Kashmir train suspended for over 300 days since 2016

Kashmir train suspended for over 300 days since 2016

Unrest in Kashmir (AFP Photo)

The intra-Kashmir train service between Banihal in Jammu and Baramulla in north Kashmir, which remains suspended since August 5, has remained shut for over 300 days since 2016.

Official data reveals that due to summer unrest in 2016, the train services remained suspended for 135 days while in 2017, the service couldn’t operate for 25 days and 92 days in 2018 due to disturbance in the Valley.

Railway authorities suspend the train service on the 137-kilometer Banihal-Baramulla line as a “precautionary measure” citing “law and order” as the reason. 

A railway official said on an average, the Northern Railways earns Rs two lakh daily from this service, implying that in the last three years, there has been loss of over Rs six crores. “Maintaining assets of the railways involves a huge cost and in the absence of any earning the situation has become difficult,” he said.

On a normal day, at least 15 pairs of the train run regularly from Baramulla to Banihal and carry almost 30,000 passengers, including students and employees. The suspension of the train service has put the commuters to immense hardships.

Thousands of employees and students from north and south Kashmir, who had to travel to Srinagar daily are the worst suffers. “The train travel was fast and cheap. The travel which would cost me Rs 10 costs me Rs 100 now and the distance which the train would cover in half an hour takes two hours,” said Bashir Ahmad, a government employee from southern Anantnag district.

Ahmad, who is posted in Srinagar, now contemplates to take a room on rent in the city as travel has become a cumbersome and expensive process for him in the absence of the train service. “If the train service is not resumed by the end of this month, hundreds of employees like me will be forced to take rented accommodation in Srinagar as travelling is neither safe nor cheap on Kashmir roads these days,” he added.

A team of members from Passenger Service Committee Railway Board of Union Railway Ministry which conducted a two-day visit to the Valley in July had in its feedback expressed dismay over frequent train cancellations in Kashmir. It has also forced shelving railways plan to introduce a glass-roofed Vistadome coach which was aimed to attract tourist passengers.