Kangra valley railway – face of neglect

PALAMPUR: Kangra valley railway narrow gauge line, which plays significant role in the economy of this region of Himachal Pradesh, is in bad shape. Thanks to the apathy of Indian Railways, which made no efforts in past seventy years to convert this 120 kilometers long rail track into broad gauge line. The Britishers had laid down Kangra valley narrow gauge railway line in 1932 linking all important and religious towns of Kangra and part of Mandi districts. It is stated that the main object to lay this track was to carry heavy equipment for the installation of first ever hydro electric Power House at Jaoginder Nagar.

Unfortunately Indian Railways have not added even a single brick to this track in past 73 years. Number of plans was drawn up to convert this narrow gauge line into broad gauge line but all remained confined to files. With the manifold increase in the population and increase in the tourist traffic in past 25 years to the Kangra valley, but in the changed scenario the railways have failed to come to the expectations of the local people. The same century old and outdated engines and coaches have still been plying on this track. Even the railway authorities could not introduce the regular first class compartment here.At present seven trains are plying on this route daily covering 33 stations passing through important places like Nurpur, Jwali, Jwalamukhi Road, Kangra, Nagrota Bagwan, Chamunda, Palampur, Baijnath and Jogindernagar, which are also the major tourists attraction centers of the state. Railway authorities have been extending step motherly treatment to this rail section. No efforts were made even to set up a proper ticket window at Pathankot for this section.

The condition of the rail track between Pathankot and Joginder nagar has gone from bad to worse in past ten years, as the railway authorities have no funds to repair the same. Several small and big bridges are in bad shape. The retaining walls on the tracks have developed major cracks. Wooden logs of the railway line had already lived its life but no efforts were made to replace the same, which could result in any tragedy at any time time. The residential quarters and railway station buildings are also crying for repair.

Besides, almost all the 33 railway stations of Kangra valley railway line lack all basic facilities like drinking water, cleanliness and waiting room for the passengers. One would not believe that one dozen railway stations have been functioning in one room. Patti, Chauntra, Paror and Chamunda railway stations have no room for the passenger to sit. Even these stations have no temporary shed to save the passengers from sun and rain.

Family quarters of railway employees are the verge of collapse; their families are living in hellish conditions. No senior officer of the railways bothers to visit the track

Kangra valley is situated in the foot hills of Himalayas attract lakh of tourists every year, if the rail services are improved and better amenities are provided to the passengers, tourists would prefer to travel by train. The efforts should also be made to convert this rail line into broad gauge line. In past ten years all small gauge and meter gauge rail line in the south India have been converted into broad gauge line but the northern part of the country has been neglected in this field. If this line were converted into broad gauge line it would not only be convenient to local residents but would also add additional revenue to the railway authorities.

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A CENTURY OLD RAILWAY ENGINE IS STILL PLYING ON KANGRA VALLEY RAILWAY LINE.

A senior journalist from Palampur.

7 Comments

  • Dear Sir,
    You have perhaps missed one point.Among other things that you have mentioned in your article this railway line should also be inluded for the status of Heritage railway line on the pattern of Kalka-Shimla railway line.

    Omkar Sharma

  • Dear Mr. Sood,

    Thanks for taking up time and expressing your concerns.
    You are very true that Kangra Valley train service is in worst shape and nothing appears is being done to save it from its total collapse. I personally feel that along with railway administration, the state government is equally responsible for this. This is true that functioning of railway is under the control of the central govt but in ours format of state –Center relationship, the state govt is equally empowered to take up these issues with the concerned ministry in the larger interest of the people of the state.
    However, I do not belong to Himanchal Pradesh but I love the places and people of the state. Whenever I get time, I try to visit the different locations of our country but more especially mountains attract me maximum. During my extensive traveling, I have sincerely realised that the life of the people living in these beautiful mountains is full of Challenges. Even for the basic minimum need, you are required to work very-very hard. I have a great sense of respect and Hats off to these great, brave and beautiful people of Indian Mountains.
    Kangra Valley Railway is one of the four mountain railways under the belt of the Indian railway Ministry, but most glaring fact about this issue is that all these four mountain railway tracks were created during British regime.
    In the last more than 60 years of independence, not even a single new mountain railway track could even be planned by our great railway ministry. The most biter part of the railway administration is that, even they are least bothered to improve the functioning of these existing mountain railways.
    Out of the four existing mountain railway tracks in our country, the condition of the Kangra Valley mountain railway, connecting Pathankot and Joginder Nagar, is worst. This mountain railway is the serious victim of negligence of the railway administration in terms of human, technical as well as the passengers amenities.
    Recently we have visited Udagmandalam (OOTY) and we preferred to visit this great mountain by Nilgiri Mountain Railway, which runs between Metupalayam and Udagmandalm. It was a Great-Great Journey in terms of the most beautiful mountain views, climatic conditions and above all the Great people of this region. Though the local language is not understood by north Indian visitors like us but communication is not a problem at all, as the people are so cooperative and friendly as they would try to communicate and convince you with every possible communicable word and gesture.
    The overall functioning of the Nilgiri Mountain Railway is far-far better than Kangra Valley Railway, except the fact that the condition of the so-called First Class coach of this train is even worse than the Second class coaches. There is no bathroom even in the first class coach, But once again expressing the fact that the maintained of this railway, in terms of track maintenance, maintenance of all the stations between Metupalayam and Ooty and other passenger facilities available at the different stations are great. It was a lifetime experience to visit Ooty by Nilgiri Mountain Railway. Thanks you Railway and Tamilnadu govt for maintaining this so nicely.
    Mr. Sharma in its comment above has mentioned that Kangra Valley Railway is not in the list of Heritage railway and that is the reason of its existing condition.
    I would request our Railway Minister and other concerned authorities of other concerned ministries to urgently look into the issue and to do everything possible to give a face-lift to all the Mountain Railways in India in general and the Kangra Valley Railway in particular.
    Thank You All for taking up time and listening my views.
    Alok K Singh

  • Myself also agreeing that the railway minister should take initiative to renovate this Pathankot- Jogindernagar line and introducing new railway lines with other areas like Dalhousie, Palampur,Dharamshala and interior Himachal etc with regular trains although is always very expensive. But private operators can be invited for new lines.
    The hill-railway journey is always invigoreting at the cost of time consumed and slow locomotion. But can be speeded up alike Kalka-Shimla railway.

    A representation with local people, MLA /MP there and tourists should be sent to the RAIL BHAVAN/ Railway MInistry, New Delhi.

    -Pradip

  • Best Thing would be to

    1)Make a Samiti , a platform that would represent the cause
    1)organize a protest rally
    2)Invite Media and ask them to give full coverage.
    3) In this election scenario the parties will scramble to include this issue in there manifesto and hopefully the long standing demand may become a reality

  • Dear Mr Sood,

    I hail from Palampur (Born and brought up) and presently lives in London.
    I have dreams for Kangra valley to have some facilities and development as it is happening in Punjab, Haryana, Delhi.
    Where Himachal lacks is poor Infrastrcuture-Transportation and which is first hurdle in any place’s development.
    I appreciate your article in bringing this issue BUT this will get buried among our great leaders who have no vision for development of HP.

    I can suggest few things and feel free to team up together to make this issue BIG enough, so that this dream can take shape –

    1. Only this issue can ring bell among Politicians, Businessmen and local people is thru awareness. Media has to take initiative on this and make this issue big enough, so that it appears in Newspapers, Television news, Advertisement etc. We can collect money and fund for the advertisement of this issue.
    2. I am in software and would be any day happy to work for Infosys, Wipro if they have development centre in Kangra distt. These companies will be happy to start operations in Kangra BUT transportation is a hindrance. No body likes to travelmore than 2-3 hours by Bus and prefers Train journey instead.
    3. The project will be economically viable. Look at number of buses plying from Baijnath/ Dharamshala/Palampur to Pathankot/ Delhi. I am sure they will fill 2 trains, each with 12 coaches to Delhi. This will be a boon for economic development for Kangra distt.
    4. Regarding technical viability – There can be a separate railline along NH (Mandi – Pathankot Highway). This will pass thru most of crowded areas and most of the terrain is Plain area as compared to existing Narrow Guage.
    5. If Railway deptt is not willing to finance the project, there are alternatives. HP Govt. is they wish, can get the money from World Bank and finance this whole project on their own and link to Pathankot. Its just require will power and initiative from visionary leaders.

    I hope you will take more initiative and raise awareness of this important development issue of Kangra people to Politicians, local people, Central Govt etc.

    If you need to talk/ chat more about, Pl. feel free to drop a line to my contact details.

    Regards,

    Rajat Gupta

  • Very true Mr Rajat vision is very important for mission. Hope some visionary leader take up this matter seriously and very true people do not prefer to travel in bus for long.

    Govt should take the help of central govt to atleast give the basic required maintenece to this track. Kalak – Shimla Railway track took a journey of 105 yrs to get recognized as Hertiage track……

    Hope your dream become true very soon.

  • I belongs to punjab, but i like tourism in himachal pradesh. I enjoyed the kangra valley railway trip 2 times with my friends. It was unique journey, i likes to see mountains, greenry, water falls, small temples from the window of kangra valley train. It is one of the cheap and best way to explore kangra valley. There are number of limitations and lack of facilities in kangra valley train, but hope so indian railway provides the required facilities as early as possible.

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