Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday described the launch of the New Delhi- Katra Vande Bharat Express as a "special Navratri gift" for Vaishno Devi pilgrims and said it will provide a big boost for tourism in Jammu and Kashmir.
"A Navratri gift for my sisters and brothers of Jammu as well as devotees of Maa Vaishno Devi! The New Vande Bharat Express from New Delhi to Maa Vaishno Devi, Katra will improve connectivity as well as spiritual tourism. Congratulations to everyone!" Modi tweeted along with the hashtag VandeBharatMaaKeDwar.
The prime minister pointed out in a subsequent tweet that with state-of-the-art facilities, 'Vande Bharat Express' built-in India, devotees can now reach Katra from Delhi in just 8 hours.
"This will not only boost the tourism of Jammu and Kashmir but will make pilgrims' journey comfortable. Jai Mata Di!," Modi tweeted.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Thursday flagged off the inaugural run of the new engine-less, and semi-high speed train Vande Bharat Express (Train 18) between New Delhi and Shri Mata Vaishno Devi, Katra.
Shah was accomped by Union ministers Piyush Goyal, Harsh Vardhan, Jitendra Singh and officials from the Indian Railways at the New Delhi junction.
The train will start its commercial run between New Delhi and Katra on October 5.
The train will ply throughout the week except for Tuesday. It will comprise of two Executive AC Chair Car and 12 Chair Car coaches, with stops at Ambala Cantt, Ludhiana, and Jammu Tawi railway stations.
The fare for the journey between New Delhi to Sri Mata Vaishno Devi Katra will cost Rs 1,630 in Chair Car coaches and Rs 3,015 in Executive AC Chair Car coaches.
The indigenously developed train Vande Bharat train can run up to a maximum speed of 160 kmph, one of the fastest in India.
Among the many features of the train include plush interiors, wi-fi service, bio vacuum toilets, GPS-based infotainment system and CCTV surveillance among other features.
( With inputs from ANI )