A month after the New Delhi-Katra Shri Shakti Express chugged off, the Kalka-Katra train is yet to get a green signal. Both the trains were announced during the 2013 budget session.
Initially, these trains could not be started because 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.
However, there is still no word on the much-awaited Kalka-katra train so far.
Former union railway minister and former Chandigarh member of Parliament Pawan Kumar Bansal said the Kalka-Katra train should have been
started by now since it was announced in the last budget. "Earlier there was technical problem since Udhampur-Katra rail section was waiting for the security clearance. Now when the track is already opened, any more delay in starting the Kalka-Katra train is injustice to people of the region who have been waiting for this train for long," he added.
A city resident, Subhash, asked if the Delhi-Katra train could be started on time, why was there a delay in launching the Kalka-Katra train? Another resident Surinder Singh Maken asked for immediate intervention of local MP Kirron Kher.
Neeraj Sharma, chief public relation officer, Northern Railways, said the Katra-Kalka train was definitely on the priority list of the railway board and would be started soon.
Meanwhile, residents have also sought that Kalka-Katra train be fully air-conditioned like Delhi-Katra train, which has first AC, five AC two-tier and nine AC three-tier coaches.
It departs everyday from New Delhi at 5:30pm to arrive at Katra at 5:10am the next day. It stops at Ambala Cantt, Ludhiana, Jalandhar Cantt, Pathankot Cantt, Jammu Tawi and Udhampur Stations enroute in both directions, before reaching Katra, base of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi shrine.