The residents of Amritsar have urged D V Sadanand Gowda, Railway Minister, to extend the Amritsar-Chandigarh superfast train till Kalka with a view to boosting trade and tourism. They averred that the train covered important destinations as Beas, Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Mohali, but failed to cover Kalka, which is just 30 kilometers from Chandigarh.
In a joint letter to the Railway Minister PS Bhatti, President, Missionaries Khudai Khidmatgaran, Gurbhej Singh, General Secretary, Mission Aagaaz, Dr AL Adhlakha, an ENT surgeon, and Dr Seema Sharma, a gynecologist said that Kalka station is very strategically located as it provides rail connectivity to Himachal Pradesh and is the gateway to Shimla, the state capital of Himachal Pradesh.
They added that other important trains as Shatabdi, Himalayan Queen and others have operations till Kalka. "Prior to 1984, a train used to ply between Amritsar and Kalka, which was discontinued later due to militancy," said PS Bhatti.
He added that Kalka, and parts of Himachal Pradesh having proximity to it, were home to Sikh families, who often travelled to Amritsar to pay obeisance at Golden Temple. "Traders from Amritsar, Jalandhar and Ludhiana too travel to Himachal Pradesh on account of business. "If extended till Kalka, the Amritsar-Chandigarh superfast train shall prove to be beneficial for them as well," he maintained.
Gurbhej Singh said that the solicited extension would also benefit people, who earned their livelihood from the railways. "Tea stall owners, coolies, taxi operators, rickshaw and auto rickshaw pullers all stand to benefit from this proposal," he said. He further said that it would also ease up pressure of vehicular traffic on the roads
Terming the exclusion of Kalka from the route of the Amritsar-Chandigarh train as a step-motherly treatment towards the residents of Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, Dr AL Adhlakha, and Dr Seema Sharma demanded that directions should be issued to the Indian Railways (Northern Zone) to extend the operations of the train tilll Kalka.