Bringing back tourists to the Kashmir Valley has become a matter of priority for both the Central and State administration. Aiding that process is a decision by the Northern Railways to introduce an all-weather air-conditioned 40-seat train with Vistadome coaches in the Valley.
What are some of the features of Vistadome coaches? They possess a glass roof with electrically controlled opalescence, making it transparent. This will give passengers a panoramic view of their journey. For a better view, passengers can even make their way to special observation lounges. These coaches also have rotatable-pushback seats. Other features include GPS-based information system, LED lights and automatic sliding compartment doors etc.
With a trial run conducted from Nowgam in Srinagar to Sadura in the Anantnag district, tourists can now hope to witness some of the spectacular sights on offer throughout the year. Only two other train routes in India have Vistadome coaches—the Mumbai-Goa line and the Visakhapatnam-Araku Valley line. At this juncture, officials in the Northern Railways are working out the commercial and operational modalities of starting this 40-seat train.
“We will decide whether the train will ply on the 112-km stretch from Banihal to Baramulla. It is also to be decided whether the train will operate once or multiple times on a given day,” said Hari Mohan, Northern Railway’s chief area manager in Srinagar, to The Sunday Standard.
Taking cognisance of the civil unrest in the Valley, train officials asked youngsters not to pelt stones on the train once it is operational. “The train is a public property and they should safeguard it. If a single glass pane is damaged, we will have to stop its operation till the damaged pane is replaced,” said Mohan. “We want to boost the Valley’s tourism through this train and we need support from the people. Tourists cannot be attracted without local support.”
Since July 2016, the Valley has been on the boil following the death of Burhan Wani, a local militant. This civil unrest has crippled the local economy with locals unable to attract tourists.