Rail connectivity to Katra, the base camp of Vaishno Devi shrine, has been completed and passenger services will start shortly, Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge today said.

Listing out the achievements of Railways during UPA-II, he said the opening of the Udhampur-Katra section under the ambitious Kashmir Rail project will enable lakhs of pilgrims from across the country to visit Vaishno Devi shrine.

“The construction has been completed and trial runs have started. We expect to run passenger train services up to Katra very shortly,” he said in his Interim Railway Budget speech.

He said the Kashmir project achieved a major milestone last June when the 11.2 km—long tunnel, linking Banihal with Qazikund in the Valley, became operational.

Specially designed coaches for adverse weather conditions have been inducted for rail travel in Kashmir Valley, he said, adding corrosion resistant and lighter wagons with capability to carry extra pay—load at higher speed potential up to 100 kmph have been developed.

During the 11th Plan Period, he said railways completed 2,207 km of newlines against the target of 2,000 km while rolling stock acquisitions surpassed the target and 64,875 wagons were acquired, he said.

(This article was published on February 12, 2014)
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