THE FIRST section of India's rail link to Kashmir was officially inaugurated on April 13, when Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh flagged off the first Uttar Sampark Kranti Express from Delhi.

The 54·8 km broad gauge line from Jammu Tawi to Udhampur has cost Rs5·2bn to build over the past five years, and includes a 77m high bridge over a gorge through the Himalaya foothills.

IR expects to complete the remaining 344 km of its route through the Kashmir valley from Udhampur to Quazigund, Srinagar and Baramullah in 2007.

  • Pakistan Railways began work on April 12 to restore its share of the 10 km cross-border rail link between Khokhrapa and the Indian town of Munaba (RG 1.05 p8), and hopes to restore cross-border rail services by the end of this year. The national planning commission has approved PR's proposal to convert the 128 km metre-gauge Khokrapa - Mipur Khas line to broad gauge over the next two years at a cost of Rs1·8bn, and a first consignment of 8000 broad-gauge sleepers was delivered to Mipur Khas by special train on April 15.