Banihal: Minister of State for Railways Smt. Darshana Vikram Jardosh on a visit to Kashmir Valley reviewed the progress of work on the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Link National Project (USBRL). The Minister arrived at Banihal railway station by a train from Srinagar accompanied by Additional General Manager, Northern Railway Sh. Navin Gulati, Divisional Railway Manager, Firozpur, Dr. Seema Sharma, Chief Engineer USBRL Sh. B.B.S. Tomar, Executive Director IRCON Sh. A. K. Goyal and other senior officers of Northern Railway and IRCON. Enroute the minister travelled in the cabin of the train engine. She was briefed about the driving process by the crew. She took keen interest in the procedure of the train running.
The Minister went around the scenic Banihal station and inspected the control room of Tunnel T-80. With a length of 11.2 Km, at present it is the longest Railway tunnel in India. It runs across the mighty Pir Panjal Himalayan range connecting the towns of Banihal and Quazigund in J&K. The monitoring of the tunnel is done for efficient train running within the structure. She then visited the IRCON Campus in Banihal where she was briefed about the progress of work on the final leg (Katra-Banihal) of the project. She visited the site of tunnel T-144 and oversaw the cut and cover procedure ongoing there.
MoSR visited the location of the newly constructed Navyug Road Tunnel across Pir Panjal, close to Banihal and interacted with the officials of National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) officials present there. She later left for Srinagar by the train from Banihal railway station. Enroute at Qazigund station and on arriving at Srinagar railway station, the Minister participated in the Swachchhta Awareness programmes. These are a part of the fortnight long cleanliness drive being carried out by the Railways in commemoration of Gandhi Jayanti.
Addressing the press and media at the Srinagar station the Minister expressed satisfaction on the progress of the USBRL project. She said that, the aspirations of the people of Jammu & Kashmir to get a good Railway transportation system to remain connected to the rest of the country all year round has to be fulfilled. She called upon the engineers working on the project to expedite the remaining portion on mission mode.
The USBRL is a national project undertaken by the Indian Railways for construction of a broad-gauge railway line through the Himalayas with the aim of connecting the Kashmir region with the rest of the country. The all-weather, comfortable, convenient and cost-effective mass transportation system will be the catalyst for the overall development of the northernmost alpine region of the country.
Construction of the first three phases of the project has been completed and the line is in operational use for running of trains between Baramulla-Banihal in Kashmir valley and Jammu-Udhampur-Katra in Jammu region. Work on the intervening 111 Km section Katra-Banihal, the most arduous and treacherous portion due to its geology and extensive riverine system replete with deep gorges is ongoing. There are several iconic bridges and tunnels coming up in this section. Most of the rail track is slated to be in tunnels or bridges in this section. In the absence of an effective surface transport system in this in-hospitable region, Railways had to first lay access roads to the tune of 205 Km to reach the construction sites.
Three agencies; IRCON, KRCL and Northern Railway with extensive experience in construction of rail lines are involved in this project. Many international agencies and premier Indian institutes like IIT Roorkee, IIT Delhi, DRDO and Geological Survey of India are providing expertise in planning and implementation. Several sets of tunneling machineries and cranes have also been imported.
Presently, the Arch work of the Chenab Bridge, world’s tallest railway bridge is complete, while the work on the Anji bridge, an asymmetric cable-stayed bridge, is on in full swing. 88.5 Km of the total 97.64 Km main tunneling and 60 Km out of 66.5 Km escape tunnel works have been completed. 13 major and 11 minor bridges have been completed.