NEW DELHI: Riding high on the success of the Vande Bharat Express currently plying on the New Delhi-Varanasi route, the Indian Railways is planning another set of trains between the national capital and Katra for pilgrims travelling to the Vaishno Devi shrine.
According to senior railway ministry officials related to the development, the Indian Railways is planning to run another set of Vande Bharat Express, which was earlier known as Train 18 between New Delhi and Katra in Jammu and Kashmir.
An official said that the train, which is capable of attaining a speed of 200 kmh, will cut down the travelling time between the two stations by over five hours. He said currently a superfast train takes about 12 hours to reach the destination.
The high-speed Vande Bharat Express will cover the distance within eight hours. The official pointed out that the route has been identified by the Railway Board in order to capitalize on the high traffic volume, which sees a lot of footfall due to Vaishno Devi temple shrine.
The official said that the new set of Train 18 is likely to commence operations between Delhi and Katra from next month onwards. He said that currently it has been proposed to run the train for three days a week -- Monday, Thursday and Saturday.
The official said the new Vande Bharat Express will leave from Delhi at 6:00 a.m. and reach Katra at 2:00 p.m. And on its return journey on the same day, the train will depart from Katra at 3:00 p.m. and reach the national capital at 11 p.m.
He said it has been decided to run the train at a maximum speed of 130 kmh on the Delhi-Katra route will have three stops en route. The train will stop at Ambala, Ludhiana, and Jammu Tawi before reaching its destination of Katra.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had flagged off the services of first Vande Bharat Express on February 15 this year. The official said that following the recommendation from the railway officials the Integral Coach Factory, which manufactured the Train 18, has also made changes in the existing design of the train.
"To avoid damage due to cattle run-over, the train has been equipped with a sturdy aluminium-clad nose cover and to guard the window shields against stone pelting, a special anti-spall film on windows has been provided," he said.
The official said the ICF has also provided more space to store meals for passengers. Besides the changes in the exterior and the interior designs, the ICF has also added a slew of modern features like adjustable seats, improved washbasins, automatic doors, WiFi and infotainment system among others.