Srinagar: The train service between Baramulla in north Kashmir and Banihal in Jammu division has been suspended for two days from Wednesday to curtail the spread of COVID-19 during heavy rush expected on the occasion of Eid-Ul-Adha.
Official sources said that no train will ply on Budgam-Baramulla and Budgam-Banihal routes on Wednesday and Thursday in view of COVID-19 pandemic. “The decision to suspend the train service has been taken keeping in consideration the safety of passengers,” they added.
Authorities in the past also had suspended train runs on Baramulla-Banihal track during the festivals, including Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha, to prevent damage to the railway property. Railway property worth lakhs of rupees has been damaged by people in the past in stone pelting incidents.
The train service on Budgam-Baramulla route was partially restored on July 14 after remaining suspended for over two months. The development had come a fortnight after partial train service was allowed on Budgam-Banihal route in view of significant decline in the number of COVID-19 cases in J&K.
Train service on 137-km-long Banihal-Baramulla route, comprising of 17 stations, was suspended on May 10 to curtail the spread of unabated rise in the number of COVID-19 cases.
The railway service on Baramulla-Banihal track was partially resumed on February 22 this year after remaining suspended for over 11 months due to this pandemic. The railway authorities had ordered suspension of train services between Banihal and Baramulla in the Kashmir division with immediate effect in March last year in view of the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic in the Union Territory. The service was initially suspended till March 31. But, the duration of suspension was extended several times due to no dwindling of COVID-19 cases.
In 2020, only a special train run of Kashmir’s first Luxury Glass-roofed AC train was held in September last year between Baramulla and Banihal for a documentary that was filmed on the 137-km-long rail link, which before the restrictions used to ferry over 30,000 commuters every day.
In order to make train journey in Kashmir valley comfortable and exciting, the Northern Railways in 2018 introduced the first Air-Conditioned train fitted with a glass-rooftop and bigger windowpanes for sightseeing.
However, the full-fledged operation of the special coach was not possible, first due to unrest post abrogation of special status of J&K on August 5 in 2019 and later due to COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.