Banihal railway station, a part of Kashmir Railway, is situated in notified area of Banihal in Ramban district, Jammu and Kashmir. It was commissioned on 26 June 2013 and passenger trains run from Banihal to Qazigund. The station was inaugurated by former prime minister Manmohan Singh and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi on the same day at 2.22 pm. They enjoyed the 12-minute ride in train through Pir panjal tunnel up to Qazigund with 100 students, mostly girls, of the Banihal Higher Secondary School, and made the 17.8-km ride back to Banihal, passing through the tunnel again, the second longest in Asia. Those who accompanied them were Governor N.N. Vohra, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge and Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad.
The railway network in Kashmir from Banihal to Baramulla is now 137 km. Five trains run daily from Banihal to Baramulla. Until the 148 km Katra-Banihal section of Kashmir railway gets constructed in another five years in 2018, people can travel from Jammu Tawi or Udhampur to Banihal by road and take the train from Banihal to Srinagar.
The station has been built as part of the Kashmir Railway megaproject, intending to link the Kashmir Valley with Jammu Tawi and the rest of the Indian railway network.
Like all the other stations in this megaproject, this station also features Kashmiri wood architecture, with an intended ambience of a royal court which is designed to complement the local surroundings to the station. Station signage is predominantly in Urdu, English and Hindi.
Banihal is a town and a notified area committee in Ramban district in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. “Banihal” means blizzard in Kashmiri language.In some older texts it has also been referred to as ‘Devgol’ (The abode of mystical giants). It has an average elevation of 1,666 m (5,466 ft).It is a rural and a hilly area with Kamirwah being one of the most spectacular hills. It is located about 35 km (22 mi) away from Qazigund of Anantnag district on NH 1A highway. However, the distance between Banihal and Qazigund is only 18 km by train on the new railway line which is much shorter than the road.Population of Banihal is mostly Muslim (over 95%).The most common language spoken in the region is Kashmiri, Urdu and English being .
“Banihal” means blizzard in Kashmiri language.Another view regarding the origin of the name of the place is that the word ‘Banihal’ has actually been derived from two kashmiri words viz ‘ bah ‘ meaning twelve and ‘ nallhe ‘ meaning a rivulet.Twele rivulets signifying the various brooks flowing through the area and eventually joining the small local river called Nalla bischlari.There is a yet another school of thought amongst the locals and some scholars in which the word banihal is thought of as having a Persian origin.”Nihal” in Persian means greenery and hence banihal would imply ‘Eternally green’.
Banihal railway station is situated at 1,702 m (5,584 ft) above mean sea level. It was commissioned on 26 June 2013 and passenger trains run from Banihal to Qazigund. The railway network in Kashmir from Banihal to Baramulla is now 137 km. Five trains run daily from Banihal to Baramulla. Until the 148 km Katra-Banihal section of Kashmir railway gets constructed, expected to be completed by 2018, people can travel from Jammu Tawi or Udhampur to Banihal by road and take the train from Banihal to Srinagar.
A new 11.215 km (7 mile) long Banihal-Qazigund tunnel (also known as Pir Panjal railway tunnel) for the Kashmir Railway line connecting Bichleri Valley of Banihal with Qazigund area of Kashmir Valley has been constructed. The tunnel is 8.40 m wide with a height of 7.39 m. There is a three metre wide road along the length of the tunnel for the maintenance of railway tracks and emergency relief. The boring was completed in October 2011, its lining and laying of rail tracks was completed in the next one year and trial run commenced at the end of 2012. Commercial runs started from 27 June 2013 reducing the distance between Quazigund and Banihal by 17 km (from 35 km by road to 17.5 km by train).