Kasaragod: Calling the flagging off of Kerala's second semi-high-speed train, the Vande Bharat Express, a joyous occasion, Union Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan said more such trains will reach the state.
Onboard the train, which was one among nine flagged off by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in an online ceremony, Muraleedharan said: “There are 34 trains now. More than 400 are yet to come."
Besides Muraleedharan, Chairman of Indian Railways' Passenger Amenities Committee (PAC) P K Krishnadas and Kerala Minister for Sports, Wakf and Haj Pilgrimage, Posts and Telegraph V Abdurahiman and BJP state president K Surendran were also onboard the new train.
Abdurahiman, speaking to reporters, said the Union Railway Minister had said that more stations cannot be added to the route of the first Vande Bharat Express to ensure the travel time is not increased.
"However, he assured us that the second train will connect Alappuzha and Malappuram and that there will be a stop at Tirur station. So, that has become a reality now.”
Surendran said the second train from Kasaragod, the northernmost district of Kerala, to Thiruvananthapuram in the south was a big blessing for the people of the state.
He also said that it would be beneficial to the development of the state and the Railways.
"A lot of states have not received two Vande Bharat trains and some important states have not got even one," he said.
Visuals of the train at Kasaragod station showed a huge crowd gathered there to see the new Vande Bharat Express and took selfies and videos alongside it.
After it was flagged off by PM Modi in an online ceremony, it started from Kasaragod to the beat of drums and songs at around 1 pm and is expected to reach the state capital late in the evening as it would be stopping at several stations in addition to the scheduled stops.
The second Vande Bharat train of Kerala comes in a new colour scheme of orange-grey, unlike the blue-white of the first one, with 8 coaches -- half of the earlier one.
The other differences include the addition of a new station -- Tirur -- and the stop at Kottayam being replaced with Alappuzha, a Railway official said.
From September 27 onwards, it will run from Thiruvananthapuram to Kasaragod and back with no service on Mondays when the train will undergo maintenance, the official said.
The new Vande Bharat trains flagged off by the PM will run between Udaipur-Jaipur; Tirunelveli-Madurai-Chennai; Hyderabad-Bengaluru; Vijayawada-Chennai (via Renigunta); Patna-Howrah; Kasaragod-Thiruvananthapuram; Rourkela-Bhubaneswar -Puri; Ranchi-Howrah; and Jamnagar-Ahmedabad.
These trains, equipped with world-class amenities and advanced safety features, including Kavach technology, will be a key step towards providing modern, speedy and comfortable means of travel to common people, professionals, businessmen, student community and tourists, the railways said in a statement.
Kerala's first Vande Bharat Express was flagged off in April by PM Modi from Thiruvananthapuram.
(With PTI inputs)