Srinagar, Nov 06: In an effort to enhance the transportation in the valley with the rest of the country, the Jammu and Kashmir administration in collaboration with Northern Railways aims at facilitating the transportation of goods across the country, through the construction of cargo terminals along the Baramulla-Banihal railway line in Kashmir.
Chief Area Manager (CAM) Kashmir, Saqib Yousuf Yatoo (IRTS) told Rising Kashmir that railways have identified suitable locations for these cargo terminals under the Gati Shakti Cargo Rail Terminal (GCT) scheme.
Recently, an Expression of Interest (EOI) was issued by the Sr Divisional Commercial Manager/FS of Northern Railway Firozpur, on behalf of the President of India, for the establishment of cargo terminals as part of the GCT scheme.
A senior official from the revenue department said that within the next one to two years, the Banihal and Baramulla railway line will be connected to the rest of the country.
“To support this, land has been earmarked for the construction of warehouses and go-downs at various locations along the railway line, including Srinagar, Baramulla, Sopore, Awantipora, Pampore, and Budgam. The local administration is collaborating with the railways to facilitate this process,” he said.
The official said there is a heavy reliance on highways for transportation in Kashmir, and while new roads are being constructed, railways will play a crucial role in bridging the transportation gap more safely and efficiently.
Under the GCT Scheme, all new cargo terminals will adhere to specific policies. The Gati Shakti Multi-Model Cargo Terminal Operator (GCTO) will cover the entire capital cost of new terminals from the take-off point onwards, while common user facilities and infrastructure upgrades within the station limit will be the responsibility of the railway.
The selection of GCTO will be based on open tenders, with eligible bidders quoting their percentage of terminal charges.
The selection of locations for GCTs is determined based on industry demand and the potential for cargo traffic. Private players are expected to develop these terminals, which can be situated on non-railway or partially on railway land.
Railway transportation is considered the most cost-effective means of transportation, and these sanctioned terminals are anticipated to have a positive impact on farmers transporting their produce to various parts of the country.
The Banihal-Baramulla railway line, spanning 137 kilometers and comprising 17 stations, currently supports more than 25 service trains running between Baramulla-Banihal and Budgam-Banihal sections.
On October 22, Union Minister of Railways, Communications, Electronics, and Information Technology, Ashwini Vaishnaw, announced that the Baramulla-Banihal railway track, connecting Jammu to Srinagar, is set to be finished by December of this year.
He highlighted a remarkable increase in the project budget, soaring from 1000 Crore to 6000 Crore, which has considerably accelerated the project's pace.
Vaishnaw expressed confidence in the imminent completion of the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Link Project (USBRL) by year-end, underscoring the substantial progress made in connecting Jammu with Kashmir's railway network.