Srinagar: The trial run of a train through the 11.2 km-long tunnel – India’s longest – across the Pir Panjal Mountain range in the Kashmir Valley was successfully completed yesterday, officials said. Regular services could begin by March.
The trial run started from the Qazigund railway station in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district where dozens of locals had gathered to witness the event.
A.P. Mishra, member of the railway board, said during the trial run that regular train services between Banihal town and the Valley would start in March next year. He also said the entire railway project connecting the Valley with the rest of the country would be completed by 2017.
The 11.2 km-long tunnel, which is the longest in the country, would reduce the distance between Srinagar and Jammu by nearly 35 km as it by-passes the travel over the Pir Panjal Mountain range.
The 8.40 metres wide, 7.39 metre high tunnel, which has the provision of a three-metre-wide road along its length, will also ensure an all-weather passage between the Valley and the Jammu region.
At present, heavy snowfall on the Pir Panjal Mountain range in the Bannihal sector of the Srinagar-Jammu highway results in frequent closures of the road during the winters.
Train services are presently on regularly between Anantnag, central Kashmir’s Srinagar/Badgam and north Kashmir’s Baramulla districts.