After facing hurdles due to "security concerns" for its launch, Railway authorities have written to various law enforcing agencies asking for their clearance to run Kashmir's first glass-roofed AC train.
A senior railway official wishing anonymity told GreaterKashmir that railways has recently sought permission from Railway ProtectionForce (RPF) and Government Railway Police ( GRP) for starting operations of thespecial train for which coaches have already been brought to the Valley.
"We have been hoping that the luxury coach be operatedduring tourist season for which we have sought permission from all concernedlaw enforcing agencies including RPF and GRP. We are awaiting a response fromtheir side," the official said.
Even after conducting the successful trial run of the luxuryglass-top train announced during 2017 union Budget, Railway authorities havebeen hesitant in operating it in the Valley. The official said even though theglass-roofed train for J&K was announced simultaneously with HimachalPradesh, the latter has already got the luxury train where it is being operatedon the Kalka-Shimla route and has attracted a large number of tourists.
As per railway officials the frequent "law and orderproblems" in the Valley have been a major roadblock. Authorities have to oftensuspend the rail services on the 137-kilometer rail line between Banihal andBaramulla as a "precautionary measure".
A senior railway official told Greater Kashmir that 63partial shutdowns and 29 complete suspension of railway services were witnessedin 2018, causing railways to suffer losses amounting to Rs 1.21 crore. Thehighest number of times train service was suspended was in June 2018 when itremained off the track for 12 days.
"On an average, we have Rs 2 lakh earnings daily which meanswe have suffered almost Rs 1.21 crore losses in 2018. In addition maintainingthe assets of the railways also involves a huge cost which puts us in red. Butwe are hoping that good sense prevails and the vistadome coach becomes areality," said the railways official.
The trial run of this first air conditioned train wassuccessfully held from Srinagar to Sadura in Anantnag last year. The railwayofficial said after receiving the necessary permissions and completion of otherformalities special AC train will run in the Valley. Catering and otherfacilities being provided in this AC train is also in the pipeline.
"The rooftop of this train is made of glass whilewindowpanes are much bigger in size than the regular railway coaches so thatboth locals and tourists boarding the train can enjoy the scenic locales of theValley," said the official.
On both front and rear side of the AC train, two coacheshave been fixed for providing the heating to the special train while both willbe side engines, he added.
"This train has been designed for sightseeing. There arespacious windows and seats in the coach. We have even kept sun roofs in it. Itis also equipped with air-conditioned facility in view of extreme cold and hotsummers here," said Kumar. The Vistadome coaches will have features likeLED lights, rotatable seats and GPS-based information system, the railwayofficial said.