Big News For Vaishno Devi Pilgrims: Bookings Open For India’s Second Vande Bharat Express Between Delhi-KatraTrain 18 Vande Bharat Express. (@proicfindrlys/Twitter)

Bringing cheer to people planning to visit the Vaishno Devi shrine near Jammu, Indian Railways have opened bookings for the semi high-speed Vande Bharat Express that will ply between Delhi and Katra from the coming 5 October.

Bookings have opened on the IRCTC website, for the indigenuosly built Train 18, now known as Vande Bharat Express. It will be flagged off by Home Minister Amit Shah on 3 October, and will be available for regular passengers from 5 October.

The railways have not applied the dynamic pricing principle for its fares on the new train. The minimum fare for travelling between New Delhi to Sri Mata Vaishno Devi Katra station in the chair car is Rs 1,630, while the fare for the executive chair car is priced at Rs 3,015.

The Vande Bharat Express will run on all days of the week except Tuesday, and will cut the travel time between Delhi and Katra to just 8 hours, as compared to 12-14 hours required earlier to cover the distance of 655 km.

The train will depart from the New Delhi Railway Station at 6 am and will reach Katra at 2 pm. It will commence its return journey on the same day from Katra at 3 pm and reach New Delhi at 11 pm.

Railway officials here 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.

According to them, the decision to run the indigenously built high speed train between Delhi and Katra, the base for the trip to Vaishno Devi, was taken following the success of the Vande Bharat Express currently plying plying between New Delhi and Varanasi. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had flagged off the first Vande Bharat Express on 15 February this year.

The official said the route was identified by the Railway Board in order to capitalise on the high traffic volume on account of the Vaishno Devi temple pilgrims.

The Train 18 manufactures, Integral Coach Factory (ICF), have made changes to 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," a railway 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.

The story has been published using a syndicated feed, only the headline has been changed.

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