Madhepura (Bihar), Apr 10 (PTI) The first high-power electric locomotive was today rolled out from the railway factory here, over 10 years after the project was approved.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged off the 12,000-horsepower freight electric locomotive assembled at the Madhepura factory, a joint venture between the Indian Railways and French manufacturing firm Alstom, remotely from Bihar’s Matihari.

He also flagged off the Champaran Humsafar Express between Katihar and Old Delhi, and laid the foundation stone of a project for doubling of railway tracks in Muzzafarpur-Sagauli (100.6 km) and Sagauli-Valmikinagar (109.7 km) sections.

The prime minister was in Motihari to attend an event to mark 100 years of Mahatma Gandhi’s Champaran Satyagrah with an aim to spread the message of Swachh Bharat.

He said the Madhepura factory was important for two reasons. “Firstly, this is a glowing example of ‘Make in India’ and second, this factory is becoming a medium of generating employment in this area,” he said.

The Madhepura rail factory was approved in 2007, but the work had been pending for eight years, he said.

“Three years before, the NDA government at the Centre started working on it and now the first phase is ready,” he said.

The loco factory has a capacity to manufacture 110 loco per annum. The railways has set a target of manufacturing 800 locos (five assembled and 795 manufactured) over a period of 11 years.

The prime minister flagged off the Champaran Humsafar Express commemorating the centenary of the Champaran Satyagraha. The Champaran Humsafar Express will facilitate faster, safer and comfortable journey experience to common man of North Bihar. The train will run bi-weekly – Tuesdays and Fridays — covering a distance of 1,383 km, according to an official statement.

“I am getting this opportunity to start a new train on the occasion of 100 years of the Champaran Satyagraha. This train has been specially named Champaran Humsafar Express. Complete with modern amenities, this train will make travelling between Bihar and Delhi extremely easy and comfortable,” he said.

The track-doubling project will have huge impact on local movement and cover districts of Muzaffarnagar, East Champaran and West Champaran.

Approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs in February 2018, the two sections — Muzzafarpur-Sagauli and Sagauli-Valmikinagar — are being built at an estimated cost of Rs 2,401 crore.

The project will ensure higher speeds, reduce delays, enhance safety by allowing more time for block maintenance and provide additional capacity for future increase in traffic, officials said.

It will also decongest the entire route from Gorakhpur to Muzaffarpur. The project is also expected to generate about 50.47 lakh man-days direct employment during construction of the line.

The doubling will also boost sugar, jute, forest-based and other industries and extended market to their products. The faster connectivity for the people of the area to Uttar Pradesh and Delhi will also enhance trade and commerce with Nepal as well.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.