New Delhi: Home Minister Amit Shah has inaugurated the much-anticipated high-speed Vande Bharat Express on Thursday to commence its commercial run between New Delhi and Katra station in Jammu and Kashmir from October 5.

“The Railways is working towards achieving its targets keeping in mind principles of speed, scale and service,” Shah said at the flag-off ceremony.

The high-speed train, popularly known as Train 18, is set to bring down the travel time between Delhi and Katra, the last station on way to the Vaishno Devi temple, to eight hours from the current 12 hours.

The Delhi-Katra Vande Bharat Express (22439) will depart from New Delhi railway station at 6 AM and reach Shri Mata Vaishno Devi, Katra, at 2 PM. Along the way, the train will also halt at Ambala Cantt, Ludhiana, and Jammu Tawi for two minutes each.

Meanwhile, the return journey for train 22440 Katra-Delhi Vande Bharat Express will start at 3 PM from Katra to reach New Delhi station at 11 PM. Train 18 will ply six days of the week, barring Tuesday.

Bookings for the train service to Vaishno Devi shrine have already opened on September 29 on the official website of IRCTC at www.irctc.co.in. The minimum fare for travelling between New Delhi to Sri Mata Vaishno Devi Katra station in the chair car is Rs 1,630, while the fare for the executive chair car is priced at Rs 3,015.

According to Railway officials, the decision for the trip to Vaishno Devi was based on the success of the first Vande Bharat Express plying between New Delhi and Varanasi. The Delhi-Varanasi Train 18 was flagged off by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in February.

“After the first Vande Bharat Express to Varanasi, the cultural capital of the country, the railway is going to run the second Vande Bharat Express from Delhi to Katra on the auspicious occasion of Sharadoya Navaratri. Home Minister Amit Shah will flag it off on October 3,” Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal had tweeted.

The new train is more luxurious, with an all air-conditioned chair car arrangement. It has 16 coaches of an engine-less self-propelled trainset and has a bigger pantry compared to the first Vande Bharat Express.

The Indian Railways is also expected to manufacture 40 more versions of ‘Train 18’ by 2022, senior railway officials stated.