Kashmir is all set to begin the trial runs of its first electric train from the 2nd of October. This train will chug on the 137 km rail corridor of Banihal-Baramulla. As per the Chief Area Manager Kashmir Northern Railways, Saqib Yousuf, the electrification work on the Baramulla-Budgam sector was completed in May-June 2022, whereas the work on the Budgam-Banihal sector would be completed soon. The electrification work on the rail link is expected to reduce not just pollution, but also the operational cost by 60 percent.
Originally, the electrification work was supposed to start in June 2019 and end by June 2021, however, it was delayed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Once the work is done the mandatory principal chief electrical engineer (PCEE) inspection would happen on September 26, and the project would be inaugurated on Gandhi Jayanti.
The three main substations to supply power to the overhead equipment of the rail line are Budgam, Qazigund, and Baramulla. There would also be a provision of 10 power switching stations along the Banihal-Baramulla corridor. Overall, the cost of the project has come up to a total of INR 324 crore.
The intra-Kashmir train service was inaugurated by the then PM Dr. Manmohan Singh in October 2008, but having a rail link connecting Kashmir to the outside world has always been the dream. The plans of the Government of India to connect Kashmir to Kanyakumari by train have been delayed due to many reasons, including the obstacle of the hilly terrain through which the train would pass.