Modi govt increased railways budget for NE, helped expedite projects: Ashwini Vaishnaw

Guwahati: Rail Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw on Monday said before 2014, the allocation for the railways for the northeast was Rs 2,000 crore but, under the Modi government, it has increased to Rs 10,200 crore, helping expedite projects in the region.

Talking to reporters at the Guwahati railway station before the launch of the Guwahati-New Jalpaiguri Vande Bharat Express, he also said by June, all states where electrification of routes has been done, will have the semi-high speed service.

These indigenously manufactured trains are being prepped to replace Shatabdis, Rajdhanis and local trains.

The first Vande Bharat train for the northeast will connect Guwahati in Assam to New Jalpaiguri in West Bengal.

The train, the 18th in the series, was flagged off by Prime Minister Narendra Modi via videoconferencing.

Vaishnaw said, “Fifteen to 20 years ago, whatever good things used to happen used to go to the big cities, these took time to reach the northeast.”

However, after the Modi government came to power, it “changed the mindset” and, for the northeast, “Look East” was transformed into “Act East”, the minister said.

He highlighted that before 2014, the allocation for the railways for the northeast was Rs 2,000 crore.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi doubled it, tripled it and making it five times has made it Rs 10,200 crore,” he said and added that this has expedited works and projects in the region.

The Guwahati-New Jalpaiguri Vande Bharat aims to provide the people of the region the means to travel with speed and comfort as well as boost tourism in the region, according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office.

The latest Vande Bharat will help save about an hour of journey time, compared to the current fastest train connecting Guwahati and New Jalpaiguri. It will cover the journey in five-and-a-half hours while the current fastest train takes about six-and-a-half hours to cover the distance, the statement added.

On May 25, during the launch of the Dehradun-Delhi Vande Bharat, Vaishnaw said there would be three versions of Vande Bharat trains — Vande Chair Car, Vande Metro and Vande Sleepers — by February-March.

During his interaction with reporters on Monday, Vaishnaw, who also holds the communications portfolio, said the number of telecom towers in the northeast has increased from 20,000 to 1 lakh in the nine years of the Modi government.