Srinagar: The train service between Budagm in central Kashmir and Banihal in Jammu region would resume partially from Thursday after remaining suspended for 52 days due to COVID-19 pandemic.
However, train service between Budgam and Baramulla in north Kashmir would continue to remain suspended.
A Railway official Saqib Yousuf said that the train service between Budgam and Banihal will partially resume from Thursday. “Only four trains — two in the morning and as many in the evening — will ply on the track,” he said.
He said trains will continue to remain off the track on Budagm-Baramulla route till further orders. “The decision to restore train service on this track will be taken after further reviewing the situation,” he added.
Train service on 137-km-long Banihal-Baramulla route, comprising of 17 stations, was suspended on May 10 to curtail the spread of unabated rise in the number of COVID-19 cases.
The partial restoration of the train service, which has become an important means of commute for people in the valley, comes weeks after the administration in Kashmir eased COVID restrictions following significant decline in the number of infection cases.
The railway service on Baramulla-Banihal track was partially resumed on February 22 this 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 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 journey in Kashmir valley comfortable and exciting, the Northern Railways in 2018 introduced the first Air-Conditioned train fitted with a glass-rooftop and bigger windowpanes 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)