes in the state — Bhubaneswar-Hyderabad and Puri-Rourkela.

State’s commerce and transport minister Tukuni Sahu, in a letter to Union railway minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, said Odisha has been a significant contributor to the growth engine of India, emerging as an eastern gateway to the nation. The state has been demanding rapid expansion of its rail network, still the Vande Bharat trains are being introduced across the country for faster connectivity, except in Odisha.

Underlining that there are very few faster trains connecting western Odisha and Bhubaneswar, Sahu demanded the introduction of a Vande Bharat train between Puri and Rourkela connecting Sambalpur. “It will facilitate faster passenger movement from western Odisha districts to the state capital. It will boost intra-state economic activity and connect the airports in Jharsuguda, Rourkela and Bhubaneswar,” she wrote.

Sahu said since a large number of people from Odisha are staying in Hyderabad and a Vande Bharat Express connecting Bhubaneswar and Hyderabad will facilitate faster movement of passengers between the two capital cities.

On the trial run of the Howrah-Puri express train, which will be officially launched in May first week, a senior Odisha government official said it’s meant mostly for the people of West Bengal wanting to come to Puri and may not be of much help to the people of Odisha.

BJP national spokesperson and Bhubaneswar MP Aparajita Sarangi said the Odisha government should appreciate the Narendra Modi government’s decision to introduce Howrah-Puri Vande Bharat train. On the state’s demand for more express trains, Sarangi said they should place their demand before the Centre, which will definitely consider them.

Sources in the East Coast Railway said the trial run of Howrah-Puri express started from Howrah station at 6.10 am, taking six hours to reach Puri with a two-minute stoppage at Kharagpur, Balasore, Bhadrak, Jajpur-Keonjhar Road, Cuttack, Bhubaneswar and Khurda stations.

The train will begin its return journey from Puri at 1.50 pm and reach Howrah at 8.30 pm, said railway sources.


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