Passengers will have to follow all COVID-19 protocols including social distancing and the use of face masks

The Banihal-Baramulla train service resumed today after remaining suspended for 11 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This will provide an alternative, easy model of travel within the Kashmir Valley. The move is also expected to give a boost to tourism in the region.

To begin with, two trains will run daily - one from Baramulla to Banihal at 9.10 am and the other from Banihal to Baramulla at 11.25 am. More trains are likely to be introduced gradually, depending on the COVID-19 situation.

According to the Northern Railway, passengers will have to follow all COVID-19 protocols including social distancing; nobody will be allowed to board the train without a face mask. People have also been advised to avoid unnecessary travel.

"Railways to resume train operations in Kashmir valley on Banihal-Baramulla section from 22nd February, with two services operating initially. This will enhance ease of movement and provide a big boost to the tourism sector," Union Railways Minister Piyush Goyal said on Twitter.

Rail services had been suspended in March 19 last year after an increase in COVID-19 cases in the Kashmir Valley.

The Chief Area Manager of Northern Railway, Srinagar had written to the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) and the Government Railway Police (GRP) on Friday, informing them of the decision to partially restore services on the Banihal-Baramulla section.

The Banihal-Baramulla rail link covers a distance of 137 kilometres.

Last week, Goyal had tweeted that the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Link (USBRL) to connect Kashmir with the rest of the country would be completed by next year.

The length of the railway line being constructed between Udhampur and Baramulla is nearly 300 kms.