Update: The updated train timings of this extended train is as follows. It is slower than expected and takes 4 hours between Rourkela and Hatia. But those extra stops, many in Jharkhand, makes it easy for the Jharkhand people to accept this extension. That may be the reason it has these many stops in between.
(Thanks to rourkelacity.com for the pointer to this topic.)
Following is from a report in Telegraph.
… the Jammu Tawi-Hatia Express will be extended till Rourkela from November 12. Hitherto, Rourkela could enjoy the services of only Hatia-Puri Tapaswini Express, Hatia-Bhubaneswar Garib Rath Express and Hatia-Jharsuguda Passenger.
The above report is from the Jharkhand edition of Telegraph. It is nice to hear that they are taking this news positively, unlike many places which complain when a train originating/terminating from their city is extended.
Although this is a slow train with many stops, this will be the first direct connection between a city in Odisha and Jammu Tawi. The major en-route stops of this train are: Muri, Allahabad, Kanpur, Tundla, Aligarh, Delhi, Sonipat, Panipat, Kurukshetra, Ambala, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Amritsar and Pathankot Jn. From Ranchi it currently takes 30:25 hrs to Delhi. It takes about 2:30-3 hrs from Rourkela to Ranchi. So from Rourkela it will take about 33 hrs to Delhi. In comparison Utkal Express plus the 08177 Tata-JSG special takes 26:25 + 2:20 = 28:45hrs. So although it is not that good an alternative to travel to Delhi, it provides new connectivity between Rourkela to many other cities such as: Allahabad, Kanpur, Tundla, Aligarh, Sonipat, Panipat, Kurukshetra, Ambala, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Amritsar, Pathankot Jn and Jammu Tawi.
This extension is the result of the efforts of the people of Rourkela. Their movement to provide better connectivity and facilities at Rourkela should be energized by this initial result.
From an initial look, Rourkela has good connectivity to places in the west (Mumbai, Pune, Ahmedabad, etc.) and Kolkata.
With the above mentioned train the connectivity to Delhi will be decent and as mentioned their will be new connectivity to many new cities in the North. (Earlier there was only a biweekly train to/from Varanasi.)
In terms of connectivity to Southern cities the main trains are: the daily Allepey train with stoppages at Vizianagaram, Vizag, Vijaywada, Chennai, Coimbatore, Palghat, and Kochi (Ernakulum); thrice a week to/from Bangalore via Vijaywada and Tirupati; and weekly to Hyderabad. So the connectivity to Bangalore and Hyderabad needs to be improved urgently. Connectivity to/from Hyderabad could be easily improved by extending the biweekly Sambalpur-Nizamabad express to Rourkela. (One needs to check the current rake-sharing arrangements for it.)
The site http://rourkelarail.wetpaint.com/page/DEMANDS lists a bunch of demands from some railfans from Rourkela. It would help if they make a prioritized list of their demands for trains (new, extensions, frequency increases): Top, Top 3, Top 5. Note that diversions and rerouting of trains is extremely rare as the people in the current routes (who will lose that train) will oppose it. So such demands undermine the effort.