Large crowds at Banihal: A nightmare for railway officials

jpgSRINAGAR: The engineering feat to extend train service to Banihal has triggered a situation that railway officials see nothing short of a nightmare. As crowds go visiting the 11-km tunnel, the officials are finding it hard to manage the crowd that is double than the available capacity.

Last week, the confrontation between the railway officials and the commuters reached a level that the last train from Banihal was cancelled. Officials said it was filled beyond the capacity and the commuters refused to get down and lessen the load.

It’s not picnickers alone. Thousands of people including students, labour force and office goers, who otherwise had to stay in Srinagar, are shuttling between home and the work place. “It’s damn cheap – Rs 15 between Srinagar and Banihal,” said Reyaz Khan, whose family works in Kashmir for most of the year. “If you stay in Srinagar, it costs Rs 5,000 per head per month and now you have a facility that you can be home daily.” As people save on time and costs, the rail is massively popular.

Rahul Rai, the stations manager at Banihal said there was no day when less than 3,500 passengers boarded the train to Kashmir.

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