The much-awaited railway section linking Kashmir valley with rest of the country will be launched on June 25 when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi jointly flag off the first train.
The 18-km-long section between Banihal in Jammu and Qazigund in Kashmir will provide an all-weather surface link to the valley which often gets snapped due to snowfall during winters. The section, which includes an 11-km-long tunnel, will reduce the distance from 35 km to 18 kms. It has been constructed at a cost of Rs 1,691 crore. Train service is already operational within Kashmir valley between Qazigund and Baramulla in north Kashmir. “The mandatory inspection of the track by Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS) is slated on June 18 and after that the line is expected to open on June 25,” Northern Railway General Manager V K Gupta said here today.
Trial run on this section was successfully done on December 28 last year and since then trains carrying stones are running on regular basis. This section will have two main railway stations – Banihal in Jammu division and Qazigund in Kashmir division. In addition to these stations, a halt station is also being provided at Hillar village in Anantnag district for the convenience of local public. “It was a challenging task. Besides the difficult terrain, land was acquired for the Kashmir rail link project in adverse law and order situation in the state,” GM said.