Millennium Post

PM flags off Katra train, hints at more pvt sector role

PM flags off Katra train, hints at more pvt sector role
Prime minister Narendra Modi on Friday declared that the Centre wants to win the hearts of people of Jammu and Kashmir through development as he flagged off the train linking Katra--the base camp for Mata Vaishno Devi shrine in Trikuta hills--with the rest of the country. Suggesting that the train be named ‘Shree Shakti Express’, Modi, who is on his maiden visit to J&K after assuming power, said the state has gone through many ‘problems and difficulties’ and the country wants it to be ‘prosperous and peaceful’.

The train connectivity to Katra is part of the ambitious Kashmir rail link project that will connect the Valley with the rest of the country. The last link between Katra and Banihal pass, is expected to be completed by 2018. The 25-km long Udhampur-Katra line, commissioned after prolonged delays, has been built at an estimated cost of Rs 1,132.75 crore. The train will traverse through seven tunnels and over 30 small and large bridges. There will be a small station - Chakrakhwal - between Udhampur and Katra.

Trains will be able to reach Katra directly as the 53-km Jammu-Udhampur rail line is already operational. This would enable lakhs of pilgrims headed to the revered Vaishno Devi shrine to travel directly to the base camp at Katra. ‘I congratulate the crores of devotees of Mata Vaishno Devi, who want to come here for pilgrimage from all across the country,’ Modi said while dedicating the train to the nation. The Prime Minister said the new rail link will speed up the process of development in the state.
‘The journey started by Atal Bihari Vajpayee will be continued... our priority is to win the hearts of every citizen of this state through development,’ Modi said. Modi said the train is a gift not just for people of J and K but for the whole of India. At the function at the Katra station where chief minister Omar Abdullah was among others present, the prime minister refrained from touching upon any political issue facing the state. Meanhile, Modi also hinted at an increased role of the private sector in development of railways.

‘We want the railway stations to have better facilities than airports. This is our dream and it is not a difficult thing to do and this is economically viable too. I have discussed it in detail with my Railway friends. You will see a change in near future. ‘In that, private parties would also be ready to invest because this is a good project economically and will benefit everyone. This would be a win-win situation project and we want to move ahead in this direction in the coming days,’ he said. Modi said the railway stations in metros and important cities such as Jammu would be priority for the government with regard to development of railway stations. He said the rail ministry has been given a detailed outline of the project. Railways minister Sadananda Gowda will present his maiden Rail Budget on 8 July in Parliament.
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