Railway minister prabhu announces 3 special trains to Jammu, Katra - watsupptoday.com
Railway minister prabhu announces 3 special trains to Jammu, Katra
Posted 27 Nov 2016 05:28 PM

Railways Minister Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu today announced three new special trains for Jammu and Katra from Mumbai (Maharashtra), Howrah (West Bengal) and Ahmedabad (Gujarat) and special trains of Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) in the Kashmir valley to give boost to the tourism. He also announced two new halting stations at Ratnipora and Sadura in the Valley for DMU trains, running between Baramulla and Banihal.
These announcements among others were made by Prabhu during a meeting with Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti in New Delhi this morning.
Prabhu also announced Seasonal Tourism Packages starting with this winter for attracting tourists to Pahalgam, Gulmarg, Katra and Sonamarg etc on the lines of Buddhist tourist, semi-luxury tourism and luxury tourism.
An official handout released to the Excelsior by Anil Saxena, Additional Director General, Public Relations, Railway Board, said the Railways Minister said special trains are being planned to Jammu and Katra from Howrah, Mumbai and Ahmedabad, which would further improve rail connectivity between Jammu and Kashmir and Maharashtra, West Bengal and Gujarat from where a large number of tourists and pilgrim tourists visit the State every year.
The trains were likely to be launched shortly.
Saxena said Suresh Prabhu and Mehbooba Mufti discussed in detail the restoration of all train services in the Kashmir valley at the earliest after taking necessary security clearance. The train services in the Kashmir Valley, which run between Baramulla to Banihal, had been suspended more than four months back due to unrest in the wake of killing of Hizbul Mujahideen divisional commander Burhan Wani. Recently, the Railways had conducted trial run of the train after over four months of suspension but the service has been restored in very limited areas as unrest hasn’t completely died down and the Railways, which has already suffered losses to its property in the unrest, didn’t want to take more chances.
The Railways would resume complete services in the Valley from Baramulla to Banihal only after getting security clearance from the Railways Security Wing as well as Jammu and Kashmir Police.
The Railways handout said the Railways Minister in his meeting with Mehbooba Mufti announced launch of IRCTC-Special trains to promote tourism in the Kashmir valley. Such trains would be launched shortly while glass top coached will also be commissioned at the earliest.
Saxena said the Railways Minister proposed Ratnipora and Sadura as new halting stations for the DMU trains running in the Kashmir valley between Baramulla and Budgam. These new stations will be commissioned shortly. He added that the Railways also proposed to run special train exclusively for children after every 15 days in the Valley. A suitable name for the train is being searched.
The Railways handout said Suresh Prabhu and Mehbooba Mufti decided to involve local population of Jammu and Kashmir as active stake holders in development of Railways in the Kashmir valley.
The ways and means to evolve local population will be devised and worked out shortly, which would help the locals of the Kashmir valley as well as the Railways.
Prabhu assured Mehbooba Mufti that the IRCTC will contribute in popularizing the local Kashmiri cuisine through static and dynamic catering unit of Indian Railways.
“The IRCTC will work towards firming up Seasonal Tourism Packages starting with the `Winter Package 2016′ for attracting tourists to Pahalgam, Gulmarg, Katra, Sonamarg etc on similar lines as has been done to promote Buddhist tourism, semi-luxury and luxury tourism,” Prabhu said.
The Railways Minister, as per the Ministry’s handout, apprised the Chief Minister that Member Rolling Stock would be organizing a Vendor Development Camp in the Kashmir valley soon to showcase the items required by the Railways, which can be supplied by Jammu and Kashmir vendors.
He also informed her that IRCTC through the medium of Indian Railways would serve as an interface to boost the sale of local handicrafts of Jammu and Kashmir. A camp would be organized inviting the local artisans of Jammu and Kashmir to showcase their merchandise, which can be supplied to the Railways.
An official handout issued by the State Government said: Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti today sought involvement of Indian Railways in promoting tourism and handicrafts of Jammu & Kashmir by introducing JK-specific linkages on many of its product portfolios. She also sought early completion of rail projects in the State.
Interacting with Minister for Railways, Suresh Prabhu in New Delhi, the Chief Minister said Jammu & Kashmir has been bestowed with huge tourism potential and varied and quality handicrafts but due to inadequate linkages to potential buyers and customers the market potential has not yet been properly tapped. She said Indian Railways with its extensive networks and customer base could become a game-changer for the State in this connection.
Spelling out her ideas, Mehbooba Mufti requested providing stalls at various Railway Stations to showcase the handicraft products from the State. She also suggested introduction of products from J&K on the portal of Indian Railways and inclusion of Kashmiri cuisine in Railway menu. This, she said, would introduce crafts and cuisine of the State among a vast population of railway passengers.
Mehbooba sought support of the Railways in promoting tourism in the State. She requested running of tourism special trains and increasing frequency of many other already running trains to the State. She suggested adding Glass Top Railway Coaches in trains operating within the State to let the passengers enjoy the scenery and flora and fauna of Jammu & Kashmir onboard. She also suggested introduction of see-through luxury trains from Qazigund to Baramulla and Jammu to Katra to familiarize tourists with the Natural beauty of the State and attract more of them.
The Chief Minister requested the Union Minister for starting a Jammu to Amritsar train in the morning and Amritsar to Jammu train in the evening. She also requested changing the timings of Delhi-Jammu Shatabdi Express to promote tourists to spend atleast a day at Jammu. She also requested for connecting more and more tourist spots in the State with railway network in the State.
About the ongoing Railway projects in the State, the Chief Minister requested expediting work on Jammu-Srinagar rail link which she said on completion would not only improve connectivity to Kashmir valley but also improve the trade and social connectivity between people of Jammu and Kashmir regions. She also requested inclusion of more stops on the Banihal-Baramulla track and creation of more job opportunities for the youth of the State in Railway infrastructure in the State.
Responding to the suggestions and requests made by the Chief Minister, Minister for Railways, Suresh Prabhu appreciated the Chief Minister for seeking Railway’s involvement in promoting J&K and its trades. He said that his Department would take concrete measures to translate her suggestions into action.
The Railway Minister assured the Chief Minister that work on the Katra-Banihal section of the Jammu-Srinagar rail line would be put on fast mode to get it completed at the earliest. He said he is seized of the importance of connecting Jammu and Kashmir via rail in view of a difficult road link presently. “Already rail service has been extended to Katra from Jammu side and upto Banihal from Kashmir side and work on the remaining patch would be put on fast forward mode”, he added.
Prabhu assured Mehbooba Mufti that work on many of her suggestions would start soon. He said Glass Top Railway Coaches would be introduced in the State within a year and also possibilities would be explored to introduce Valley on Wheels in the State.
Senior officials of Indian Railways were present during the meeting.
Earlier, the Chief Minister arrived in the national capital on a three days visit.

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