J&K: Train connectivity reaching Kashmir under PM Modi government

Jammu and Kashmir [India], May 23 (ANI): Railway connectivity, was an area, in which Jammu-Kashmir was lagging behind for years, but under Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party government at the Centre, thumping progress has been made towards connecting the region with the rest of the country.

In July 2014, after inaugurating the 25-km Udhampur-Katra railway line in July 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi assured the people that Kashmir would be connected and integrated with the rest of the country during his tenure.
The present dispensation is all set to fulfil the promise made by PM Modi. By year-end Baramulla in North Kashmir would be connected to Kanyakumari through a railway network. During the first term, PM Modi ensured that the work on the rail link between Katra and Banihal is expedited. While during the second tenure, PM Modi set a deadline for the completion of the railway project that would provide all-weather connectivity to Kashmir.

The foundation stone of the railway project to connect Kashmir with Kanyakumari was laid in 1997. But the work on the project was carried out at a snail’s pace. However, under PM Modi, special emphasis was laid on its completion.

According to the officials, till 2014, the Northern Railways used to get only Rs 700-800 crore per year. But, in the 2023-24 Railway Budget, Rs 6,000 crore was allotted for the railway project in J-K.

The railway line connecting Kashmir with Kanyakumari is all set to be completed this year, and the specially designed ‘Vande Bharat’ trains would also chug in the region by next year.

The work on the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla railway line has entered its final stages. The work on the Chenab, and Anji bridges, and major tunnels is also nearing completion.

The Chenab railway bridge, which is one of the highest bridges in the world, is considered an ‘engineering marvel’ and is even higher than the Eiffel Tower.

During the manufacturing of these special trains for Kashmir, several aspects have been taken care of including temperature and snow. High-velocity winds, extreme temperature, earthquake-prone areas, hydrological impact — everything has been studied in detail.

When the BJP-led Centre abrogated J-K’s special status on August 5, 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised that J-K would get the country’s and the world’s best facilities and infrastructure.

In the coming days, Northern Railway announced that Uri, the last township in North Kashmir, will also be connected through a rail network.

According to the officials, tenders have been floated for the engineering survey of a 50 km-long rail link between Baramulla and Uri. Northern Railways is planning to start Final Location Survey for the Baramulla-Uri line, and proposals are being invited by the Ministry of Railways.

The frontier area of Uri getting rail connectivity will be a big achievement for Northern Railways as it would complete its network from South to North India.

Notably, the 118-km- Qazigund-Baramulla railway line was commissioned in October 2009, followed by the Banihal-Qazigund section of 18 km in June 2013, and the 25-km-long Udhampur-Katra section in July 2014.

The 111-km-long Katra-Banihal section which remained stuck in one or other wrangle till 2014, is also nearing completion.

Till 2019, train services within Kashmir were suspended frequently due to the shutdowns and protests orchestrated by the Pakistan-sponsored separatists.

But, during the past three years, these services haven’t been disrupted as the PM Modi-led regime has put in relentless efforts to end connectivity issues vis-a-vis Kashmir.

Kashmir is eagerly waiting for the ‘Vande Bharat’ trains that would keep the landlocked Valley connected with the rest of the country 24×7 for 365 days.

The train to Kashmir would benefit everyone, including the Army, Border Security Force personnel, traders, tourists and the common people. Most of the supplies, which presently come through trucks and transport planes, would arrive through goods trains.

It would end the dependence of people on the 270-km long Srinagar-Jammu National Highway which gets closed due to landslides whenever the weather turns inclement, especially in the winter months.

The train connectivity would end the monopoly of the airlines. Once the train starts chugging between Baramulla and Jammu, airfares would remain under check as the travellers would get another option.

What couldn’t happen in the last 70 years, is nearing its completion under the current government, and is expected to bring Jammu-Kashmir, further closer to the rest of the country.