Srinagar: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday inaugurated the crucial all-weather rain link in Jammu and Kashmir, which will connect Kashmir valley with the rest of the Jammu region in the state.

Singh, who is on the final day of his two-day visit to the state, opened the nearly 11-km long tunnel to link the towns of Bannihal and Qazigund.

The Prime Minister also stressed on the timely completion of the remaining railway project in order to ensure the all-weather rain link operates in a hassle-free manner.

The rail connectivity will cut the present surface distance between the two towns by 18 km. The Prime Minister also boarded the train which carried children on its first run through the Pir Panjal mountain range tunnel - the longest rail tunnel in the country and the second longest in Asia.

He shook hands with the children on-board and sat with them as the train wound its way through the tunnel. Manmohan Singh then went back to Bannihal on the same train to address a public meeting in the town.

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad accompanied the Prime Minister during the train journey. The 10.96 km railway tunnel has been built at a cost of Rs 1,300 crore. An eight-coach train will operate on the route from June 27.


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