The residents of Amritsar have requested railway minister DV Sadananda Gowda to extend the Amritsar-Chandigarh superfast train till Kalka with a view to boosting trade and tourism.
Ratan Lal Kataria, member of the Lok Sabha from Ambala in Haryana; and OP Soni, legislator from Amritsar West, have endorsed the demand and written to the railway minister to consider it. The residents averred that the train covered important destinations such as Beas, Jalandhar, Ludhiana and SAS Nagar but failed to touch Kalka, which was just 30 kilometers from Chandigarh.
In a joint letter to the minister, Missionaries Khudai Khidmatgaran president PS Bhatti, Mission Aagaaz general secretary Gurbhej Singh, ENT surgeon Dr AL Adhlakha, and gynecologist Dr Seema Sharma wrote that Kalka was a strategic station, since it provided the country with rail connectivity to Himachal Pradesh and was also the gateway to the tourist resort of Shimla.
They added that other important trains such as Shatabdi Express and Himalayan Queen operated till Kalka. "Prior to 1984, a train used to ply between Amritsar and Kalka, which was discontinued later during militancy,"said PS Bhatti.
He added that Kalka and parts of Himachal Pradesh near it were home to Sikh families, who travelled to Amritsar often to pray at the Golden Temple. "Traders from Amritsar, Jalandhar and Ludhiana, too, visit the hill state on account of business. "If extended till Kalka, the Amritsar-Chandigarh superfast train will prove to be beneficial for them as well,"he maintained.
Gurbhej Singh said that the people, including tea-stall owners, coolies, taxi operators, rickshaw pullers and auto-rickshaw operators, who earned their livelihood from the Railways also would gain from the proposal. "Besides, road traffic will ease,"he added.
Terming the exclusion of Kalka from the Amritsar-Chandigarh train route "unfair to the residents of Haryana and Himachal Pradesh", Dr AL Adhlakha and Dr Seema Sharma demanded that directions be issued to the Northern Railway to extend the train till Kalka.