NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will take a short train ride on Saturday, opening a new vista for the Indian Railways and the people of Kashmir.
The Prime Minister, accompanied by Railway Minister Lalu Prasad, is scheduled to flag off a passenger train and with that launch train services in the Valley during his two-day visit to Kashmir starting Friday.
Dr. Singh would inaugurate the new train at Nowgam (the station near Srinagar) to Budgam, connecting the State capital with central Kashmir. He is expected to board the DMU (Diesel Multiple Unit) train at Nowgam in a symbolic gesture of connecting with the aspirations of the Valley.
This small stretch is part of the section that connects Baramulla (north Kashmir) with Qazigund (south Kashmir). The commercial run of trains, however, on this 120 km-long section would begin at a later date. The completion of the national project, which is being described as an engineering marvel topped with the highest rail bridge in the world, of connecting Kashmir with the rest of the country, was expected to take a few more years. The structure of the Srinagar station (Nowgam), based on the local woodwork and Kashmiri architecture, reaches out to the landscape, preserving the natural beauty of the place.