By Anand Singh
New Delhi, July 18 (IANS) The Indian Railways is hopeful of getting the approval of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to run another Vande Bharat Express, this one between New Delhi and Katra in Jammu and Kashmir, senior railway officials said on Thursday.
An official told IANS on the condition of anonymity: “The proposal to run a second Vande Bharat Express between New Delhi and Katra is with the PMO. We are hopeful of getting a nod in the coming week.”
The official said the plan to run the second Vande Bharat Express, earlier known as Train 18, between Delhi and Katra was sent for clearance a few weeks ago.
The Railway Board decided to run the indigenously built high speed train between Delhi and Katra, the base for the Vaishno Devi shrine, after the success of the train now plying between New Delhi and Varanasi which has completed over 1.5 lakh running km in five months.
The train, capable of attaining a speed of 200 kmph, will cut down the travelling time between Delhi and Katra by over five hours.
Currently, a Superfast train takes about 12 hours to reach Katra from Delhi, covering a distance of about 655 km. The Vande Bharat Express will consume only eight hours.
The official said the route was identified by the Railway Board in order to capitalize on the high traffic volume, which sees a lot of footfall due to the Vaishno Devi temple.
The Railway Board proposes to run the train three days — Monday, Thursday and Saturday. But it can be extended to five days a week depending on the demand.
The Vande Bharat Express will leave from Delhi at 6 a.m. and reach Katra at 2 p.m. The same day, it will depart from Katra at 3 p.m. and reach the national capital at 11 p.m.
The official pointed out that the train would be run at a maximum speed of 130 kmph on the Delhi-Katra route with three stops: Ambala, Ludhiana and Jammu Tawi before reaching Katra.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had flagged off the first Vande Bharat Express on February 15 this year.
The Integral Coach Factory, which manufactured Train 18, has made changes in the existing design of the train.
“To avoid damage due to stray cattle, the train has been equipped with a sturdy aluminium-clad nose cover. And to guard the window shields against stone pelting, a special film on windows has been provided,” the official said.
More space has been provided to store meals for passengers.
Besides the changes in the exterior and interior designs, the ICF has added a slew of modern features like adjustable seats, improved wash basins, automatic doors, WiFi and infotainment system among others.
(Anand Singh can be contacted at [email protected])