New Delhi: Railway Minister Piyush Goyal on Friday said that going ahead with the inauguration of the Vande Bharat Express was a befitting reply to the terrorists who perpetrated the Pulwama attacks in which at least 40 CRPF jawans lost their lives.

Goyal 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.

At least 40 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.

“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 hard work 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 at 9 h and 45 min. This includes stoppage time of 40 minutes each at Kanpur and Allahabad where there will be special programmes.