Union minister for steel and mining Narendra Singh Tomar flagged off the weekly train between Gwalior and Gonda (125 km northeast of Lucknow) to commemorate the 90th birthday of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee at the Gwalior railway station on Thursday.
The train, Susashan Express, apparently complements Susashan Diwas (Good Governance Day), the much publicised campaign by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The new weekly train Gwalior-Gonda Susashan Express (11111/11112) will depart on every Wednesday at 1.10pm and reach the destination on Thursday at 7.30am. On return, it will depart from Gonda every Thursday at 9.30am and reach Gwalior on Friday at 5.30am.
A lot of deliberations must have gone into finalising name for the train as proposed names like Janmbhumi-Karmbhumi and Gwalior Express were rejected earlier to connect with Atalji who was given Bharat Ratna award a day earlier.
As the railways wanted to dedicate one train service to Atal on his birthday, its planning schedule, including route selection, reflected haste on part of authorities. The weekly train for Gonda will take the longer route via Nizamuddin, Ghaziabad, Moradabad, and Bareilly to reach Lucknow.
On the contrary, the much shorter route for Lucknow and onward journey would have been via Bhind, Etawa, Kanpur etc. But, the safety commissioner's nod for this route was still awaited.
Earlier, commissioner of railway safety Prashant Kumar Vajpai, during the final trial run of Bhind-Etawa on December 5, had refused to give permission after noticing faults, including pillar cracks, on a river bridge.
On the sidelines of the function, Jhansi division DRM Naveen Chopra said technical glitches as pointed out by commissioner, railway safety, have been removed. "We hope that the track would be ready for final inspection soon," he said, but evaded questions whether route re-scheduling was done to meet the December 25 deadline.
"It would create unnecessary controversy. However the people of Gwalior region will benefit from this new train," added Chopra. Addressing the gathering at the railway station, Tomar expressed gratitude towards President Pranab Mukherjee and PM Narendra Modi for announcing names of Vajpayee and Madan Mohan Malviya for Bharat Ratna.
The new train, which is schedule to travel between Janmbhumi (birthplace) to Karmbhumi (workplace) of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, is the gift from the Union government for the people of Gwalior, he added.