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Train to Kashmir hits the highway
October 31, 2006 12:37 IST
Last Updated: October 31, 2006 12:40 IST
Set to chug in Kashmir's bewitching landscape in snowy February 2007, the first-ever trial train to Kashmir took off for the Valley on Tuesday not on traditional tracks but on the 300 km-long Jammu-Srinagar national highway, adding another historic chapter to the Rs 4,700 crore Jammu-Udhampur-Qazigund-Srinagar-Baramulla national rail project.
"It is addition of another chapter to the history of Indian Railways and Kashmir's national rail project, as the first trial diesel mobile unit coach on Tuesday left for Kashmir's Budgam railway station by taking a road route and not a train track from Jammu railway station," Divisional Mechinical Engineer (Northern Railways) Shiv Ram told PTI.
Soon after the 36-wheeled train pulled by a 460 HP special engine drove up the Jammu-Srinagar highway at 0700 hours, Ram said, "It sounds incredible, but the train is running on the highway from Jammu to Badgam via Srinagar. It has happened for the first time in the history of the Indian Railways that a DMU has run on a road."
Amid chanting of mantras and showering of flowers, the train, fitted with 36 big truck wheels, zig-zagged through serpentine road as people watched it chugging on the highway along with trucks and buses. Struck by surprise as the train criss-crossed the highway, onlookers on roads, in buses and from houses thronging the road stood dumbfounded.
"The only difference is that these trains are equipped not with normal iron wheels but with special truck tyres," Ram said.
Such a spectacle, a rare feat of engineering, will become a reality as first of 24 coaches left for Budgam railway station in central Kashmir. This has been made possible by replacing iron wheels of the coaches with truck tyres, which will be pulled by a trailer-truck having 460 HP specially designed engine, he said.
Feeling himself as a man walking into the history of Indian Railways and Kashmir rail project, driver of train Joginder Singh was a happy and proud person. Hailing from Bihar's Fazipora district, Singh said, "I have done Railways proud by carrying a most invaluable gift to Kashmiris."
Determined to carry all the 24 wagons to Kashmir valley for facilitating commencement of train traffic in valley in February next year, Singh said: "I will drive this train to Kashmir in anyway and this would be a small step in integrating Kashmir with rest of the country through rail traffic. I have carried many heavy equipment and other items to difficult hilly and treacherous road tracks across India including Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, but this driving a train on kashmir hills is a challenge, a milestone to cross."
Ram said once the coaches reached Badam railway yard, the truck tyres will be replaced by iron wheels for a normal run on rail tracks. Roads have been widened by cutting the corners wherever needed for the movement of this special vehicle, he added.