Jammu, Katra Get 3 New Trains, One More DEMU For Baramulla

8 July 2014
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: Apart from six trains which the Railways Ministry proposed to run up to Katra holy town, the base camp of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi ji shrine, Railways Minister Sadanand Gowda today announced three more trains for Jammu and Katra in the railway budget presented in the Parliament today. He approved one additional DEMU train between Baramulla-Banihal taking total number of daily trains on only line in the Kashmir Valley to 3 (3 up and 3 down). In other significant announcements for Jammu, Gowda announced special pilgrim circuits including Devi Circuit to link pilgrim centres with all major States and proposed launch of pilot project between New Delhi-Jammu Tawi section for setting up Food Courts at major stations to provide the option of ordering regional cuisine while onboard the trains through emails, SMS and Smart Phones etc. 'As this House is already aware that the Udhampur-Katra rail link has recently been dedicated to the nation by Prime Minister Narendra Modi fulfilling long cherished dream of millions of pilgrims across the country. We have also tied up with Government of Jammu and Kashmir for bridging Udhampur-Banihal portion by bus so that passengers can reach Srinagar with one single ticket from origin to destination. 'Now, Railways will focus on the completion of missing link of Banihal to Katra,' the Railways Minister said in his budget speech. Once Banihal-Katra rail link is completed, the Kashmir Valley will be directly linked to the train with rest of the country. Presently, the Kashmir bound passengers had to drop at Udhampur, board bus up to Banihal and again take the train up to Srinagar or Baramulla. The Railways after inauguration of train up to Katra had tied up with State Road Transport Corporation (SRTC) for ferrying passengers on one ticket from New Delhi to Baramulla hiring SRTC services between Udhampur and Banihal. In the budget, Gowda announced three more trains for Jammu and Katra including Indore-Jammu Tawi Express (weekly), Kamakhya (Assam)-Katra Express (weekly) via Darbhanga and Kanpur-Jammu Tawi Express (bi-weekly). Indore-Jammu Tawi will give further connectivity to Madhya Pradesh with Jammu while Kamakhya-Katra Express would be first train, which would link Assam's capital city Guwahati with pilgrim town of Katra. Kamakhya Railway Junction is located at Maligaon in Guwahati. The Railways Minister also announced one additional DEMU train between Baramulla-Banihal. Presently, two trains operate from Baramulla to Banihal and vice versa. The additional train would take number of DEMU trains on only rail line in the Kashmir Valley to three i.e. three trains would leave Baramulla for Banihal and an equal number from Banihal to Baramulla. Apart from three new trains announced by the Railways Minister from Indore, Kamakhya and Kanpur to Jammu and Katra, Gowda had already announced at Katra on July 4 during inauguration of train to the holy town the launch of six new trains to the base camp of Mata Vaishno Devi ji shrine. The new trains announced by Gowda included Kalika (Chandigarh)-Katra, Delhi Sarai Rohilla-Katra and Ahmedabad Katra. Three other trains would link Bangalore, Mumbai and Varanasi in due course of time. The Railways Minister also announced Special Pilgrim Circuits like Devi Circuit, Jyotirling Circuit, Jain Circuit, Christian Circuit, Muslim-Sufi Circuit, Sikh Circuit, Buddhist Circuit and Famous Temple Circuit. The Minister said he proposed to introduce specially packaged trains for these circuits and added that private participating in this area will also be encourages. Some trains for pilgrims and tourists are intended to be introduced in short run also, he said. The Devi Circuit would link major shrines of Goddess at different places with trains. Gowda said the Indian Railways proposed to set up Food Courts at major railway stations to provide the option of ordering regional cuisine while onboard the trains through emails, SMS and Smart Phones etc. 'A pilot project for the purpose would be started shortly between New Delhi-Amritsar and New Delhi-Jammu Tawi sections,' he added.