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Kashmir valley linked by rail

July 2, 2013 DESTINATION, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59New railway line between Banihal in Jammu and Qazigund in Kashmir had its first scheduled train run yesterday to link the beautiful Himalayan valley of Kashmir in Northern India with rest of India, via Jammu.

The 18 kilometer long rail line inaugurated by Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh on 26 June, has halved the distance traversed by road. The rail line passes through Pir Panjal Mountains along the 11km long tunnel, India’s longest and Asia’s second longest tunnel. Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh during inauguration of the new railway line in Kashmir

New Banihal-Qazigund rail line has further linked the already operational 118 km long route between Qazigund and Baramulla (operational since October 2008) within Kashmir. The all whether rail line is expected to boost tourism to Kashmir.

Ghulam Ahmad Mir, Minister for Tourism, Government of Jammu and Kashmir, said: “Jammu & Kashmir was a pioneer for tourism in India. Tourists’ return to the state is re-endorsing the destination’s attraction. It is not just a final destination, but beautiful nature all along the way makes it a complete attraction.”

Deep gorges alternating between steep rocky mountains of the State of Jammu & Kashmir have always been a challenge for transportation. The tunnel is constructed using New Austrian Tunneling Method to optimise the tunnel design.

The herculean task required cutting and filling 1,178,500 cubic meters of earthwork and construction of 39 bridges have also been constructed along the new line which include two major bridges, 30 minor bridges and 7  Road Over Bridges/Road Under Bridges.  It has been provided the State of the Art safety and security systems.

Mir said: “Unruly incidents can occur anywhere in the world. Kashmir is as safe as Mumbai or Delhi. Being at the ‘head (geographical position in India)’, it (the State) has a little headache. Moral support (through tourist incoming) will heal it. We welcome tourists and will take best possible care.”

Eight coach trains between Banihal and Baramulla make five daily tips starting at 7.10 am from Banihal and 7.35 am from Baramulla. Passengers travelling by train from Kashmir valley to Banihal can avail bus service further till Udhampur, to connect to train service for rest of India till the Udhampur-Banihal section of the rail is complete in 2017.

More infrastructure is underway in the Himalayan state. Mir said that Jammu to Srinagar 6-lane highway corridor was getting ready.

The J&K segment of the national highway under the North-South Corridor Project (NSCP) by National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) will halve the on road travel time between the Pathankot border and Srinagar. The 286-km stretch is scheduled to complete in 2015.
The NSCP project is to build a 4,076-km highway, mostly of six lanes, to connect roads from Kashmir (Northern tip of India) to the southern tip, Kanyakumari, in just five days travel. The highway passing through 8 states of India is expected to be ready by 2016.

The State on Friday, flagged off the fourth edition of the Mughal Road Car Rally that passes over the Pir Panjal mountain range, situated at an altitude of 3500 meters.

Mir said: “Mughal Road is a new sector for adventure tourism. We’ve identified and authorized development of 20 more projects. Currently the state can handle (accommodation) up to 100,000 tourists across sections and we’re encouraging newer hotels to establish.”

The Banihal-Qazigund rail line is constructed at a cost of $282 mn (Rs 1691 crore).

Written by : Anand & Madhura Katti

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