Kashmir On Track To Get Integrated With Nation's Railway

Punjab and Punjabi culture

Story from BBC NEWS:

Kashmir set for its first train service

The first ever train service is due to open on Saturday in the
disputed territory of Kashmir, claimed by both India and Pakistan. The
line is in the Indian-administered part of Kashmir and could have a
dramatic impact on people's lives. The BBC's Geeta Pandey has been to
see the work in progress.

Finishing touches are being given at this spanking new railway station
in Ompura town in Indian-administered Kashmir.

The granite on the walls is being brightened and the floor is being

As you enter the station, you see the gleaming new platform and the
railway tracks. Behind the station, parked in the shed, is the brand
new train.

A dozen gun-toting personnel of the paramilitary Railway Protection
Force keep a watch.

Ompura, in Budgam district, is a station on the soon-to-be-opened
railway line in Indian-administered Kashmir.

The rail link will connect Baramullah town in the north with Qazigund
in the south - a distance of 73 miles (117km).

Trial run

Railway officials say the line would be ready by the summer of 2009,
but a 44-mile (72km) stretch from Anantnag to Rajwansher via Srinagar
is ready and the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is due to
inaugurate it on 11 October.

"A trial run with the speed of 110km (68 miles) has been completed and
we are ready to go," said a senior official of the Indian Railways
Construction Company (Ircon) which is running the project.

The project was first announced in 2,000 and has been eight years in
the making.

Constructed at the cost of $466m (20bn rupees), it is the first
railway project to join the dots between the various parts of Kashmir

Ircon officials say the project "will transform the region", bringing
development to some of the remotest areas of Indian-administered

"At the moment, it takes three hours to travel by road from Qazigund
to Srinagar. The train will do the same distance in 45 minutes," a
senior official said.

"It will be useful for students who will be able to travel to Srinagar
easily. It will also be a boon to those who need to get to the
hospital in the capital city in a medical emergency," he said.

Residents of villages and towns along the track agree.

"Once it becomes operational, the train will definitely help us a
lot," said Mohammad Yaseen who lives in Baramullah.

Most ambitious

"It will hugely cut down on our travel time and the authorities have
said the fares will be kept low, so it will be good for us," he said.

The railway project is one of the most ambitious undertaken by Indian

More than 5,000 workers, headed by hundreds of civil engineers, toiled
for years to lay the tracks, build 900 bridges - including 100 major
ones - and construct dozens of platforms.

But the biggest challenge, officials say, was building the network
through some of the areas worst affected by the last two decades of
insurgency by militants trying to end Indian rule in Kashmir.

Tight security was provided at the work sites with the police and
paramilitary troops deployed in large numbers, but the security cordon
was still breached on more than one occasion.

"One of our engineers was kidnapped in 2005 along with his brother and
they were killed," a senior Ircon official said.

"Our workers were attacked many times by militants. And every time the
labourers were attacked, they would all run away, making it difficult
for the work to go on."

Kashmir's inhospitable terrain and harsh winters also posed problems
for the project.


"Kashmir's winters are too harsh for the outdoor work, which meant in
a year effectively the work could go on only for five months," the
official said.

However, some in Kashmir say the railway link is more symbolic and
will not have much impact on how people live and commute here.

"It is most probably a train for tourists. The coaches have big glass
windows from where tourists can have a good unrestricted view of
Kashmir's beautiful landscape," says Mubeen Shah, president of the
Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Says the state's former deputy chief minister Muzaffar Hussain Baig,
"The train will provide a degree of comfort. But it will not be as
dramatic as a railway link with the rest of the country."

That, say Ircon officials, is part two of the project which will
connect the track at Qazigund with Udhampur in the south. And the rest
of India.

But that stretch is many more years in the making.
Yea right my boy. Just dread the day racist brahiminis
kashmiri pundits  locomotive brakes fail
while going up Kashmir hills ! that will be the first and last one
It will not roll down back to Razakar Basti of Karachi, so dont be

Anyone knows what line connects to Qazigund from south, south-east.
There appears to be problem in connecting Qazigund with Udhampur.


That connection is necessary to connect Baramulla with Kanyakumari.
Look at that Gujratee racist Brahimini Banya Joshi,
trying to decipher Indian railway geography while  twirriling
middle finger up his in his flat in Gujratee gheeto in UK !!
You know I live in a Flat. You can check out who owns it. Also who my
neighbours are, etc. What important places are in the vicinity and if
the area has any signs that point to it being a Ghetto area.
Why should I ? Tell me one good reason !
Because you claimed I live in Gujarati ghetto.