Banihal: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday undertook a train journey through the 11-km long tunnel under the Pir Panjal mountain ranges along with school children most of whom travelled by rail for the first time.
Singh interacted with students during the 18-km train journey from Banihal to Qazigund which reduces the distance between the two towns by nearly half.
The Banihal-Qazigund rail section includes an 11-km long tunnel, the country`s longest, built at a cost of Rs 1,691 crore.
Singh asked one of the girl students seated next to him whether she had travelled by train earlier, to which she replied in the negative.
UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi was seated a couple of rows behind the Prime Minister and was seen chatting with the students.
The train travel by Singh and Gandhi was being planned for almost a week and was kept under the wraps for security reasons.
Singh and Gandhi boarded the train after the flagging off ceremony at Banihal this afternoon. Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge were also in the train.
The train will start regular operations from Banihal to Baramulla from tomorrow making five trips daily beginning at 7.10 AM from Banihal and 7.35 AM from Baramulla.