New Vande Bharat trains will provide a high speed rail connection between the economic centres of Mumbai and Pune and centres of faith in other parts of Maharashtra, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on February 10, 2023, as he flagged off two Vande Bharat trains set to ply between Mumbai and the pilgrim towns of Shirdi and Solapur.
“It is a big day for Indian Railways, specifically so for Mumbai and Maharashtra in terms of modern connectivity. For the first time, we are inaugurating two Vande Bharat trains at one go,” said Mr. Modi, addressing an enthused crowd at Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus.
The train fares range between ₹1,300 to ₹2,365 for AC Chair Car and Executive Class tickets respectively, for the Mumbai-Solapur Vande Bharat Express. For the Mumbai-Shirdi route, the fare ranges between ₹975 to ₹1,840.
“Passengers plying for education, office work, farmers and devotees will all benefit from this train service. This service will boost tourism and pilgrimage in Maharashtra to a large extent considering there are place of religious importance like the Sai Baba temple in Shirdi, Ramkund in Nasik or the nearby Trimbakeshwar and Panchvati areas,” Mr. Modi said. Similarly, the proximity to Pandharpur, Solapur’s Siddeshwar temple, Swami Samarth’s temple in Akkalkot and Tulja Bhawani’s temple will also benefit devotees and tourists. As the train snakes through the Sahayadri ghats, tourists will also be able to experience nature’s ephemeral beauty, the PM added.
‘Infrastructure creates jobs’
Up to 108 districts in 17 States have been connected by Vande Bharat trains, said Mr. Modi, emphasising the need to improve public transport systems to elevate the ease of living for citizens. “For the first time in the history of India, ₹10 lakh crore has been allocated to development of infrastructure. The Railways take up a lion’s share of ₹2.4 lakh crore here,” he said.
The PM pointed out that every penny invested in infrastructure would open up new avenues for employment. “The cement, sand, iron, machines that go into this development, each industry linked to these is strengthened. The business-class, salaried class and the poor benefit from this. Engineers and labourers get jobs. When infrastructure is created, it paves the way for new business opportunities,” he said.