amit shah Vande Bharat Express
Union Home Minister Amit Shah flagged off the Vande Bharat Express from New Delhi.Twitter/ANI

Popularly known as Train 18, the Vande Bharat Express was launched by Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Thursday, October 3, from New Delhi. The Vande Bharat Express - India's fastest train - will begin its commercial run between New Delhi and Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Katra October 5 (Saturday) onwards.

Flagging off the train from the national capital, Amit Shah said, "Delhi-Katra Vande Bharat Express is a big gift for Jammu and Kashmir's development and for promoting religious tourism." Shah said the hurdles in the development of Kashmir had been erased with the abrogation of Article 370 that gave the erstwhile state a special status. "With the scrapping of Article 370, Kashmir has become a part of India like the other states," the Home Minister said.

The Minister said Article 370, which was scrapped on August 5, was not only a hurdle in country's unity and integrity but also the biggest obstacle in the development of Jammu and Kashmir, which has now been bifurcated into two Union Territories -- Jammu and Kashmir with an Assembly and Ladakh without one.

"I have firm believe that we will gain success in complete eradication of terrorism and terrorist ideology from Kashmir after abrogation of Article 370. Our Kashmir would be mentioned in the list of most developed Indian states within 10 years," Shah said.

The Minister said the Vande Bharat train, which has been manufactured at a Chennai-based factory, was a gift to the countrymen from Prime Minister Narendra Modi. .

Vande Bharat Express
The Vande Bharat Express will bring down the travel time between Delhi and Katra, the last station on the way to Vaishno Devi temple, to eight hours from 12 hours.IANS

"A new history is being created through Vande Bharat, which will be a great medium of tourism to Jammu and Kashmir," he added.

The Vande Bharat Express

The booking of tickets of the Vande Bharat Express is open on the IRCTC website. The train will bring down the travel time between Delhi and Katra, the last station on the way to Vaishno Devi temple, to eight hours from 12 hours.

The train will run between Delhi and Katra fecilitating travel upto the Hindu shrine of Vaishno Devi. The booking for the train will start October 5.

A gift for Vaishno Devi devotees: PM Modi

Narendra Modi Twitter

Prime Minister Narendra Modi described the launch of the Delhi-Katra Vande Bharat Express as a "Navratri gift" for devotees of Vaishno Devi.

"A Navratri gift for my sisters and brothers of Jammu as well as devotees of Maa Vaishno Devi! The New Vande Bharat Express from New Delhi to Maa Vaishno Devi, Katra will improve connectivity as well as spiritual tourism," the prime minister tweeted.