New Delhi: The much-delayed train service to Katra, the base camp to the famous Vaishno Devi shrine in Jammu and Kashmir, is likely to start from February 2.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is likely to flag off a passenger train from Katra, marking its rail connectivity with rest of the country, sources in Northern Railway said.
The Commissioner Raiway Safety (CRS), Northern Zone, will inspect the 25-km long Udhampur-Katra section next week. The trial run has already been completed.
"CRS inspection, crucial for commissioning of a new line, will be carried out for three days from January 27. After obtaining the CRS clearance, the line will be open for regular train services," the sources said.
Besides the CRS, senior railway officals including DRM of Ferozpur Division will be visiting the site next month to ensure smooth commissioning of the new line.
The train connectivity to Katra is a part of the ambitious Kashmir rail link project and has been executed at an estimated cost of Rs 1050 crore.
The train services would prove to be a boon for the lakhs of pilgrims who visit the shrine every year. At present, they depend on road transport.
Udhampur-Katra route was slated to be commissioned during October but it got delayed after a portion of a tunnel caved in. The agitation in the valley last year also delayed completion of the section as the workers involved in the project left the site.
To begin with, two trains -- Delhi-Katra Express and
Kalka-Katra Express -- will run on the section. More trains would be added in the coming months, the sources said.
The 25-km stretch to Katra is an engineering marvel as the route has seven tunnels, 29 minor and nine major bridges with some of the bridges as high as 85 metres.
Katra station itself would boast of several facilities of an A-class station which includes a VIP lounge and a spacious parking lot. The four platforms could accommodate 26-coach trains.