Srinagar:The train service has been suspended between Baramulla in north Kashmir and Banihal in Jammu region for six days from Tuesday in view of unabated rise in the number of fresh COVID-19 cases and deaths in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
A Railway official said that the service on 137-km-long Banihal-Baramulla route, comprising of 17 stations, will be suspended from Tuesday till May 16 to curtail the spread of the virus.
However, he said trains are plying normally as per schedule on Monday though very few people have been using the service in view of ‘COVID curfew’ imposed by administration in the valley since April 29.
The Jammu and Kashmir administration on Sunday extended the ‘COVID curfew’, which was scheduled to end on Monday, till May 17 in all 20 districts of the Union Territory. The extension in the lockdown in the UT has come in the backdrop of unabated rise in the number of Covid-19 cases in J&K, particularly the summer capital, Srinagar, which has recorded the major chunk of positive cases during the last about 28 days. Srinagar alone, out of 5190 new Covid-19 cases in J&K, reported 920 cases on Sunday followed by Jammu with 658 cases. Of the 54 deaths recorded on Sunday in the UT, 22 were from Kashmir and 32 from Jammu.
The railway service on Baramulla-Banihal track was partially resumed on February 22 after remaining suspended for over 11 months due to COVID-19 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 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 let up in 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.