Kashmir To Have Trains In 6 Months From Now
5 July 2007
The Times of India
New Delhi: In the near future, Kashmir will no longer remain cut off from the rest of the country even during the severest winters, thanks to a path-breaking railway line. In the Valley, the 120-km-long rail line between Qazigund and Baramulla is almost complete and trial runs will begin soon. By December-end, specially designed trains will be chugging in the valley on a broad gauge line. Srinagar, Badgam, Kakapore and Pampore stations are ready with beautiful wooden carvings done by local artisans. The architecture of the station buildings blends with that in other parts of the Valley. The Valley train has a specially designed 1,400-horse power engine and an auxiliary engine that will generate heat to keep the engine and its lubricants from freezing. It will also pump hot air into the coaches to keep passengers warm. The railways has also developed its own snow-cutting 'cattle guard' for the engine so that the train runs in sub-zero temperatures without any problem. The main engine has a sleek aerodynamic profile with fibre reinforced plastic. The driver's cabin will be provided with a single glass screen to give a wider view. Along with 'cab heating,' the driver's screen has an inbuilt de-snowing and de-fogging unit. The 'snow-cutting type cattle guard' has been developed by the Rail Coach Factory, Kapurthala, to clear snow from tracks during winter. 'This will enable the train to run even in the absence of snow-cutting machines,' a senior Northern Railway official said. Each coach has a capacity to seat 90 persons. Each coach has a 900-mm wide door to enable easier entry and exit. They will also have sliding doors like the ones in the Delhi Metro. The coaches have roof-mounted heating units, necessary during the severe winters. The heating units will keep the temperature at a constant level of 20 degrees Celsius. The windows will be wide, made of unbreakable splinter proof polycarbonate sheet, to provide a 'breathtaking panoramic view of the Kashmir valley,' the railway official added. The coaches have been provided with pneumatic suspension for better riding comfort and fitted with executive chair cars with fire resistant grade upholstery and a reclining mechanism. The coaches will have a public information system with display and automatic announcement features just like the Delhi Metro. Work on other sections in Kashmir is also going on fast. These include the 25-km-long treacherous stretch between Udhampur and Katra, and the 150-km stretch between Katra and Qazigund, which will have the world's highest bridge - 359 metres from the ground. The trains will also pass through an 11-km-long tunnel. The railway official said: 'There is a lot of talk about China building a rail line to Tibet. But no one is appreciating the Indian Railways building a rail line in the world's most difficult mountainous terrain. Compared to this, the line in Tibet, which is a plateau, is a cakewalk.'