Union Home Minister for Home Affairs Amit Shah on Thursday flagged off Vande Bharat Express, a world class semi –high speed train with 16 coaches AC Chair Cars. from New Delhi for the convenience of the pilgrims to Mata Vaishno Devi in eight hours reducing journey time from 12 hours. It will halt at Ambala, Ludhiana and Jammu. The new Vande Bharat Express has windows with a special provision to protect against stone-pelting and a cattle guard in the front to prevent damage to the train or derailment in case of cattle run. It will run at a maximum speed of 130 kmph, the train will have around two-minute halts. The passenger friendly train is provided automatic doors, LED lightning, Wi-Fi, bio-vaccum toilets, comfortable seating and GPS based audio-visual information system. Speaking on the occasion, HM Amit Shah said Article 370 was a roadblock in the development of Jammu and Kashmir and that the journey of development in the region would begin with the launch of Delhi-Katra Vande Bharat Express. Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, Union Minister in PMO Jitendra Singh and Health and Family Welfare Minister Harsh Vardhan were also present at the function. The ministers said the twin moves of the government — abrogation of Article 370 provisions in J-K and launch of Delhi-Katra Vande Bharat Express – will bring new India to new Jammu and Kashmir and create a new history for the region. Flagging off the second edition of the indigenous train, Amit Shah said: “I believe that not only was Article 370 a roadblock for the unity of this country, but it was also the biggest roadblock for the development of Kashmir. I am sure that after the removal of this Article, we will be successful in completely eradicating terrorism and the ideas promoting terrorism in the area.””Within the next 10 years, Jammu and Kashmir will be one of the most developed regions of the country and the journey of development has begun with Vande Bharat Express which is set to boost development and promote religious tourism,” he said .Minister of State in the PMO Jitender Singh said the abrogation of Article 370 provisions in J-K was one gift for the people of the region after “three decades of struggle” and the launch of the train was another gift which would contribute in building “new Jammu and Kashmir”.”The Vande Bharat Express will bring new India to new Jammu and Kashmir,” he said. Train number 22439 New Delhi-Katra Vande Bharat Express will depart from the New Delhi Railway Station at 6 am to reach Katra at 2 pm. En route, the train will halt at Ambala Cantt, Ludhiana and Jammu Tawi for two minutes each. On the return journey the same day, train number 22440 Katra-New Delhi Vande Bharat Express will leave from the Katra Railway Station at 3 pm to reach the New Delhi Railway Station at 11 pm.Train 18 will ply on all days of the week except for Tuesday.”The abrogation of Article 370 has connected the people of this country to Jammu and Kashmir and I believe that this train will become the symbol of the development and progress that this region will see in the years to come because of this brave move by the government,” Goyal said.He also promised that railways will connect the rest of the country from Kashmir to Kanyakumari before August 15, 2022.This is the second Vande Bharat Express, the first runs between Delhi and Varanasi. The new train has a bigger pantry compared to the first Train 18 or Vande Bharat Express, that runs between Delhi and Varanasi. It also has windows with a special provision to protect against stone-pelting and a cattle guard in the front to prevent damage to the train or derailment in case of cattle run. To avoid damage due to stray cattle, the train has been equipped with a sturdy aluminium-clad nose cover (with picture courtesy to Livemint).
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