Srinagar: The train between Banihal in Jammu region and Baramulla district in Kashmir began regular operations on Thursday, a day after the Banihal-Qazigund section was inaugurated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
The train started from Banihal to Baramulla as per schedule at 7.10 am, while a train from Baramulla to Banihal chugged off at 7.35 am, railway officials said.
The train is scheduled to make five trips daily, passing through an 11-km long tunnel, the country`s longest.
The Udhampur-Banihal section of the Kashmir rail project is expected to be completed by 2017 connecting the Valley to the rest of the country round-the-year without any hindrance.
Train service started in the Valley on October 11, 2008 and was operational since then covering 118-km-long route between Qazigund in south and Baramulla in north Kashmir.
The 18-km link between Qazigund to Banihal which passes through the 11-km Pirpanjal tunnel was completed this year and was dedicated to the nation by the Prime Minister alongwith UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday.
The tunnel has been constructed using New Austrian Tunnelling Method, which has been used for the first time on such a large scale in the country.
This method optimises the tunnel design by mobilising the inherent ground strength in adopting a curved section, providing primary support system immediately after excavation and monitoring the ground behaviour while permitting it to develop its inherent strength.
A three-metre wide road has been provided inside the tunnel for maintenance and emergency rescue and relief operations.
The tunnel has been made water-proof by providing continuous PVC membrane between primary and secondary lining.