“Chalo Bulawa Aya Hai, Mata Ne Bulaya Hai” is the famous chant of the millions of devotees, who visit the Vaishno Devi shrine in Jammu every year. The road is bumpy, hazardous and they take a lot of pain to get a glimpse of the almighty goddess. However, they have something to cheer about. Thanks to Indian Railways, their journey will become easier now.
The new 25 km-long Uddhampur-Katara rail link is almost complete and it could become operation in the first week of July. Once that happens, the Mail, Express and Local trains would go up to Katara, which is the basecamp for all Vaishno Devi devotees. Vaishno Devi shrine is just 15 km away from Katara.
A high-level railway team will visit and review the new rail link before giving it the go-ahead. While most of the work on this route is done, the laying of ballastless track on the 3.1 km long T1 tunnel is pending, which will be completed shortly.
Among other trains, the New Delhi-Uddhampur Uttar Sampark Kranti, Jammu Mail, Delhi Sarai Rohilla-Uddhampur Express, Ahmedabad-Uddhampur Express and Delhi-Pathankot Express are expected to be extended till Katara once the line is operational. In addition, many local trains would be pressed into the service for the benefits of the devotees.
Currently, Katara has three platforms and will have two more soon. While making the journey to Vaishno Devi, the pilgrims stop at Jammu and then move to Katara. With the new route becoming operational, they won’t have to break their journey. The Uddhampur-Katara rail route is built at an estimated cost of Rs 960 crore. It consists of seven tunnels and thirty small and big bridges.