Protests halt trial run of India’s longest railway tunnel

A trial run of the country’s longest railway tunnel, the Pir Panjal tunnel, which connects Kashmir Valley with the rest of the country, hit protest roadblock on Thursday. Hundreds of villagers at Hillar Shahabad in South Kashmir district of Anantang protested at the railway track saying they will not allow the train to move on the track unless a railway station is constructed in their village.

The protesting villagers refused to relent despite several appeals from the authorities. They said senior NC leader and member parliament, Mehboob Beg, and officials of the State Government and the railways had promised them station in the area.

Sharanappa Yalal, project manager of Pir Panjal Tunnel project of Hindustan Construction Company (HCC), which constructed the tunnel, said the train could not enter the tunnel due to the protest. He said the trial run on the track from Qazigund upto the tunnel went on smoothly.

He, however, said the all-weather tunnel was ready for the operation. He described the tunnel as an engineering marvel and said the tunnel was constructed after seven years of continuous work.

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