(Eds: With byline, addition in intro, headline) New Delhi, Feb 15 (PTI) Railway Minister Piyush Goyal Friday said going ahead with the inauguration of the Vande Bharat Express according to schedule was a message to terrorists behind the Pulwama attacks that India will not bow down to terror.Also Read - On Camera, Masked Men Loot UP Businessman's Office On Gunpoint In Prayagraj

He said the decision to continue with the flagging off programme was inspired by the way Mumbai reacted by showing their resilience in the aftermath of the 26/11 attacks. Also Read - Bharati Bhawan Library, Established Since Pre-Independence, Faces House Tax Notice

Forty CRPF personnel were killed and five injured on Thursday when a Jaish-e-Mohammed suicide bomber rammed a vehicle carrying over 100 kg of explosives into their bus in Pulwama district. Also Read - CWG 2022, Day 7 India at Birmingham Highlights: Sudhir, Murali Sreeshankar Create History, Clinch Gold and Silver Respectively

“The way Mumbai answered them, with everybody going to their work discharging their responsibilities, similarly the Vande Bharat Express today was dedicated to the nation on time in the service of its people.

“This is the biggest answer to the terrorists. Neither our jawans nor our people would ever bow before them,” he said on board the train which is on its inaugural run between Delhi and Varanasi on Friday.

Goyal said the country and its soldiers are capable of answering the terrorists in a befitting manner.

India’s first semi-high speed train, the Vande Bharat Express, was flagged off by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday from the New Delhi Railway Station amid sombre mood in the backdrop of the terror attack in Pulwama.

Goyal and members of the Railway Board were present on the occasion and will be on board the train on its inaugural journey.

“I am grateful to designers and engineers behind the Vande Bharat Express which will take its first trip from Delhi to Varanasi today. With our sincerity and hardwork in the last four-and-half years we have tried to improve railways,” the prime minister said at the flagging off event.

The train will travel from Delhi to Varanasi in nine hours and forty-five minutes. This includes stoppage time of 40 minutes each at Kanpur and Allahabad where there will be special programmes.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.