The conversion of the Kangra valley rail line into broad gauge has been hanging fire as the state government has shown no interest in the past three years and even failed to take up this issue with the Centre.
During the Assembly elections in 2012, the Chief Minister had made a promise with residents of the Kangra valley to take up the issue of converting the narrow gauge rail line into broad one linking Pathankot with Leh via Manali. But in the past three years, the state government has not written even a single letter to the Union Government in this regard.
At present, the Kangra valley rail line is in bad shape. Most of the track and other infrastructure have already outlived their lives and cry for the authorities concerned’ attention.In the last rainy season, the train service remained suspended for one month on this track because of poor maintenance and lack of funds with the railways to repair and replace the old bridges and retaining walls which cause hardships to residents.
The British had laid down this 120 km rail track in 1932, linking all important and religious towns of Kangra and parts of Mandi district.In the past 80 years, Indian Railways has not done anything in terms of its upgradation and improvement of this track.
Plans were drawn up to convert this narrow gauge line into a broad gauge line, but all remained confined to files. The condition of the rail track between Pathankot and Jogindernagar has gone from bad to worse in the past 10 years.In 2003 when the NDA was in power at the Centre, then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee planned to link Pathankot with Leh via Manali keeping in view the defence requirements of the country.
After the 1999 Kargil war, the Union Government had realised its importance and decided to develop an alternative route to Leh as this route is considered safest one and beyond the firing range of Pakistan. The Union Government had also prepared a DPR and it was planned to declare this rail line as a national project.
Later in 2008, when the BJP government, headed by Prem Kumar Dhumal, was voted to power, it again raised this issue with the Centre and asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to declare it a national project.