Future proofing Odisha’s railway infrastructure

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses during a ceremony to launch multiple railway projects and flag off the Puri-Howrah Vande Bharat Express train through a video conference, on Thursday, May 18, 2023. (Photo:IANS/Twitter)

Bhubaneswar, June 30 (IANS)  Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 18 flagged off the Puri-Howrah Vande Bharat Express. Odisha celebrated the launch of its first fully indigenous built Vande Bharat Express Train, a landmark achievement of Make in India initiative.

The train runs between Puri, the abode of Lord Jagannath, and Howrah, West Bengal’s industrial powerhouse.

Vande Bharat Express revolutionises the travel experience by offering passengers enhanced speed, superior comfort, and unparalleled convenience. It is likely to promote economic development in the region through a boost in tourism.

Puri is a very popular destination for tourists from West Bengal, as a pilgrimage and a beach resort.

Travel agents believe that the high-speed train will be an instant hit among these travellers.

In the same ceremony, PM Modi laid the foundation for several other railways projects for Odisha worth Rs 8,000 crore.

The redevelopment of Puri and Cuttack railway stations was one of those projects.

The project aims to upgrade the Cuttack station into a world-class facility, responding to the growing needs of the passengers.

Union Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw has announced a budget of Rs 303 crore for this ambitious project.

The upgradation of Cuttack station is part of the larger efforts by the Indian Railways to refurbish railway stations across the country.

The renovation of Cuttack Railway Station holds great significance for both the local community and the railway sector.

The government aims to improve the station’s infrastructure and amenities, creating a world-class facility that matches with international standards.

The redevelopment project is likely to provide a significant boost to the region’s economy and tourism sector.

Vaishnaw, who also attended the launch, highlighted the significant infrastructure development achieved by the railways in Odisha.

This year alone, the railways have built a remarkable 450 km of new rail lines. It was a record compared to the mere 50 km annual average during 2009-14. This substantial expansion of rail infrastructure reinforces Odisha’s connectivity and overall development.

Railways has also started a 162 crore redevelopment project for Puri station to cater to the growing number of visitors.

The plan includes a weather-resistant shelter which will have the capacity to withstand cyclonic winds and a centralised air-conditioned station building, escalators, and improved amenities.

The renovated station will offer facilities such as food plazas, baby feed rooms, shops, modern retiring rooms, and recreational areas. The redeveloped station will also include dedicated spaces for yoga, meditation, and library facilities.

The station building will be designed as a green structure, in line with environmental considerations, with an efficient energy management system.

Additionally, the redeveloped Puri station will incorporate several green initiatives, such as the installation of electric car charging points in the parking bay and an effluent treatment plant to minimise environmental impact.

The platforms will undergo renovations with modern ceilings, lighting, and signage to enhance the overall functionality and aesthetic appeal of the station. Efforts are also being made to ensure smooth traffic flow and adequate parking.

The redeveloped Puri station compound will be ready for public use by January 2025.

The Prime Minister dedicated 100 per cent electrification of the rail network in Odisha. It will bring down the operating and maintenance cost, significantly reducing reliance on imported crude oil.

Earlier in March 2023, Railways announced that it has achieved 100 per cent electrification of the existing 2,822-kilometer route of the Broad- Gauge network in Odisha.

The electrification of the Broad Gauge networks is likely to reduce travel time by increasing the speed of trains.

The complete electrification of railway lines in Odisha is in line with the target of Railways to become a net zero carbon emitter by 2030.

Currently, Broad Gauge routes in seven zones, including the Central Railway, North Central Railway, East Coast Railway, North Eastern Railway, South Eastern Railway, Eastern Railway, and West Central Railway, have completed 100 per cent electrification.

The Prime Minister also dedicated the doubling of the Sambalpur Titlagarh-Rail line.

Work on the much-awaited dualisation of the Sambalpur- Titlagarh railway section was completed in late 2022.

The process for the duplication project of the 182 km long line had started in 2009 and the work of various parts had been going on in stages.

It will improve port connectivity, transportation of coal and boost the socio-economic development of Odisha and its adjoining states Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh.

Another project the Prime Minister flagged off was the 92.82 km long broad gauge single electrified railway line section between Budhapankh station in Angul district and Baghuapala station near Sukinda in Jajpur district.

Angul-Sukinda Railway Ltd (ASRL), which carried out the project, was incorporated as an SPV by the Railways Ministry through Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd. (RVNL) in 2009 for the construction and maintenance of the broad-gauge single line between Budhapank and Baghuapala.

The new rail line connects the iron-ore-rich areas of Joda and Barbil to the steel and sponge iron industries in the Angul region. It also makes for a shorter and congestion- free alternative route between the coal mining belts of Talcher to the coal-based thermal power plants in Kalinganagar.

The Prime Minister also launched the third line connecting Manoharpur-Rourkela- Jharsuguda-Jamga and a new broad-gauge line between Bichhupali and Jhartarbha.

These will cater to the increased traffic demands as a result of rapid industrial development in the steel, power and mining sectors in Odisha and also help ease the pressure on passenger traffic in these sections.

Between them, these projects add up to over Rs 8,200 crore worth of railway investment in the state.

The event was conducted via video conferencing at, allowing the Prime Minister to remotely inaugurate these crucial initiatives.

The inauguration of these railway projects by PM Modi in Odisha marks a significant milestone in the state’s infrastructure development.

With improved connectivity, modernised stations, electrification, and expanded rail lines, these initiatives are likely to enhance transportation efficiency, boost economic growth, and elevate the overall travel experience for both residents and tourists in the state.

These projects reflect the vision of the Prime Minister for a balanced development of the states. As he observed, it is the endeavour of the country that no state should fall behind in the race for development due to a lack of resources.

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