First Kashmir train in February
5 July 2006
New Delhi: Come February 2007 and Srinagar will have it first railway station as Northern Railway’s engines will chug through the Kashmir Valley in Feb-March 2007, facilitating the first-ever sight of a train and its station in the region. According northern region sources, the tracks have come up to the station which has been designed keeping the local architecture in mind. The interiors have been decorated with wood, including carvings and decorative motifs. The station has mountains in the backdrop adding a fascinating touch. The trains will run only in the Valley as the Katra-Qazigund stretch, that involves laying rail lines through the Pir Panjal range. “The rail link, being constructed under the Jammu and Kashmir Rail Project, will benefit passengers between Kakapora and Rajwiansher. En route, it will pass through Pampore, Srinagar and Badgam, the last being planned as the major station yard and operations head office,” a senior NR official said. Sources said that those in the Valley, usually cut-off from the rest of the country due to harsh weather and arduous terrain for a long period of the year, will benefit from this segment of the J&K rail project. From the Jammu side, passengers, who have been availing a train service up to Udhampur so far, can extend their journey up to Katra next February. “On the Udhampur-Katra section, major trains at present terminating at Jammu will be extended up to Katra, facilitating passengers, particularly pilgrims to Vaishno Devi,” the official said. Officials explained that there are about 1,000 major and minor bridges and 126 kilometres of tunnels being constructed all through the 287-km rail network that will link the Valley with the country. “Once completed in 2008-09, NR will link Udhampur, Katra, Qazigund, Srinagar and Baramulla with the rest of the country. Ultimately, on the Srinagar route, the terminating point will be Baramulla, which is 22 km beyond Rajwiansher,” the official said. Engineers claim it has been a different terrain altogether for them. “It is almost like an island railway, permitting operations in phases. Often, there are over 100 kilometres of railway line being built where there is virtually no habitation, water, power and roads,” one official said.