The Vande Bharat train flagged off by Prime Minister Narendra Modi this week is being seen as the biggest election eve gift in Himachal Pradesh, which has otherwise remained awfully deprived of railway expansions and semi-high speed express trains.
India’s fourth Vande Bharat train between Himachal’s Una and national capital New Delhi is seen as the biggest smart-travel facility for Himachal Pradesh so far. The train was launched on Thursday — a day before the Election Commission (EC) announced assembly elections schedule in Himachal.
The Vande Bharat train aims to cut travel time between Himachal and Delhi and introduce a smart travel facility for pilgrims and tourists.
The Vande Bharat train flagged off earlier today will improve connectivity and give an opportunity for many more people to explore the natural beauty and spirituality of Himachal Pradesh. pic.twitter.com/GZnqjmLEka— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) October 13, 2022
Vande Bharat train to cut dependence on roads
Himachal Pradesh largely depends on roadways, including the National Highways (NHs), which are prone to being damaged by landslides, particularly during the monsoons.
The lack of reliable air and railway connectivity are two big reasons for Himachal losing on the tourism front to Kashmir.The newly-launched Vande Bharat train will connect Dharamshala and McLeodganj too — the abode of Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and favourite of tourists and travellers.
“Tourism will get a big boost in this sector because of the Vande Bharat train. Apart from this, pilgrims coming to worship famous deities like Chintpurni, Jawalaji, Maa Brijeshwari, Naina Devi, and Chaumanda mata will have great an advantage,” says Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA from Una and minister Virender Kanwar.
He further tells Outlook, “The transport department —Haryana Road Transport Corporation— has decided to introduce special buses and Volvo service for in-bound and out-bound tourists and pilgrims for these religious places.”
Traders to also get a boost
As the duration of the journey has been reduced drastically, the traders from Una will have a safer, more secure, and easier mode of travel to places like Chandigarh, Ambala, and Delhi.
“The new Vande Bharat train is advanced compared to the others. The wi-fi equipped train with air-conditioned bogies and flexible seats is really a comfort. It will just take five hours to reach Delhi against seven to eight hours earlier,” says Ashish Sharma, a Una-based businessman.
Vande Bharat a boost for Himachal tourists, pilgrims
The tourists travelling to Kullu and Manali will be doubly blessed as the new train, which starts from New Delhi at 5.50 am, will reach Amb Andaura Railway Station by 11.05 am. From there, the tourists can travel by road to Manali. A four-lane project is already at an advanced stage.
Una to New Delhi Vande Bharat train will depart from Amb Andaura Railway Station at 1 pm and will reach New Delhi Railway Station at 6:25 pm.
Amit Sharma, a local journalist, tells Outlook that BJP MP and Union minister Anurag Thakur has a dream to get Hamirpur —his constituency and home town— connected to railways via Una. Vande Bharat will also provide further connectivity to Hamirpur through buses, taxis, and cars.
The Sikh pilgrimage town of Anandpur Sahib will also be benefitted by the train due to its stoppage at Nangal Dam. This means Punjab travellers can also use the train.
Una, Kangra, Hamirpur, and Bilaspur have lots of persons serving in the Indian Army. The train will be a boon for them in making their journeys short and comfortable.
The train will cover three states of Punjab, Haryana, and Himachal Pradesh and two Union territories of Delhi and Chandigarh.
Now with foundation stone for Rs 1,900 crore Bulk Drug Park having been laid at Haroli in Una, the investors will find the train quite useful for their frequent visits to this industrial corridor and also to Nalagarh-Baddi-Brotiwala.
“Vande Bharat Express is also environmentally friendly as ACs will be 15 per cent more energy efficient. The industrial belt of Gagret, Amb, Haroli, and Nalagarh will also have a lot of benefits in the future,” says Tilak Raj Sharma, Additional Director (Industries), Government of Himachal Pradesh.