General Manager of Northern Railways in his maiden visit to Jammu Railway Station, has announced adding nine more platforms to the existing station so that it can cope with the huge rush mainly owing to the manifold increase in the number of pilgrims to various shrines in Jammu especially the holy shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi. May be the GM may have some more ideas of improving Jammu Railway Station and it is a happy news that nine more platforms will be added. We are happy and thankful for this act of generosity.
However, we are somewhat mystified the GM has not said anything about the dismal and obnoxious condition of the public bus stand and the connecting link to the Railway Station that fall within the jurisdiction of the Railways. He should have diverted his full attention to two most essential and urgent requirements connected the Railway Station. A Railway Station which has the potential of becoming India’s most attractive railway station has turned into a shameful slum which nobody wants to look at. The condition of the mini bus stand ferrying railway passengers to the city is horrible like a fish market. Taxis for the city or Katra and three wheelers plying within city boundaries literally fleece the commuters as there is no control on the fares they charge nor do they make meters functional. This brings a bad name to the railways. The entry passage to the railway station has been encroached upon largely leaving just space for one car to pass. Street vendors selling small items or fruit have occupied large chunk of link road and it is difficult even for a pedestrian to pass. Are not these the issues to which the GM should have mounted his attention? The reality is that the Northern Railways should realize the strategic, economic and cultural importance and significance of Jammu Railway Station and make some introspection about what should be the shape of this railway station. It is a massive project and it should be the unique and most modern station in India comparable with any world class station. We need grand and modern bus stand, ultra modern hotel and restaurants, pilgrim rest house of highest quality, entire railway station digitalised, all stairs removed and replaced with escalators and lifts, double or even three storeyed station where at least a thousand passengers can rest at night, dispensary and fully automatic rail information management. We hope the Railways Department will think and work along these lines. Imagine nearly 1.5 crore pilgrims from different parts of the country visit Mata Vaishno Devi annually. The revenue from this one source would be sufficient to undertake the massive plan to which we have referred above.