Union Minister for Railways Ashwini Vaishnaw on Saturday said that Kashmir valley’s rail link with the rest of the country will be completed by January next year and the rail network in the valley will be expanded up to the Line of Control (LOC).
The work on the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla rail link was progressing at a fast pace and trains from other parts of the country will start chugging into the valley by January or February next year, he said.
Specially designed Vande Bharat trains will start operating from Kashmir to other parts of the country, Vaishnaw told reporters after inspecting the Budgam-Baramulla stretch of the rail link in the valley. He took stock of the available facilities and scope for further improvement of rail services at Baramulla that is India’s first railway station from the LOC side.
The minister said that the rail connectivity will be expanded to Kupwara district that is also along the LOC with Pakistan occupied Jammu and Kashmir (POJK). The issue of expanding the rail line to LOC will be discussed with Lt. Governor Manoj Sinha, he said.
He said that the highest rail budget of Rs,5983 has been allocated this year for Jammu and Kashmir. “A thorough discussion over the doubling of rail lines in Baramulla is currently taking place. In this line, there are still three connections to make. On this route, numerous projects have been finished. Work on electrification is almost complete.” Vaishnaw said.
The Indian Railways has plans to enhance parcel services, double lines, telephone connectivity, cement and pharmaceutical trade. By year’s end, these services would be put in place. Apple trading facilities will also be taken into consideration, the Minister said.
Meanwhile, Indian Railways has achieved a significant milestone with electrification of the entire Broad Gauge in the UT of Jammu& Kashmir where a total 298 Route Kilometre has achieved 100 per cent electrification reducing dependence on imported crude oil and carbon footprints.
Switching to electric traction has provided the benefits of environmental-friendly mode of transport, reduced dependence on imported diesel fuel, thereby saving precious foreign currency and reduced carbon footprints, reduced operating cost and haulage of heavier freight trains and longer passenger trains with high haulage capacity of electric locomotives leading to increased throughput.