Pakistan Plans Rail Link On Its Side Of Kashmir
5 January 2007
The Hindustan Times
New Delhi: The Indian Railways' effort to run trains to the Kashmir valley this year has had an impact across the Line of Control, with Pakistan Railway starting feasibility studies to lay tracks from Rawalpindi to Muzaffarabad, the Capital of Occupied Kashmir (PoK). Pakistan Railway is also looking into building a 40-km link between Dina and Mirpur at the southern tip of PoK. This shorter link (see map) is likely to be executed first as the Rawalpindi-Muzaffarbad line will be more difficult to build, considering the mountaneous terrain. Mirpur is presently connected to Pakistan through the Peshawar-Lahore Grand Trunk Road. Pakistan Railway officials said that since Mirpur is fast emerging as the industrial hub of PoK, having rail connectivity with the place was economically crucial. 'We are studying three or four different routes between Dina and Mirpur. Our survey began only recently and we will be completing it by April,' Mohammed Ashfaq Khattak of the consultancy firm told The Indian Express over phone. 'Apart from deciding on possible routes, the feasibility study is also trying to find out if the project will be economically viable,' said Malik Hayat, Rawalpindi's divisional superintendent of railways. The railways there spent Pakistani Rs 10 lakh last year on the Dina-Mirpur feasibility study, official data show. And sources said international help and expertise may be sought at a later stage. On the Indian side, preparations to run trains in Kashmir are at an advanced stage, with operations between Udhampur and Katra slated to begin soon. And the more significant target of bringing a train into the Valley is likely to be met sometime by March.