Tuesday, July 8, 2014

India by train (Udhampur-Katra)

1905: Maharaja Pratap Singh approved a rail line between Jammu and Srinagar via Reasi through Moghul road....involved a 2 ft (610 mm) gauge railway climbing all the way to the Moghul road pass at 11,000 feet (3,353 m) over the Pir Panjal Range....present day Pir Panjal Railway Tunnel (Banihal Rail Tunnel)'s average elevation 1,760 m....

The best way to know India is to travel by train. We have been long fascinated by the Indian Railways Time Tables - "Trains at a glance" 

For the data-obsessed boy-child there are too many wonderful things to think about: number of rail-lines (also type: broad gauge, meter gauge and narrow gauge), the junction stations, the (often remote) terminal stations, the running speed of "fast" express trains, the famous food joint-points  (for example, biryani in Igatpuri station on the Bombay-Calcutta line is renowned), the length of tunnels platforms and bridges, the hill station route details and so much more...

The newest rail link to the North is Udhampur-Katra in Jammu and Kashmir, Katra is the base station for the famous Vaishnodevi temple. Just like the Konkan railway two decades ago, the Katra link is an engineering marvel. Even more spectacular will be the Katra-Banihal-Qazigund link which pierces the Pir Panjal mountains. The details of the Kashmir railway and the latest Katra-Udhampur link are noted below.
Also noted below are the latest newest trains announced in the Rail budget by Hon minister for Railways- Sadanand Gowda. The rail stations indicated cover the length and breadth of India (this time special priority has been given for the North-East). How well do we know all of them??

Saharsa is a small town in Bihar near the Nepal border (so is Darbhanga). Habibganj is a suburb of Bhopal. Nizamuddin is a terminus for south-bound trains serving Delhi, Anand Vihar is the terminus for East and North-East bound trains. Howrah is the terminal station for Kolkata (for south and west bound trains) while Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (LTT) is the terminus for Mumbai (north-east, east, and southbound trains). 

Interesting new station names are Naharlagun (Arunachal Pradesh) and Murkong Selek (Nagalnd) and Baiyyappanahali (Bangalore).
[ref. Wiki] 1897: The railway line from Jammu to Sialkot was first built, becoming the first railway in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

1898: Maharaja Pratap Singh first explored the possibility of a railway line connecting Jammu with Srinagar. For various reasons including complications with the British government and political frictions this was put on hold.
1902: Britain proposed a rail link following the Jhelum River connecting Srinagar to Rawalpindi. This was not popular as the residents of the state lived mostly in Jammu and Srinagar and interacted via the more southerly Moghul road. Politics did not favor this proposal.
1905: Britain again proposed a link between Rawalpindi and Srinagar. Maharaja Pratap Singh approved a rail line between Jammu and Srinagar via Reasi through Moghul road. 
This audacious line was to have involved a 2 ft (610 mm) or 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) gauge railway climbing all the way to the Moghul road pass at 11,000 feet (3,353 m) over the Pir Panjal Range compared to the present day Pir Panjal Railway Tunnel (Banihal Rail Tunnel)'s average elevation 1,760 m. 
As planned it would have been electric-powered and would have used the mountain streams as a source of hydro-electric power. In retrospect it was perhaps just as well that it was not built. Though it would have been spectacular, the narrow gauge and high-altitude pass would have meant it was not all weather and also constrained to low speed and capacity, similar to the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway.

1947: With partition, the Jammu-Sialkot Line was closed and Jammu was disconnected from Indian railways. A new line from Pathankot to Jammu had to be laid. It was proposed that this be extended to Srinagar but the preliminary survey of the Pir Panjal quickly squashed the thought, especially for a poor country with higher priorities.
1983: The prime minister kicked off the line from Jammu Tawi to Udhampur. An optimistic schedule of five years and a budget of INR500 million (US$8.4 million) was set.

1994: The railway minister declared the need for a railway line to Baramulla and the Kashmir Valley. Upon further review it was revealed that this would be a 'hanging' railway running from Qazigund to Srinagar and on to Baramulla. The line from Katra to Qazigund through the mountains still looked unattainable.

July 2002: The Vajpayee Government declared the line a National Project. This meant that it would be constructed and completed irrespective of cost. The central government would fund the entire project. This was important, as the railways did not have the now estimated cost of INR60 billion (US$1.0 billion) for the entire project. By the Railways' allocation it would have taken 60 years to complete the project. A challenging deadline of 15 August 2007, Independence Day, was also set.
13 April 2005: The 53 km (33 mi) long Jammu-Udhampur line was inaugurated, 21 years and INR5.15 billion (US$86.5 million) after its commencement, marking the completion of "Leg 0". The line had 20 major tunnels and 158 bridges. Its longest tunnel was 2.5 km (1.6 mi) and its highest bridge was 77 m (253 ft) - the highest railway bridge in India. This is in the relatively easy Shivalik Hills.
2008: The Ministry of Railways ordered cancellation of the project on the existing alignment between Katra and Qazigund, due to suspected geological instabilities. It instructed Konkan Railway to stop all work on the section, including the Chenab Bridge, and to terminate all contracts issued for work on the section, pending consideration of major changes in the alignment.
The Railway Board constituted a high-level committee to examine the feasibility of "Leg 2" of the project and to rework the alignment through the Pir Panjal Mountains proposing to undertake a fresh survey for construction of the line on a shorter alignment.
11 October 2008: The first isolated section of 66 km (41 mi) between Manzhama and Anantnag on Leg 3 was inaugurated, 14 months behind schedule. The train service will operate twice a day in either direction. Complications continued to plague the connection to the plains.
14 February 2009: The train service on Leg 3 was extended to Baramulla.
June 2009: Work on the section between Katra and Qazigund resumed after the committee set up to review the alignment approved the existing one with minor changes. Additional geo-technical tests of the rock strata and changes to other portions of the alignment changes were to be reviewed.
28 October 2009: The 18 km (11 mi) long section from Anantnag to Qazigund was inaugurated by the prime minister marking the completion of Leg 3.
2011-12: Boring of the new 11.215 km (7-mile) long Banihal-Qazigund tunnel connecting Bichleri Valley of Banihal with Qazigund in Kashmir Valley completed in October 2011, its lining and laying of rail tracks was completed in the next one year and trial run commenced on 28 December 2012.
2013: Pir Panjal Railway Tunnel and Banihal station opened.
9 December 2013: Trial train arrived Katra.
11 June 2014 : A trial train from Delhi arrived prior to the inauguration of the Udhampur-Katra line and the Katra Railway Station.
4 July 2014 : Train journey on Udhampur-Katra line was officially inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The train was named "Shree Shakti Express" 

New Trains
(1) Jansadharan Trains
  • Ahmedabad–Darbhanga Jansadharan Express via Surat
  • Jaynagar–Mumbai Jansadharan Express
  • Mumbai–Gorakhpur Jansadharan Express
  • Saharasa–Anand Vihar Jansadharan Express via Motihari
  • Saharasa–Amritsar Jansadharan Express
(2) Premium Trains
  • Mumbai Central–New Delhi Premium AC Express
  • Shalimar–Chennai Premium AC Express
  • Secunderabad-­ Hazrat Nizamuddin Premium AC Express
  • Jaipur–Madurai Premium Express
  • Kamakhya–Bengaluru Premium Express
(3) AC Express Trains
  • Vijayawada­-NewDelhi AP Express (Daily)
  • LokmanyaTilak(T)–Lucknow(Weekly)
  • Nagpur–Pune(Weekly)
  • Nagpur–Amritsar(Weekly)
  • Naharlagun–NewDelhi(Weekly)
  • Nizamuddin–Pune(Weekly)
(4) Express Trains
  • Ahmedabad–Patna Express(Weekly)via Varanasi
  • Ahmedabad­ Chennai Express(Bi­weekly)via Vasai Road
  • Bengaluru –Mangalore Express(Daily)
  • Bengaluru –Shimoga Express(Bi­weekly)
  • Bandra(T)–Jaipur Express(Weekly)Via Nagda,Kota
  • Bidar–Mumbai Express(Weekly)
  • Chhapra–Lucknow Express (Tri­ weekly)viaBallia,Ghazipur,Varanasi
  • Ferozpur–Chandigarh Express(6 days a week)
  • Guwahati–Naharlagun Intercity Express(Daily)
  • Guwahati–Murkongselek Intercity Express(Daily)
  • Gorakhpur–Anand Vihar Express(Weekly)
  • Hapa–Bilaspur Express(Weekly)via Nagpur
  • Hazur Saheb Nanded–Bikaner Express(Weekly)
  • Indore–Jammu Tawi Express(Weekly)
  • Kamakhya–Katra Express(Weekly)via Darbhanga
  • Kanpur–Jammu Tawi Express(Bi­weekly)
  • Lokmanya Tilak(T)–Azamgarh Express(Weekly)
  • Mumbai_Kazipeth Express(Weekly)via Balharshah
  • Mumbai–Palitana Express(Weekly)
  • New Delhi ­Bhatinda Shatabdi Express(Bi­weekly)
  • New Delhi–Varanasi Express(Daily)
  • Paradeep–Howrah Express(Weekly)
  • Paradeep–Visakhapatnam Express(Weekly)
  • Rajkot–Rewa Express(Weekly)
  • Ramnagar–Agra Express(Weekly)
  • Tatanagar Baiyyappanahali (Bengaluru) Express(Weekly)
  • Visakhapatnam–Chennai Express(Weekly)
(5) Passenger Trains
  • Bikaner–Rewari Passenger(Daily)
  • Dharwad–Dandeli Passenger(Daily)via Alnavar
  • Gorakhpur–Nautanwa Passenger(Daily)
  • Guwahati–Mendipathar Passenger(Daily)
  • Hatia–Rourkela Passenger
  • Byndoor–Kasaragod Passenger(Daily)
  • Rangapara North–Rangiya Passenger(Daily)
  • Yesvantpur–Tumkur Passenger(Daily)
(6) MEMU Services

Bengaluru –Ramanagaram 6 days a week(3Pairs)

(7) DEMU Services

Bengaluru –Neelmangala (Daily)
Chhapra–Manduadih (6days a week)via Ballia
Baramula–Banihal (Daily)
Sambalpur–Rourkela (6 days a week)
Yesvantpur ­Hosur (6 days a week)

(8) Extension of Run of Existing Trains
  • 22409/22410 Anand Vihar Sasaram Garib Rath Express to Gaya
  • 12455/12456 Delhi Sarai Rohilla Sriganganagar Express to Bikaner
  • 15231/15232 Gondia Muzaffarpur Express to Barauni
  • 12001/12002 New Delhi Bhopal Shatabdi Express to Habibganj
  • 54602 Ludhiana–Hissar Passenger to Sadulpur
  • 55007/55008 Sonpur–Kaptanganj Passenger to Gorakhpur
  • 55072/55073 Gorakhpur–Thawe Passenger to Siwan
  • 63237/63238Buxar–Mughalsarai MEMU to Varanasi
  • 63208/63211Jhajha–Patna MEMU to Jasidih
  • 64221/64222LucknowHardoi MEMU to Shahjahan pur
  • 68002/68007Howrah–Belda MEMU to Jaleswar

Link(1): http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/narendra-modi-to-flag-off-special-train-to-vaishno-devi-katra/1/369784.html

Link(2): http://www.outlookindia.com/news/printitem.aspx?848640



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