The city residents will have to wait longer for the Kalka-Katra train as the Ambala division of the Northern Railways has put the train on hold till the further notice.
The much awaited train was set to start from the next week on November 11, but was cancelled on the last minute due to the ongoing state assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir.
Ambala division railway manager AK Kathpal said the elections in the neighbouring state were the reason why the train was put on hold. "The next date has not been decided yet,"he said.
However, sources said the train was not expected to start till the time elections were on in the hilly state. It might linger on till January considering the possibility of time needed in the formation of a new government there. Poll counting in J&K is on December 23.
A senior official at the Chandigarh railway station said that the inquiries for booking had already begun after the media reported about the train starting from November 11. "But people will now have to wait little longer,"he added.
TRAIN PENDING SINCE FEBRUARY 2013
The eagerly awaited Kalka-Katra train was announced during the 2013 budget session. Initially, it could not be started because the security clearance of Udhampur-Katra rail section in Jammu and Kashmir was pending.
The track got the security clearance in July this year after which, the Northern Railways began the daily service between Delhi and Katra, besides extending three trains on Pathankot-Jammu-Tawi-Udhampur section till Katra station, thereby helping lakhs of devotees who visit Vaishno Devi shrine. But the wait is yet not over for local residents.
Vijay Nalwa, a local resident, said that the news about cancellation of the train had shelved their plans to visit the shrine in near future.
Another resident Subhash said the train was badly needed as every year thousands of local devotees travel to Vaishno Devi Shrine Broad. There are several groups who arrange buses till Katra too, but face a lot of hassle in taking along so many people. "The train is important to make the journey comfortable for the local residents," he said.
Meanwhile, the train, once started, will run biweekly on Tuesday and Friday at 7pm from Kalka and 7.55pm from Chandigarh and reach the next morning at around 7am.
The train number 14503 comprises A/c first, second and third tier each, besides general and sleeper class coaches. The train will stop at SAS Nagar, Morinda, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Pathankot and Jammu before reaching Katra.