Kangra valley narrow gauge rail line in tatters

Kangra valley narrow gauge railway line which passes through key tourist destinations is lying in tatters.

Dharamsala: The Kangra valley narrow gauge railway line which passes through key tourist destinations here is lying in tatters, in spite of appeals by senior state leaders for its conversion into a broad gauge line.

The 120-km long rail line was laid by the British government and plays a big role in the economy of this region.

The area is having the seat of Dalai Lama and an International Cricket Centre.

The Speaker of the Himachal Pradesh Assembly, BBL Butail, met Rail Minster last week to raise the matter.

Butail said, "The rail minister was told about the present condition of the track and the necessity of its conversion to change the economy of the people of the area."

He said that the minister agreed to look into the matter.

Chief Minister Virhhadra Singh also said that he will shortly meet the Rail Minister to intimate him about the rail requirements of the state.

Geographically the area is almost flat and highly populated, an official said.

When rail lines could be laid in tough terrains of Kashmir Valley why not here, he said.

The railway line was planned in May 1926 and commissioned in 1929. The highest point on this line is at Ahju station at an elevation of 1,210 meters (3,970 ft).

The terminus at Joginder Nagar is at an elevation of 1,189 meters (3,901 ft).

The railway line, linking all important and religious towns of Kangra and parts of Mandi district (most populated area of the state) is waiting for a broad gauge conversion.

Recently, president of BJP`s youth wing, Anuraag Thakur, also met Rail Minister and appealed for a broad-gauge line for Kangra valley.

Anuraag, who is also MP from Hamirpur said, "I told Rail Minister that as Dharamsala is now an International Cricket destination, a broad-gauge rail is needed. This is also required as a lot of tourists visit the area to meet Dalai Lama."

During the past few years, number of plans were drawn up to convert this narrow-gauge line into a broad-gauge.

Old engines and coaches are still plying on this track as authorities could not introduce the regular compartment here.