Srinagar: The train service between Baramulla in north Kashmir and Banihal in Jammu region, which was supposed to resume on Monday morning, was again suspended till June 9 even as the process of partial unlocking started in the Valley.
A Railway official said that the service on 137-km-long Banihal-Baramulla route, comprising 17 stations, will continue to remain suspended till June 9 to curtail the spread of the virus. “The situation will be reviewed after one week and a decision to start the railway service will be taken accordingly,” he added.
This was the third time since May 10 that the suspension of the train service was extended by a week. The Railway Authorities on May 10 suspended the train service on Baramulla-Banihal track till May 17. Later, the suspension of the service was extended by another week till May 24 and now till June 9.
Meanwhile, after a month-long ‘COVID curfew’ imposed to curtail the spread of COVID-19, shops and business establishments reopened on Monday as the process of partial unlocking started in Kashmir valley, including summer capital, Srinagar.
However, class work remained suspended as educational institutes — including schools, colleges, universities and private coaching centres — have been directed to remain closed till June 15 in the valley. All cinema halls, multiplexes, clubs, gyms, spas and paid parks would also remain closed till further orders in the valley, where weekend and night curfew would continue.
The railway service on Baramulla-Banihal track was partially resumed on February 22 after remaining suspended for over 11 months due to this pandemic.
The railway authorities had ordered suspension of train services between Banihal and Baramulla in the Kashmir division with immediate effect in March last year in view of the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic in the Union Territory. The service was initially suspended till March 31. But, the duration of suspension was extended several times due to no dwindling of COVID-19 cases.
In 2020, only a special train run of Kashmir’s first Luxury Glass-roofed AC train was held in September last year between Baramulla and Banihal for a documentary that was filmed on the 137-km-long rail link, which before the restrictions used to ferry over 30,000 commuters every day.
In order to make train journeys in Kashmir valley comfortable and exciting, the Northern Railways in 2018 introduced the first Air-Conditioned train fitted with a glass-rooftop and bigger window panes for sightseeing.
However, the full-fledged operation of the special coach was not possible, first due to unrest post abrogation of special status of J&K on August 5 in 2019 and later due to COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. (UNI)