Jammu–Sialkot line

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Jammu–Sialkot line
JammuSialkotFirstTrain.png
The first train to Jammu from Sialkot, 1890
courtesy of searchkashmir.org
Overview
TypeRegional rail
StatusDiscontinued
LocaleJammu and Kashmir, Punjab
TerminiJammu Bikram Chowk
Sialkot Junction
Operation
Opened1890
Closed1947
Operator(s)North Western Railway
Technical
Track length43 km (27 mi)
Number of tracks1
Track gauge1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in) Broad gauge

The Jammu–Sialkot line was a 43 km (27 mi) broad gauge[1][2][3] branch of the North Western State Railway from Wazirabad Junction, Punjab, to Jammu through Sialkot Junction. The section from Sialkot to Jammu (Tawi) was 27 miles (43 km), partly lying in Punjab and partly in Jammu and Kashmir[4] [5] It was built in 1890, and was the first railway line in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.[6] It ran till 18 September 1947, when the newly independent Pakistan, which operated the railway, suspended the train service.[7] The railway line fell into disrepair.[8] A new line between Pathankot and Jammu was built by Indian Railways in 1972.[9]

Construction[edit]

North Wester Railway map 1908

The Jammu–Sialkot line was constructed as an extension of the Wazirabad–Sialkot line built in 1883–1884, at the initiative of the Maharaja's government.[10] Maharaja Ranbir Singh (r. 1830–1885) wrote to the Governor General of India with a proposal offering to fund its construction, which was agreed. He was soon succeeded by Maharaja Pratap Singh, who continued the negotiations culminating in an agreement. The agreement stipulated that the railway would be operated by the North Western Railway, that the Maharaja would receive one per cent interest on the investment and that the earnings in excess of the one per cent would be shared equally between the Northwestern Railway and the Maharaja's government.[11] The Maharaja's investment was close to Rs. 1 million[12] (1.3 million according to other accounts[13]).

The construction was carried out between 1888–1890. It is reported that the section of the railway in Punjab was laid with 60 lbs. second-hand wrought iron rails but the Jammu and Kashmir section was laid with 75 lbs. new steel rails.[14]

Stations[edit]

In the 1935 timetable, the section's timetable shows 4 pairs of passenger trains running between Sialkot and Jammu (Tawi). Two pairs ran from Wazirabad and two pairs from Sialkot. The journey time between Sialkot and Jammu (Tawi) averaged about 90 minutes. The intermediate stations listed in the timetable are (from west to east) Sialkot Cantonment, Suchetgarh, Ranbir Singh Pora, Miran Saheb and Jammu Cantonment.[1] The Jammu and Kashmir state border crossed the line 0.26 miles (0.42 km) east of Suchetgarh station.[15]. Thus the first station on the state side was Ranbir Singh Pora.

Demise[edit]

After the partition of India on 15 August 1947, the new Dominion of Pakistan inherted the North Western Railway. The government of Maharaja Hari Singh made a standstill agreement with Pakistan for continuance of all the pre-existing arrangements. However, the railway service was suspended by Pakistan on or about 18 September 1947.[7][16] It was considered a violation of the standstill agreement by the state.[17] It also created hardships for the Jammu Muslims who wanted to find safety in Sialkot in the face of increasing communal tension in Jammu.[16] With the state's accession to India and the ensuring Kashmir war between the two Dominions, the suspension became permanent. The train service was never resumed.

The railway line fell into disrepair afterwards.[8] The station buildings such as of Ranbir Singh Pora and others are lying abandoned. In 2000, the old Jammu (Tawi) railway station was demolished to make way for an art centre.[18]

A new railway line between Pathankot in Indian Punjab and Jammu was built by the Indian Railways. The Pathankot–Madhopur section was built by 1955, the Madhopur–Kathua section by 1965 and the Kathua–Jammu section by 1972.[9] Trains run from Jammu to Kanya Kumari at the southern end of Indian peninsula.

Potential revival[edit]

It has been suggested that the route be reopened for trade between India and Pakistan. In July 2001, the Agra summit was convened to resolve long-standing issues between Pakistan and India.[19] Unfortunately, the summit failed to produce any tangible outcome.[20] A detailed survey in December 2013 by Pakistan Railways showed that the line is unusable and would require billions of rupees to repair.[21] No interest in the line has been expressed by archaeological authorities or the Northern Railway division of India.[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Newman's Indian Bradshaw, February 1935, Newman and Co Ltd, Calcutta, 1935, p.138
  2. ^ History of Indian Railways, corrected up to 31 Mar 1933, Government of India Press, 1934, pp 151, 159
  3. ^ "Jammu-Sialkot handshake", Daily Excelsior, 11 November 2012, archived from the original on 7 April 2014
  4. ^ History of Indian Railways, corrected up to 31 Mar 1933, Government of India Press, 1934, pp 151, 159
  5. ^ SIALKOTE, 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica
  6. ^ Jammu TownImperial Gazetteer of India, vol. 14, p. 49.
  7. ^ a b Deora, Man Singh; Grover, Rajinder (1991), Documents on Kashmir Problem: Basic documents, Discovery Publishing House, p. 85, ISBN 978-81-7141-155-9
  8. ^ a b c Akshay Azad, Historic Jammu-Sialkot rail line in oblivion, Greater Kashmir, 4 June 2012
  9. ^ a b Janaki, Vengalil A. (1977), Some aspects of the political geography of India, Dept. of Geography, Faculty of Science, M.S. University of Baroda, p. 149
  10. ^ Ghosh, Railways in India (2002), p. 109.
  11. ^ Ghosh, Railways in India (2002), pp. 169–170.
  12. ^ Kapur, Social and economic history of Jammu and Kashmir (1992), p. 323: "The State Government spent about Re. 9,60,000 on the construction of its portion of the line. When it was opened to traffic on 13th March, 1890, for the first two days the trains were run free of charge and about 10,000 [passengers] availed of this concession."
  13. ^ Yasin, Madhvi (1984). British Paramountcy in Kashmir, 1876-1894. Atlantic Publishers & Distri. p. 80. GGKEY:62UPFCWHKP6.
  14. ^ Kapur, Social and economic history of Jammu and Kashmir (1992), p. 323.
  15. ^ Hundred Years of Pakistan Railways, M.B.K. Malik, Railway Board (Pakistan), Karachi, 1962, p.204
  16. ^ a b Chattha, Ilyas (2011), "Escape from Violence: The 1947 Partition of India and the Migration of Kashmiri Muslim Refugees", in P. Panayi; P. Virdee (eds.), Refugees and the End of Empire: Imperial Collapse and Forced Migration in the Twentieth Century, Palgrave Macmillan UK, pp. 207, 217 (note 45), ISBN 978-0-230-30570-0
  17. ^ Menon, Vengalil Krishnan Krishna (1962), Kashmir: speeches in the Security Council, Publications Division, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, p. 18: "I could read from Major General Scott's diaries further things, the way the rate of strength incrceasd and, by about 18 September, the railway service between Sialkot and Jammu [...] was suspended by the Pakistan authorities [...] without any reason and in contravention of the standstill agreement."
  18. ^ Abhinav Verma, Last remnants of Jammu-Sialkot rail link erased. 7 January 2013. GreaterKashmir.com. Archived 8 January 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ Train to Sialkot: Nostalgia dies hard for some Jammu veterans – Pradeep Dutta. Indian Express, 16 July 2001.Archived 16 January 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^ Pakistan’s Changing Outlook on Kashmir -SYED RIFAAT HUSSAIN
  21. ^ "Gate-less rail crossings pose a threat to lives in Sialkot". The Nation. 24 December 2013. Retrieved 26 September 2019.

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]