Himachal Pradesh railway network may finally be upgraded

DHARAMSHALA: Railway minister Piyush Goyal and chief minister Jai Ram Thakur conducted an aerial survey of the Kangra rail line on Sunday. The track started functioning during the British era, in April 1929. It connected Pathankot in Punjab with Jogindernagar in Himachal. There has been no upgrade for the last 89 years.

The CM said while the government is making efforts to expand the road and air network, the rail network has been in a limbo since the British era. “We have requested the Union minister to promote rail network too. The British laid rail lines in Himachal and there has been no upgrade for the last 70 to 80 years,” he said.

Union minister Piyush Goyal said he issued directions to the railway board on phone and on Sunday, a meeting was held for upgrade of the rail network. “I have directed officials to design special coaches for this area. They will also work on other possibilities,” he said, adding that he had given officials a target of 100 days to make some progress on this front.

According to the minister, the railway department will soon upgrade 17 stations on the heritage theme to boost tourism. “We will make these stations Wi-Fi enabled and renovate them on the same lines,” said Goyal. The railway department will also conduct a drone survey of the rail line in the next few days.

U-turn on broad gauge rail track.

During the last parliamentary elections, BJP leaders promised to convert the Pathankot – Mandi narrow guage rail track into broad gauge. But on Sunday, railway minister Piyush Goyal refused to do so, saying it would destroy the ecology of the area. “Rather than making it broad gauge, the existing narrow line will be upgraded to attract tourists. This will generate employment for the area,” the minister said.

“I belong to Mumbai, so I realize there are ample opportunities for shooting films here. The department will being vista dome coaches on this track soon” he said. BJP MP Shanta Kumar promised to make this line broad guage to counter China.