Rail service in the Kashmir Valley was restored on Thursday after remaining suspended for nearly five months following attacks on railway property during the summer unrest, official sources said.
The first train carrying a handful of passengers started on Thursday morning from Budgam district in central Kashmir and passed through Srinagar and Pulwama districts on its way to Qazigund in Anantnag district of south Kashmir, a senior railway official said.
He said the low passenger turnout was because people were not aware of the resumption of the train service.
"At the moment, the train will operate between Qazigund and Budgam stations once a day. The frequency will be increased depending on the demand for the service," the official said.
The rail service connecting south and north Kashmir was suspended on July 31 after tracks were damaged in the summer protests and several railway stations were ransacked, forcing non-Kashmiri railway staff to flee.
Many attempts to repair the damaged rail infrastructure were hampered due to stone-pelting and protests in some areas including Bagh-e-Mehtab, Sopore and Pattan over the past couple of months, the sources said.
Some tracks and railway stations were damaged during a recent protest on November 23.
The sources said fool-proof security arrangements have been made with heavy deployment of railway guards, police and paramilitary CRPF to protect the railway track and stations in the Valley.
Repair work along Budgam-Baramulla track is also in progress and is expected to be completed soon, they said.
A dry run of a train was conducted between Srinagar and Budgam and Budgam and Qazigund railway stations several times in the past one month, which went off smoothly.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had inaugurated the Valley's first rail service between Anantnag and Budgam district on October 11, 2008, much to the delight of the locals who had been awaiting such a mode of transport for decades.
The second phase of the train between Budgam to Baramulla was flagged off by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on February 14, 2009, followed by the third phase between Anantnag to Qazigund by the Prime Minister on October 28, 2009.
The service was a big hit among the people before the deterioration of the law and order situation in the Valley on June 11 following the killing of a boy.