No Pathankot-Jogindernagar Rail Line expansion: Piyush Goyal

PALAMPUR: The announcement by Railway Minister Piyush Goel recently that there was no plan for the expansion of the 120-km-long Pathankot-Jogindernagar rail line into broad gauge has disappointed the residents of lower hill of the state.

During its campaign for parliamentary elections in 2014, the BJP had promised the residents of the Kangra valley conversion of the narrow gauge rail line into broad gauge track and linking Pathankot with Leh via Manali. The Kangra valley rail line is considered lifeline of the people in the lower hills.

Though the minister remarked that he would make efforts to get this track declared a heritage asset of the Indian Railways after taking up the issue with UNESCO, it could take years.

The BJP had made the conversion of the rail track a major poll plank during the last elections. Shanta Kumar and Ram Swaroop, both MPs from lower hills of the state, had assured the people that if the party assumed power at the Centre, it would take steps to get the rail track converted into board gauge.

Earlier also Kangra valley residents had suffered a setback when the Indian Railways decided to connect with Leh with rail through Bilaspur instead of the Kangra valley.

At present the Kangra valley rail line is in a state of neglect. During the last rainy season train services on this track remained suspended for nearly a month because of poor maintenance and lack of funds for repairs and replacement the old bridges and retaining walls, causing hardships to the residents.

The British had laid this 120-km rail track in 1932, linking all important and religious towns of Kangra and parts of Mandi district. A number of plans were drawn up to convert this narrow gauge line into a broad gauge line. However, these could not see light of the day. The condition of the rail track between Pathankot and Jogindernagar has gone from bad to worse during the past 10 years.

In fact, with manifold increase in the population and the tourist traffic in the Kangra valley, the Railways has failed to come up to the expectations of the local people. Century-old engines and coaches are still plying on this track. Even the authorities could not introduce the regular first-class compartment here.

At present, seven trains ply on this route daily covering 33 stations and passing through important places like Nurpur, Jawali, Jwalamukhi Road, Kangra, Nagrota Bagwan, Chamunda, Palampur, Panchrukhi, Baijnath and Jogindernagar, which are major tourist attraction centres of the state.

Poll assurance

  • The BJP, during its parliamentary poll campaign in 2014, had promised the residents of the Kangra valley conversion of the narrow gauge rail line into a broad gauge track.
  • The Kangra valley rail line is considered lifeline of the people in the lower hills.
  • Shanta Kumar and Ram Swaroop, both MPs from lower hills of the state, had assured the people that if the party came to power at the Centre, it would take steps to get the rail track converted into board gauge.
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