Indian Railways on a herculean task to connect Kashmir with rest of world; work on 161 out of 272 kms completed

USBRL Project—Part-1

Project aimed at giving alternate, reliable transportation; involves 38 tunnels, 927 bridges including Iconic Chenab Bridge; India’s first cable bridge, Difficult to give time span/deadline given geological challenges, Say Officials

The Indian railways is on a herculean mission to connect Kashmir with the rest of the world through a comprehensive rail link with a sole aim to provide an alternate and reliable transportation system to Jammu and Kashmir.

A senior official of Indian railways, while speaking to news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO), exclusively, on the condition of anonymity, said that with a aim to provide an alternate and a reliable transportation system to Jammu & Kashmir, Government of India planned a 272 Km long Railway Line from Udhampur to Baramulla joining the Kashmir valley with the Indian Railways network under Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail link Project (USBRL).

“In view of the importance of USBRL project in providing seamless and hassle-free connectivity, the 272 Km. long Railway Line Project was declared as a National Project in 2002. This project has been the most challenging works undertaken post-independence by Indian Railways,” he said.

The project entails 38 Tunnels comprising combined length of 119Kms and in addition to 67 Km of Escape tunnels are also being constructed.

“The longest Transportation Tunnel of the country (T-49), length 12.77 Km has been made through on 15.02.2022. There are 927 Bridges (combined length of 13 Km). These bridges include the iconic Chenab Bridge (Overall length 1315 m, Arch span of 467 m and height of 359 m above river bed) which will be the highest railway bridge in the world,” the official said, adding that the Indian railway’s first cable stayed bridge is also being constructed on Anji Khad.

He said that many station yards in Katra- Banihal sections are located in tunnels or on bridges or both. “Entire stretch of 111 km of Katra- Bniahal section is Ballast Less Track (BLT),” the officials said, adding that for the first time over Indian Railway, Rigid Overhead Conductor System (ROCs) shall be provided in the tunnels between Katra- Banihal to supply traction power.

Work Completed/ Under Progress:

The official said that out of total length of 272 kms, work has been completed in 161 km, status of work has been sub-divided into the four legs: “The Leg-1: Udhampur – Katra which is 25 Km long has been opened to traffic by Hon’ble Prime Minister on 4th July 2014. Leg-2: Katra-Banihal (111 KM)- Work is in progress. Leg-3: Banihal-Quazigund (18 Km)- The section from Quazigund to Banihal (18 Km) involving Pir-Panjal Tunnel, the longest transportation tunnel in India of total 11.215 Km length has also been opened to the Public by the Hon’ble Prime Minister on 26.06.2013,” the official said.

He said that leg-4 comprises Quazigund-Baramulla (118 Km). “The work has also been completed and section has been opened to public in three phases. “The section from Anantnag to Mazhom (68 KM) was opened to the public by the Hon’ble Prime Minister on 11.10.08. The section from Mazhom to Baramulla (32 KM) was inaugurated and dedicated to the nation on 14.02.09. The section from Quazigund to Anantnag (18 km) was opened to the public by the Hon’ble Prime Minister on 28.10.09,” the official said.

Work in Progress: “Intervening stretch of Katra – Banihal section (111 km) is in progress. This is, perhaps, the most difficult new railway line project undertaken in Indian subcontinent. This section predominantly involves tunnelling of 164 Kms (97.57 km Main Tunnel + 66.4 Km of Escape Tunnel) and construction of total 37 nos. of Bridges, which includes Mega Bridges on Chenab River, Anji Khad and Br 39 and Br 43,” the official said, adding that “At present 162.5 Km (99%) of tunnel mining (i.e., 96.8 km of Main Tunnel and 65.8 km of Escape Tunnel) and 31 bridges out of 37 have been completed. Balance work of tunnel mining & lining and Bridges are in advance stage of completion. The work of Ballastless track is also in progress and 23.8 Km of Ballastless track has been laid. Also, the parallel work of E&M and S&T are in progress. Work is expeditiously going on, there are difficulties posed by extreme level of geology in one of the tunnel and work is being done cautiously. It is difficult to give a time span in the prevailing geological situation. All efforts are being made to make it through with the help of the best brains in the field.”—(KNo)

(Note: KNO will come up with series of stories on the USBRL project)

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