SPG, Rlys officials inspect rail link ahead of PM’s visit

Excelsior Correspondent

A view of Banihal Railway station carved out in high mountains by Indian Railways. -Excelsior/ Sajad Sameer

SRINAGAR, June 19:Ahead of Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh’s inauguration of railway track between Qazigund to Banihal next week, a high level team of Railway officials and PM’s Special Protection Group (SPG) team today inspected the track and site.
A team of SPG headed by its Inspector General SPG and accompanied by Deputy Inspector General of Jammu and Kashmir Police, Security wing, Mushataq Sadiq today visited Qazigund to finalise the security arrangements for PM’s visit.
The PM is scheduled to arrive in Kashmir on June 25 for two day visit to inaugurate the Qazigund-Banihal rail link, throw open Mughal road and Uri power Project in Uri near the Line of Control (LoC) and address a public rally there.
Commissioner Railway Safety (CRS) BS Karham, and Chief Executive Officer  P D Garg along with other officials also inspected 18-kilometer railway track from Qazigund and Banihal and expressed content with facilities at station buildings, track alignment, signalling and electrical work.
Talking to reporters, CEO P D Garg said that the Railway track between Qazigund and Banihal is ready for the train services to operate.
“The rail link between Qazigund and Banihal will provide all-weather connectivity between Kashmir and rest of the world. The link between Banihal and Udhampur will take some time. But we will bridge the two stations with road,” Grag said
There will be a single ticket system for passengers going to Delhi by train. “The passengers will be taken by road to Udhampur railway station where they will leave for Delhi on the same ticket,” Garg said.
Talking about the 11-km Qazigund tunnel, he said it is equipped with modern gadgets like public address system, CCTVs, air quality monitoring, emergency telephone in case the emergency arises.
“A special road has also been constructed inside the tunnel for rescue measures,” he said.
The CEO said that the link between Banihal and Katra will take time and would be completed in December 2017.
The section of the rail link will reduce the distance between the Qazigund and Banihal from 35 Km to 18 Km and it has been constructed at a huge cost of Rs. 1,691 Crore.
It took almost nine years to complete the Baramulla-Qazigund rail project, which was started in 2000. The Islamabad-Qazigund rail link has about 113 minor and major bridges along the route.

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