Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday flagged off a Vande Bharat Express on the Puri–Rourkela route through video conferencing.
This was Odisha's second Vande Bharat Express as the first semi-high-speed train service from Puri to Howrah was inaugurated in May.
Odisha Governor Ganeshi Lal, Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and several MLAs graced the occasion at the Bhubaneswar railway station.
Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw was also present at the programme virtually.
Speaking on this occasion, Pradhan said, "Today is a historic and proud day for Odisha and also for the country as nine Vande Bharat Express trains have simultaneously been flagged off." Vaishnaw had, in May, announced that the second Vande Bharat Express in Odisha would be launched soon.
Pradhan requested the PM and Vaishnaw to start such train services from Puri to Raipur.
"Many developmental work in the railway sector has been undertaken by the central government. Fifty-seven railway stations in Odisha are being redeveloped with an estimated cost of Rs 1,400 crore," he said.
The semi-high-speed express train will connect Puri, the abode of Lord Jagannath, with the Steel City Rourkela.
The train will also connect Bhubaneswar with industrial areas at Angul and Jharsuguda, and will run six days a week except Saturday, a railway official said.
The new Vande Bharat Express will cover a distance of 505 km in 7.45 hours from Puri to Rourkela.
The express train will depart Puri at 5 am and will reach Rourkela at 12:45 pm on the same day.
On its return journey, it will leave Rourkela station at 2:10 pm and reach Puri at 9.40 pm.
The train will have stoppages at Khurda Road, Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Dhenkanal, Talcher Road, Angul, Rairakhol, Sambalpur City and Jharsuguda.
The new Vande Bharat train will reduce the average travel time between Puri and Rourkela as compared to Puri-Yog Nagari Rishikesh Express which takes 11.50 hours, and Puri-Hatia Tapaswini Express, which takes 10.25 hours, the official added.
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