Udhampur-Banihal railway line to be connected this year or early next year: Railway minister Vaishnaw

The railway line connecting the Kashmir Valley with the rest of the country will be completed this year, and the special ‘Vande Bharat’ trains will chug in the Union Territory next year, Union Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said on Saturday.

Addressing a press conference at Nowgam railway station here, he said the Udhampur-Banihal track, connecting Jammu with Srinagar, will be completed by December this year, or early next year.

With this, the Udhampur-Baramulla railway line in J&K will be completed.

“There is a good progress on the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla rail line. The work on the Chenab and Anji bridges, and major tunnels is also going and there is a good progress. By the grace of God, the train will chug on this route in December this year or January-February next year,” Vaishnaw said.

He said a specially designed ‘Vande Bharat’ train is being developed for this line.

“Everything like temperature, snow, has been kept in mind while manufacturing this special train. Once the railway line is opened, you will have the ‘Vande Bharat’ train in the middle of 2024,” he said.

The Union minister said a demand has been received for connecting three areas — Sopore-Kupwara, Awantipora-Shopian, and Bijbehara-Pahalgam — with the railway line, and the Railways will discuss it.

“We will discuss this with J&K LG, and then with Union Home minister (Amit Shah) and Prime Minister (Narendra Modi),” he added.

Vaishnaw, who is also the minister of Communications and Electronics and Information Technology, said every village and city in J&K will have a telecom facility.

J&K, and Ladakh will have seamless connectivity. About 500 new mobile towers have been sanctioned for Ladakh and soon they will have good 4G/5G connectivity, added.