The Railways are running 400 special trains to deal with the Holi rush this season and said this year there was an unexpected rush of Vaishno Devi-bound passengers at the New Delhi railway station.
Most of these special trains will run to destinations in Bihar and Eastern Uttar Pradesh, as always, but an unusual number of them will run to Jammu, thanks to this unforeseen rush.
Three special trains were started initially for Jammu Tawi but that was not enough. On Friday, a day before the railways’ Holi week commenced, Northern Railway introduced one more special train to Jammu.
“The rush is such that the regular Jammu-bound trains originating from Delhi —two from New Delhi and one from Old Delhi — are packed for the weekend. The specials, too, are almost full already. A great majority of the rush is for the Vaishno Devi shrine, which is a bit odd because usually this rush is during summer holidays and the Navratras,” said Northern Railway spokesman Rajiv Saxena.
Apart from monitoring ticket reservation figures in the last one-month period, the rush to Viashno Devi was also noticed through enquiries. “Passenger Reservation System (PRS) counters and authorised agents were flooded with enquiries about connectivity to Vaishno Devi,” he said.
Like Jammu, railways have also started two special trains to Dehradun this year. Like in the case of Jammu, an extra special train to Dehradun was added a day prior to the start of the rush week, thanks to the demand.
Tours and travel operators are, obviously, elated. “The three-day weekend amid the rising temperature in Delhi has made people reach for these cooler places,” said Raji Rai, vice-president of Travel Agents’ Association of Iindia. “We have noticed that the younger generation is keen on exploring new destinations. While Jammu and Dehradun were favourite among the old-timers, the young lot could never explore places like Jammu due to terrorism threats. But that is changing now,” he said.