Kashmir rail link by 2020

Srinagar: The rail-link from Banihal to Katra, connecting Kashmir Valley with the rest of the country, would be completed by 2020, railway officials said here on Saturday.

“The work on the Banihal to Katra stretch is going on and we are hopeful of completing it by 2020,” General Manager, Northern Railways, A K Puthia told reporters.

Puthia said the 110 km stretch was the most difficult part of the rail-link which connects Baramulla in north Kashmir with Udhampur in Jammu.

“About 85 per cent of the track is made of tunnels. There are 25 tunnels in this stretch, of which around 35 per cent has been completed,” he said.

The general manager said the track would also have the world’s longest and highest railway bridge. “It will be 359 metres high and will have a span of 467 metres. The bridge is expected to be completed by 2017,” he said.

Puthia said the maintenance and services of the railways were affected in the Valley post last year’s floods.

“The movement of our stocks and coaches was affected after the floods. We recently got permission for carrying those items. When the supply improves, the services will improve,” he said.

The official said subject to the approval of the Railway Board, more coaches would be added to the trains to address the increasing rush of passengers.

“We can add more trains or even coaches after we get the approval of the board. At present the platform length at the railway stations here is of eight coaches and adding extra coaches will cause inconvenience to the passengers,” he said, adding that more than 22,000 passengers use the services of the railways daily here.

Puthia was here to inspect the railway stations at Srinagar and Budgam and to take first-hand-account of the issues the passengers as well as employees face.

He said Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu will visit the state on July 9.

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