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Katra-Banihal Railway: 93 Of 114 Kms Inside Tunnels

by Yawar Hussain

SRINAGAR: The Srinagar-Jammu railway line would have 93 kilometres of tunnels across the Himalayas with the project slated to be completed in 2023.

A tunnel along Baramulla Jammu railway line. KL Image by Bilal Bahadur

Sources in the Northern Railways said that among the 110 kilometres, under construction from Katra in Udhampur to Banihal in Ramban, 93 kilometres will comprise of tunnels.

They said many of the light systems to control the trains would also be inside the tunnels while a couple of railway stations have also been built inside the tunnels.

The stations whose route is being built around these series of tunnels include  Reasi, Salal-A, Salal-B, Dugga, Bhasin Dadhar, Sangaldal, Sumbar and Arpinchala.

The Northern Railways sources reveal that the decision to build the tunnels instead of cutting through the mountains was taken in the light of making service an all-weather affair.

Labourers working inside a railway tunnel. KL Image by Bilal Bahadur

“The engineers opined that the tunnels were also better for the project because the curvature radius on which a train would turn couldn’t be achieved if the track was built around a mountain,” a high ranking official in the Northern Railway said.

“We couldn’t cut through these lofty mountains. Then we decided to dig through,” the official said.

The multiple tunnel system doesn’t just include the tubes on which the trains would run but also the escape tubes built for emergency purposes.

A tunnel along the Baramulla – Jammu railway line. KL Image by Bilal Bahadur

The railway line is being built on the other side of the Chenab river opposite the national highway-44 which connects the Kashmir valley with the rest of the world.

The total cost of the project is Rs 28000 crore. The total length of tunnels from Jammu to Baramulla is 174 kilometres including the 93 kilometres on the Jatra-Banihal stretch.

A total of 124 kilometres out of 174 kilometres have been built till date.

Along with tunnels, the railway line requires the construction of 62 important and major bridges and minor bridges, besides construction of 35 tunnels, totalling a length of 103 km bringing the percentage of the total length of the alignment of tunnels to approximately 80 per cent.

Sources in the Northern Railway reveal that the project deadline of December 2022 is likely to be pushed back to 2023 as the work on the highest railway bridge Chenab also requires a lot of work for commissioning.

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