Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today inaugurated an all-weather rail line that links the Kashmir Valley with Jammu, which the prime minister said, is a big step in the development of Jammu and Kashmir.
|Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi flag off the train from Banihal|
The prime minister dedicated the newly constructed railway line between Banihal in Jammu and Qazigund in Kashmir Valley to the nation by flagging off the first diesel-engine train from Banihal through the Pir Panjal tunnel - the longest transportation tunnel in India, from Banihal Railway station in Jammu and Kashmir today.
The 17.7-km rail link paves the way for the future rail connectivity of Kashmir Valley with the national railway network.
The rail connectivity that will cut the present surface distance between the two towns of Bannihal and Qazigund in the two regions by 18 km passes through 10.96-km railway tunnel built at a cost of Rs1,300 crore. An eight-coach train will operate on the route from 27 June.
Congratulating the personnel of the Indian Railways and the people of Jammu and Kashmir, the PM said, ''This will link the Kashmir Valley to the progress in rest of India. We will link this to the rest of the rail network.''
Singh called for timely completion of remaining railway projects to ensure all-weather link to the state, which gets cut off from the rest of the country in harsh winters.
''I urge the Railways to complete work on the Chenab bridge as quickly as possible so that we have an all-weather link to Kashmir,'' he said.
|Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah, and Sonia Gandhi in the train|
Ircon International Ltd, the public sector railway engineering of the ministry of railways, has been the principal executing agency for Northern Railway to execute the work of Dharam-Qazigund section of USBRL Project, which includes Banihal-Qazigund section and Pir Panjal tunnel.
The Kashmir Valley railway (Qazigund-Baramulla section) is a 119-km-long modern railway line that became completely operational in October 2009.
So far it is an island railway, not yet connected to the Indian Railway network. It connects Baramula in the western part of Kashmir to Qazigund at the other end of the Valley via Srinagar.
The extension of this railway line beyond the Pir Panjal mountains to the Jammu region has been achieved with trains running on the new railway section of Qazigund-Banihal.