Now, the journey to Vaishnodevi Temple of Katra would get much easier as several mail and express trains are expected to go up to Katra, Jammu & Kashmir from July 2013.
Work on the 25 km-long Uddhampur-Katra rail link is almost complete and Railways will hand it over to Commissioner Railway Safety for approval to run trains up to Katra.
The high-level railway team will also visit the Banihal- Qazigund line, which is expected to be operational this month.
The trains, including New Delhi-Uddhampur Uttar Sampark Kranti, Jammu Mail, Chandigarh-Katra Express, Delhi Sarai Rohilla-Uddhampur Express, Ahmedabad-Uddhampur Express, Delhi-Pathankot Express, among others are likely to reach Katra once the line is operational.
Besides, many local trains between Uddhampur and Katra will be pressed into service depending upon the demand.
Katra station is ready with three platforms and two more platforms will come up later.
With the commissioning of the new route, pilgrims will be able to reach the base camp of Vaishno Devi shrine at Katra without having to break their journey at Jammu.
The Udhampur-Katra rail route, coming up at an estimated cost of Rs 960 crore, passes through inhospitable terrain, making it an extremely challenging engineering project.
The route consists of seven tunnels and 30 small and big bridges, including a 185-feet high tunnel. A total of seven tunnels span over 10 km of the 25-km stretch.
An estimated 10 million devotees pay obeisance at the Vaishno Devi shrine every year.
Indian Railways will run six more trains connecting Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Katra to various destinations in the near future. These trains are:-
· Kalka-Katra Express (bi-weekly) via Morinda
· Bandra (T)-Katra Premium Express
· Howrah-Katra Premium Express
· Yesvantpur-Katra Premium Express
· Ahmedabad-Katra Express (weekly)
· Kamakhya-Katra Express (weekly)
At present, the following trains are running upto Katra :-
· 22461/22462 New Delhi-Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Katra Express.
· 74909/74910 Pathankot-Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Katra DMU.
· 74905/4906 Jammu Tawi-Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Katra DMU
· 74907/74908 Jammu Tawi-Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Katra DMU