Railway Minister flags off new Vaishno Devi Express between Bengaluru-Katra

बेंगलुरू Bengaluru (SBC): Railway Minister Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu Thursday flagged off a premium train here connecting India’s tech hub to Katra town, 13km from Mata Vaishno Devi shrine in Jammu and Kashmir.

Though Prabhu’s predecessor D.V. Sadananda Gowda announced the weekly express in this fiscal (2014-15) railway budget in July last year, pressure from devotees of the Hindu goddess Durga made the mandarins hurry up with the new train which will cover 3,246km in 56 hours and 40 minutes.

“We had to work out the logistics and schedule for the special inaugural train in the busy time table, connecting south and north, which makes the trip longest from here to north India,” a South Western Railway (SWR) official told on the occasion.

Though Prabhu also flagged off three other weekly premium trains to Kamakhya in Assam, Patna in Bihar and Tatanagar in Jharkhand, the superfast pilgrim train (# 22679/22680) to Katra will run every Saturday at 11:30am from Feb 7 and will depart from Yesvantpur junction in the city’s northern suburb.

“It’s a great relief for us, especially senior citizens, to have a direct train to Katra on the foothills of the Mata Devi shrine. Though the travel is tedious and over two days, we don’t have to alight in Delhi or board another train en-route or bus from Jammu for the pilgrimage,” S. Gopalacharya, 64, a retired lecturer, told.