Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday flagged off Vande Bharat Express train connecting Secunderabad with Visakhapatnam via video conferencing, saying that it will link the shared heritage of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
This train will be the eighth Vande Bharat Express to be introduced by Indian Railways and will be the first one connecting the two Telugu-speaking states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, covering a distance of around 700 km.
It will have stoppages at Visakhapatnam, Rajahmundry and Vijayawada stations in Andhra Pradesh and at Khammam, Warangal and Secunderabad stations in Telangana.
The introduction of the train from Telangana holds political significance also as the assembly elections are due in the state later this year, and the BJP is trying to emerge as a political alternative to the ruling Bharat Rashtra Samithi, which has been in power there since 2014, when the state came into existence after being carved out of Andhra Pradesh.
"Vande Bharat Express signifies that India wants the best of everything. It is a symbol of New India's capability and resolve," Modi said while flagging off the train.
"Work done in the last seven to eight years will transform the Indian Railway in the coming seven to eight years," the prime minister added further.
He informed that eight years prior to 2014, Telangana had a budget of less than Rs 250 crore for the Railways but today it has increased to Rs 3000 crore.
Modi added that many areas of Telangana like Medak are now connected by rail service for the first time.
He also noted that less than 125 kms of new rail lines were built in Telangana in the last years before 2014, while about 325 kms of new rail lines in Telangana in the last years.
The Prime Minister also informed that the work of 'track multi-tracking' of more than 250 kms has also been done in Telangana and added that the electrification of railway tracks in the state has gone up three times during this electrification period.
Modi said that Vande Bharat is also connected to Andhra Pradesh from one end and informed that the Central Government is continuously working to strengthen the rail network in Andhra Pradesh also.
Assembly elections are due in Andhra Pradesh next year, soon after the Lok Sabha polls.
The BJP is keen to establish its foothold in both the Telugu speaking states, where it has negligible presence.