A day after inaugurating the 450 MW Baglihar Hydro Electric Power Project in J&K, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh flagged off the first train in Kashmir at Srinagar Railway Station here this morning, turning the historical event into a leap forward in connecting the Valley with the rest of the country.
The first ever chugging of a train in the Srinagar valley was witnessed, by the UPA Chairperson Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, the Governor Mr. N. N. Vohra, Union Minister for Ralways Mr. Lalu Prasad Yadav, Union Minister for Water Resources Prof. Saifuddin Soz, former Chief Minister Mr. Ghulam Nabi Azad, MP, Ms. Mehbooba Mufti, and other political leaders and senior officers of the State Government and Indian Railways.
The onlookers clapped as Dr. Singh flagged off the beautifully decorated train. The media was present in strength to capture the moment. National television channels covered the event live. A group of about 100 small children carrying colourful buntings were the proud passengers of the maiden run of the train from Nowgam to Kakapora.
The regular train service will commence from tomorrow. To begin with, the train will run from Rajwansher (Budgam) to Anantnag covering a distance of 66 kilometers. The fare for travel between Rajwansher to Anantnag is Rs. 15. Between Rajwansher and Anantnag, there are 7 railway stations including at Budgam, Srinagar, pampore, Kakapora, Awantipora, Panzgam and Bijbehara.
The train will leave Rajwansher at 7.10 a.m. daily and arrive at Anantnag at 8.45 a.m. On return journey, the train will leave Anantnag at 9.05 a.m. and arrive at Rajwansher at 10.40 a.m. In the afternoon, the train will depart from Rajwansher at 2.25 p.m. and reach Anantnag at 4 p.m. On return, it will leave Annatnag at 4.15 p.m. and reach Rajwansher at 5.50 p.m. The train in Kashmir will strengthen the available transport facility and provide all weather transport in an area, which is snowbound for a significant period of the year. The entire stretch of 119 km railway line from Qazigund to Baramulla is expected to be completed by the end of the current year. The maximum permissible speed limit for the train in Kashmir will be 100 kms per hour.
The coaches of the train have a seating capacity of 90 each. The compartment for the physically challenged persons has wider doors. As the train runs through the Valley’s breathtaking landscape, for panoramic view, wide windows of unbreakable and splinter proof polycarbonate sheets have been provided while the doorways are sliding. Anti skid flooring has been provided in the coaches and distinctive and attractive color schemes adopted. Like the state-of-the art Delhi Metro, public information system with display and automatic announcement are included in the coaches which have also pneumatic suspension in the bogies for better riding comfort. The coaches have executive chair car type seating arrangement with fire resistant grade upholstery and reclining mechanism.
In view of the peculiar climate of the valley, the 1400 horsepower diesel engine for the train has been provided with heating system for quick and trouble free starting in winters. The driver’s cab has heating and defogging unit to take care of cold climatic conditions and is fitted with single lookout glass to give wider view to the driver. Snow cutting type cattle guard is attached at the driving end of the train for snow clearance from tracks during winter.
The 53 kms first sector of the rail project between Jammu to Udhampur was completed in 2005 at a cost of Rs. 522 crores. The second section of the project between Udhampur to Baramulla comprises of 25 kms Udhampur-Katra rail link, 148 kms Katra-Qazigund link and 119 kms Qazigund-Baramulla sector.
The Udhampur-Katra section involves about 10.98 kms of tunnelling, nine major and nine minor bridges and 10 ROB. The approximate cost of this section is about Rs. 680 crores. The tallest bridge in this section will be 90 meters high and the longest tunnel 3.15 kms long. The Katra-Qazigund 148 kms long leg is the toughest section ever been constructed. It is full of tunnels and bridges. On this section, a bridge is being constructed across river Chenab, which will have an Arch span of 465 meters ad a total length of 1.3 kms. The bridge will be about 359 meter above the bed level of the river and the highest in the world. The Qazigund end of this stretch will have 10.96 kms longest tunnel piercing the Pir Panchal range below the snow line.
The total cost on the project has been estimated at Rs. 11270 crores, of which Qazigund-Baramulla section involves Rs. 2275 crores. The expenditure registered on the project is of the order of Rs. 4980 cores, of which Rs. 2501 crore have been spent on Qazigund-Baramulla section.