Khurda Road-Balangir railway line project fast-tracked, to be completed soon: Vaishnaw

Once completed the project, of which only around 96 km has been completed, will provide a vital railway link to some of the most backward districts of the State.

Published: 10th September 2021 09:39 PM  |   Last Updated: 10th September 2021 09:39 PM   |  A+A-

Union Minister for Railways Ashwini Vaishnaw and Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan flagging off the new LHB coaches of Hirakhand Express on Friday. EPS

Express News Service

BHUBANESWAR: Union Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw on Friday said the Khurda Road-Balangir railway line project has been fast-tracked after the Odisha government recently acquired 97 acres of land.

While two km of the new line has been laid, construction of seven minor bridges has been completed in the last one month besides the initiation of works for 39 minor bridges and seven major bridges.

Providing a status update on the much-awaited project as he had assured during his recent visit to Odisha, Vaishnaw said, 23,000 sq metre of turfing has also been completed and 25,000 slippers transported. The project will be completed on a priority, he assured.

Sanctioned in 1994-95, the 289-km project was stuck due to a delay in land acquisition. Once completed the project, of which only around 96 km has been completed, will provide a vital railway link to some of the most backward districts of the State. The highest Rs 1,000 crore has been sanctioned for the project in the 2021-22 rail budget.

Flagging off the new modern LHB rake of Bhubaneswar-Jagadalpur-Bhubaneswar Hirakhand Express through video conferencing from New Delhi, the Railways Minister said several other pending railway projects including Koraput-Rayagada doubling, Jeypore-Malkangiri, Jeypore-Koraput, Gunupur-Therubali, Talcher-Bimlagarh and Angul-Sukinda line have also been expedited.

"Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been stressing upon the need for bringing about reforms in Railways. The vision is to make a wholesome transformation and not just incremental changes. Our government is pursuing the pending projects on an express mode. Every year Rs 6,000 crore to Rs 7000 crore is being sanctioned in the budget for the development of rail infrastructure in Odisha. The government is committed to providing better connectivity and amenities to passengers," he said.

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Vaishnaw had travelled with the passengers in Hirakhand Express and taken their feedback about the rail services during his recent Jan Ashirwad Yatra. "Though the passengers gave full marks to cleanliness, they were not okay with the condition of the coaches. I decided to immediately change the old coaches and my officers made it possible within a short span. The LHB rakes in Hirakhand Express will provide a better and more pleasant journey experience to train passengers," he added.

On misappropriation of postal deposits in Koraput and Malkangiri, Vaishnaw informed that 37 officials have been indicted and disciplinary action has been initiated against them. While 70 claims have been received from depositors, 10 have been settled so far.

Speaking on the occasion Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said special attention is being given to the eastern region for development in railway, national highway, air connectivity, and other infrastructure projects.

So far, 1257 coaches of 39 pairs of Mail and Express trains plying through East Coast Railway (ECoR) jurisdiction have been replaced with LHB coaches and the rest 2100 coaches will be replaced soon.

State Minister Ashok Panda, MP Saptagiri Sankar Ullaka and MLAs Suresh Routray, Tara Prasad Bahinipati, Ananta Narayan Jena, Susant Kumar Rout and Makaranda Muduli were present at Bhubaneswar station.

Hirakhand Express covers its journey of 784 km from Bhubaneswar to Jagdalpur having stoppages at 21 intermediate stations in Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh.

On-board passengers of the train can now enjoy the scenic beauty of valley, tunnels, fauna, and flora along the route with the comfortable ride in a modern LHB coach that is anti-telescopic and jerk-free having bigger windows and aesthetic modular interiors.


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