Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday asked officials of her department to ensure that sportspersons do not face any hurdles so that they can excel in their field.

“Railways want to encourage sports in different fields. We want to motivate players so that they bring laurel to the country without any hindrance,” Ms. Banerjee said, flagging off the first Duronto Express from Sealdah to New Delhi here today.

On the occasion, the Railways felicitated 27 sportspersons, including Indian Women’s cricket team and Railways badminton team.

Both the teams were given Rs 5 lakh each, while five sportpersons including Olympic bronze medallist Sushil Kumar were awarded Rs 1 lakh each.

The Olympian wrestler, who is currently away in Denmark, could not take part in the function.