Katra Rail Link Misses Another Deadline

Katra Rail Link Misses Another Deadline

27 January 2014
Kashmir Times


New Delhi: The much-delayed train service to Katra, the base camp to the famous Vaishno Devi shrine in Jammu and Kashmir, has missed another deadline and will not be ready for commissioning by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh when he visits Jammu next week. The flagging of a train to Katra from Udhampur to cover the 25-km long stretch was kept in the tentative schedule of the Prime Minister after initial assurances from the Railways that the line will be ready for commissioning, official sources said today. Singh will be in Jammu on February three to attend the National Science Congress. Several trials were conducted in the recent weeks and even an Advance Security Liaison, a pre-requisite before visit of any VVIP, was also done in connection with opening the new rail line, the sources said. However, Railways backed out at the last moment when the itinerary of the Prime Minister was being finalised, citing that the Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS) was not satisfied with one of the several bridges in the rail route. The train connectivity to Katra is part of the ambitious Kashmir rail link project marking the region's rail connectivity with rest of the country. It has been executed at an estimated cost of Rs 1,050 crore. Udhampur-Katra route was slated to be commissioned during October last year but it got delayed after a portion of a tunnel caved in. The agitation in the Valley last year also delayed completion of the section as the workers involved in the project left the site. The new link with seven tunnels, 29 minor and nine major bridges is expected to ease the pilgrim rush in Jammu city and help the devotees to directly go to Katra.