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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday flagged off a 17km stretch of India’s first regional rapid transit system (RRTS) in Ghaziabad, underlining his government’s commitment to improve the standard of living of citizens by bolstering the public transport system and hailing the country’s developmental progress on land, air and sea.
In a 40-minute speech delivered shortly after he flagged and took a ride in the Namo Bharat train connecting Sahibabad and Duhai Depot stations, Modi cited the successful G20 Summit, the historic touchdown of Chandrayaan-3 near the lunar south pole, and the impressive haul of medals at the Asian Games to say that India was writing a new saga of progress in every sector.
“Today is a historic day for India as the first rapid rail service has begun… Four years back, I laid the foundation stone of the project. Today, the services of Namo Bharat have started on the stretch from Sahibabad to Duhai Depot. I just want to say that we inaugurate the same projects that we lay the foundation stone for. And when this Meerut stretch is completed after a year or a year and a half, I will be there at your service,” Modi said, indicating that his government will be re-elected in 2024.
The RRTS priority corridor, comprising five stations, will open to the public on Saturday at 6am. The project in its entirety — an 82km corridor — will connect Delhi, Ghaziabad and Meerut, and is slated to open in 2025. Built at a cost of ₹30,000 crore, RRTS is expected to cut the travel time between Delhi and Meerut to an hour, using trains that can zip at a top speed of 180kmph.
“Today’s India launches 5G on its capabilities and takes it to all corners of the country. Today India does the highest digital transactions in the world…Namo Bharat is also Made in India,” said Modi, adding that the modern train service will define the journey of a new India’and its new resolutions.
The present decade will witness the transformation of railway services in the country, Modi added, listing premium initiatives such as the Namo Bharat and the Vande Bharat train services, and the ongoing facelift of railway stations under the Amrit Bharat initiative.
“I am not in the habit of small dreams and walking slowly. I want to give a guarantee to the young generation of today that by the end of this decade, Indian trains will be second to none in the world,” he added.
“Indian railway will achieve a new pedestal in the world in safety, cleanliness, facilities, coordination, sensitivity, and capability. Indian railway is not very far from the goal of 100 percent electrification. Trinity of Amrit Bharat, Vande Bharat and Namo Bharat will become a symbol of modern railways by the end of this decade,” Modi said.
The Amrit Bharat Station Scheme, launched in February by the ministry of railways, aims to upgrade and modernise a total of 1,275 stations across India. The foundation stone of 508 stations was laid on August 6, 2023, by Modi.
In his speech, Modi said India became the centre of attraction and curiosity with the hosting of the G20 Summit.
Built at a total cost of ₹30,000 crore, the Delhi-Meerut Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS) is an 82.15km-long, rapid rail corridor that will connect Delhi, Ghaziabad and Meerut, and the distance will be covered in less than 60 minutes. It is one of the three rapid rail corridors planned under Phase I of the RapidX project managed by the National Capital Region Transport Corporation.
Eight RRTS corridors have been identified for development in the National Capital Region. Three of them have been prioritised for implementation in the first phase — Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut, Delhi-Gurugram-SNB-Alwar, and Delhi-Panipat.
Modi called Namo Bharat a symbol of women’s empowerment. “On this new train, from driver to the entire crew, all are women. This is the symbol of growing women empowerment in India,” he said.
He promised to transform the railway system in the next 10 years. “The amount of money being spent in India on public transport now has never been seen before,” Modi said and asked people to take care of the trains. “Treat them like your personal property,” he said.
He said that civic ease was given the foremost priority in infrastructure, highlighting the ease that trains such as the Namo Bharat bring in the lives of the commuters and usher in new opportunities for the young, businessmen, and women .
Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, who was among those present at the inauguration, called it a Navratri gift. “The most populous state in the country has new infrastructure. This is the effort of the double-engine government that today five cities of Uttar Pradesh have metro rail services. In January, metro rail services will also begin in Agra. The construction of a ropeway service is also underway in Varanasi.”
Union housing and urban affairs minister Hardeep Singh Puri was also present in the inauguration.
RRTS, under the ministry of housing and urban affairs is an integrated, mass transit network which aims to ensure “balanced and sustainable urban development” through better connectivity and access across NCR.
The project’s first phase, or the 17km long priority corridor from Sahibabad to Duhai, was expected to become operational by March 2023.However, due to pending works in some stations, especially in Ghaziabad, it got delayed. The Delhi-Meerut route was chosen ahead of Delhi-Alwar and Delhi-Panipat projects due to high frequency of travellers and traffic between Delhi and Meerut.
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