Rail Cars Will Reach Kashmir by Year End: Railway Minister

Date:

Special Vande-Bharat Train Will be Built for J&K

ABRAR MATTOO

SRINAGAR, Mar 25: The Kashmir Valley will finally be connected to the rest of the country through train services by next year, railway minister Ashwini Vaishnaw promised here in Srinagar on Saturday.

Addressing a press conference at the Nowgam railway station in Srinagar, Vaishnaw stated that the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Railway Link (USBRL) is in good progress and the project worth over Rs 35000 crore will be completed by the end of December 2023 or in January or February of 2024.

Mr. Vasihnaw, the Minister of Railways, Communications and Electronics & Information Technology in the Government of India, is on a visit to Jammu and Kashmir to take stock of the progress of railway construction. The four sections of this rail project, which was first commissioned in the year 1994, will be built at a cost of Rs 27,949 crore from Udhampur-Katra, Katra-Banihal, Banihal-Qazigund, and Qazigund-Baramulla.

Commending the prime-minister Narendra Modi for his commitment towards the upliftment of Jammu and Kashmir, Mr. Vaishnaw said that “the annual budget for railways has been increased from Rs. 800 crores in 2012 to Rs. 6,000 crores in 2022.”

He further said that a “special customized Vande-Bharat train will be built that will be feasible to the weather of Jammu and Kashmir and the hilly topography.”

Vaishnaw also visited the first railway station of India in Kashmir and purchased local products from a shop at “first station of India’ at Baramula.” It was to promote the local products under “One Station, One Product’ (OSOP).”

The OSOP was mentioned in the union budget 2022-2023 and is aimed to promote and sell local products across railway stations in India.” Under ‘OSOP’ the Indian Railways will provide infrastructure and other assistance for the sale of products at the suburban railway stations or outstation train terminus to encourage local artisans to promote indigenous products and crafts.

Mr. Vaishnaw also said that “Kupwara, Shopian and Pahalgam in the Kashmir Valley will also be connected with the Indian railways soon.” He said that railways across Jammu and Kashmir will be improved and the improvement will be witnessed by the year end.

“Telephone connectivity, double lines, parcel services, cement and pharmaceutical trade via Indian railways would be ensured by year-end, besides, facilities for apple trade would also be considered,” Mr. Vaishnaw added.

Rail connectivity with the rest of the country will not only boost the economy, it will also boost tourism in Kashmir valley. All sections in Kashmir are excitedly waiting for the rail line to complete.

The Union Minister also said that the telecom facility, 4G-5G facilities will be ensured across J&K, adding that every single village will have telecom towers and optical fiber facility will reach every nook and corner.

About the Chenab railway bridge, the Union Minister said that the all the test have been successfully conducted and some more tests will be conducted tomorrow.

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