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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

PM Modi to Inaugurate First Electric Train in Kashmir and 48-km Rail Link

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to flag off the first electric train in Kashmir on Tuesday and inaugurate the recently completed 48-km rail link from Banihal to Sangaldan in the Valley. This marks the PM’s first public engagement in the region after the nullification of Article 370 in 2019.

The railways will make history with the introduction of trains running on clean fuel in the Valley, accompanied by the largest-ever program for the inauguration and foundation stone laying of nearly 2,000 projects. These projects include the overhaul of over 500 stations and the construction of rail over bridges and under bridges. These initiatives are significant ahead of the upcoming announcement of the poll code.

Despite railway officials’ initial hopes of starting train operations between Srinagar and Jammu before the Lok Sabha election, a long-standing promise to connect the Valley by train, the timeline may extend by another six months. This delay is attributed to the completion delay of two tunnels between Sangaldan and Katra. While the 18-km stretch between Dugga and Reasi is complete, operations cannot commence until both sides of the two stretches are finished.

Officials express confidence in achieving non-stop train operations between Jammu and Kashmir by July-August this year, emphasizing the challenges of constructing tunnels in difficult terrains.

Currently, diesel-run trains operate on the Baramulla-Banihal section (138 km), and with the new line becoming operational, commuters can now travel by train from Baramulla to Sangaldan. The electrification of this entire section has been completed with a Rs 470 crore investment. The electrification will enable the operation of the Vande Bharat train on this stretch.

This development is part of the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Link (USBRL) project, spanning challenging terrain in the Pir Panjal Ranges. The USBRL aims to establish an all-weather, comfortable, and economically feasible transportation network connecting the region with the rest of the country. Out of the total 272-km USBRL project, 161 km has been commissioned so far.

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