Union railway minister Suresh Prabhu on Saturday flagged off the Kalka-Katra train through video conferencing from Bhunter airport in Kullu, Himachal Pradesh.
The train will ease travel of pilgrims from the area to Katra, where hundreds of thousands of people reach to pay obeisance at the Mata Vaishno Devi shrine every year.
Prabhu, who was on a day's trip to the district, arrived at around 10 am at Bhunter airport, where local BJP leaders welcomed him, but he failed to join enthusiastic crowds at the railway airport to flag off the new train.
Talking to reporters before flying back, Prabhu said the train service will ensure the comfort of devotees and that it will provide an impetus to spiritual tourism in the region.
Prabhu also used the occasion to shower praise on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose government at the Centre completed a year in office two weeks ago.
The minister said the nation is moving ahead on the path of progress with a fast pace and that the Centre is focusing on progress in all sectors like agriculture, horticulture, roads and railway.
Local BJP leaders tried to keep Suresh Prabhu away from the media, for reasons best known to them. Media persons had not been invited to cover the minister's visit.
(With agency inputs)