Srinagar, Nov 1 (UNI) After decades of wait, a train has finally started chugging on rail tracks in Kashmir.
The Northern Railways today successfully conducted a trial run of an eight-coach Diesel-Electric Multiple Unit (DEMU) train between Ompora in Badgam district of central Kashmir and Kakapora in Pulwama district of south Kashmir.
The trial run was conducted to check safety aspects on the Kakapora-Pampore-Nowgam-Badgam track in Qazigund-Baramulla section.
The train covered a distance of 22 km from Badgam to Kakapora in about 18 minutes, attaining a maximum speed of 110 km per hour. The train took almost same time in covering the return distance from Kakapora to Badgam.
The train has fully air-conditioned coaches with heating system and push back seats. This is for the first time in the history of Indian Railways that a train with all these facilities would be used to cover short distances within a particular area/region.
An inspection for opening of railways for the public carriage of passengers was also carried out on the occasion.
With this successful trial run, a new chapter has been added in the history of Indian Railways.
And for the people of Kashmir, it was a dream come true. Hundreds of people were lined up on both sides of the track to watch the Indian Railways create history.
The massive Jammu-Udhampur-Qazigund-Srinagar-Baramulla national rail project of Rs 4700 crore is aimed at connecting the Kashmir valley with the railway network of mainland India. The project is managed by a professional organisation IRCON.
In 1982, the Centre had given a green signal to construct a 287-km-long rail line between Jammu Tawi in Jammu to Baramulla in the Kashmir valley. To ensure that work on the ambitious project was carried out speedily without any resource crunch, the Centre had declared it a National Rail Project.
However, laying railway lines in Jammu and Kashmir, situated in the midst of the Himalayan mountain chain, was not easy and the Railways started constructing the tracks as a separate project.
Initially, rail lines were constructed from Jammu Tawi to Udhampur, which has now become operational. By February next year, Katra, the base camp for Vaishno Devi pilgrims, will also be linked through the rail route.
However, the 148-km area from Katra to Qazigund lies in the Pir Panjal mountain ranges through which flows the turbulent Chenab and Ajni Khad rivers. As part of the project, the world's highest rail bridges have to be built on these rivers. It also includes construction of the country's longest tunnel -- 11.429-km-long -- in Pir Panjal. This is likely to be completed in 2008.
The construction was at present being carried out on the 119-km-long rail line between Qazigund and Baramulla in the Kashmir valley, which is relatively easier.
The train services on the Kakapora-Badgam track were scheduled to start from March this year, but got delayed due to several reasons.