Modi virtually flags off second Vande Bharat train in Katra

JAMMU — Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday virtually flagged off the second Vande Bharat train between Jammu and Kashmir’s Katra and New Delhi, with LG Manoj Sinha expressing hopes of a railway link between Kashmir and Kanyakumari early next year.

Union minister Jitendra Singh, who attended the ceremony in Katra, congratulated the people of the Union territory on the New Year’s gift of a second Vande Bharat train and said this was possible because of Modi’s commitment to work for the overall development of the region.

”In the coming months, the Kashmir-Kanyakumari railway link will be dedicated to the people by the prime minister. Not only the people of Jammu and Kashmir, but the entire country is also waiting for the completion of this historic project,” J-K Lieutenant Governor Sinha said.

He was addressing the function at the Katra railway station before the flagging-off of the Vande Bharat train by the prime minister.

The under-construction 111-km Katra-Banihal section of the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Railway Link (USBRL) is likely to be completed within the next four months, connecting Kashmir with Kanyakumari by train, according to officials.

”Today, among the six Vande Bharat trains to be flagged off by the prime minister, one is exclusively designated for the route from Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Katra to New Delhi. This will be the second Vande Bharat train for Jammu and Kashmir. It reflects Modi’s commitment to developing this Union territory,” Sinha said before the flag-off.

After August 2019, the LG said, the connectivity between Jammu and Kashmir and the rest of the country has witnessed an improvement.

”The first Vande Bharat train was flagged off between Katra and New Delhi in October 2019 and so far, 94 lakh pilgrims have visited the Vaishno Devi shrine and the pilgrim footfall is likely to cross 95 lakh by the end of this year which is the highest in the past 10 years…,” he said.

The work on upgrading the Jammu, Budgam and Udhampur railway stations at Rs 6,003 crore under the Amrit Bharat Scheme is going on at a fast pace, while several other stations in the Jammu region are also being upgraded, Sinha added.

He said the state-of-the-art Vistadome coach was introduced in Kashmir in October and the final location survey is going on for four new railway lines between Awantipora and Shopian, Anantnag and Pahalgam, Sopore and Kupwara and Baramulla and Uri.

”Under the leadership of the prime minister, the development of basic infrastructure to provide ease of travel, better facilities, job opportunities and connectivity to the last village was ensured. The whole country is seeing a picture of Jammu and Kashmir which is moving up in overall development, peace and prosperity under the guidelines of Modi,” Sinha said.

”The way the railway is laying its network in Jammu and Kashmir, experts will visit the place to know how the train reached Kashmir. The railway network is going to be a catalyst in changing the picture of J-K where one crore pilgrims visit Mata Vaishno Devi shrine and another two crore tourists reach the Valley,” Singh, a Lok Sabha member from the Udhampur parliamentary constituency, said. — (PTI)