Indian Railways’ longest electrified tunnel proves to be a initiator in freight transportation

The full-scale operation of the country’s longest electrified tunnel began on June 25, 2019. Former Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu called the tunnel ‘a feather in the glory of the Indian Railways’.

The tunnel has been built at an estimated cost of Rs 437 crore. It has 44 trolley refuges and 14 cross passages.

Features of the longest electrified train tunnel –

(a) The tunnel is ‘horse shoe’ shaped.

(b) The New Australian Tunneling Method (NATM) was followed during construction.

(c) LED lighting is provided at a distance of 10 meters inside the tunnel.

(d) The height of the tunnel is 6.5 m (from rail level to roof).

(e) The height of the contact wire is kept at 5.2 m.

(f) The thickness of the lining over the entire length is 300 mm.

The tunnel will facilitate direct and viable connectivity between the South Coast and the West Coast and also augment the freight traffic of the South Central Railway.

Meanwhile, the railways is working on plans to become the world’s largest ‘green railway’ with zero carbon emissions by 2030. In the financial year 2022-23, a total of 4,100 TKM has been electrified.

Last week, during the launch of the country’s seventh Vande Bharat Express, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that 20,000 route kilometers of rail lines had been electrified in the first 70 years of independence. The newly built electrified railway line between the two stations became operational, opening up a viable rail link between Krishnapatnam Port and its hinterland for freight train services.

SCR General Manager Gajanan Mallya appreciated the efforts of railway officials and employees for completing the 6.6 km long tunnel in a record time of 43 months. He said, “It is a matter of pride for SCR to have such a remarkable structure. The newly constructed railway line is also helpful in decongesting the train traffic on Vijayawada-Gudur mainline.

The completion of this tunnel in record time helped the Railways to start freight movement on this important railway line, thereby reducing the distance between Krishnapatnam port and the hinterland by 60 kms. Obulavaripalli is 10 hours from Krishnapatnam Port. On the newly operational line, travel time is reduced to around five hours.

The New Austrian Tunneling Method (NATM) was used in the execution of the Rs 460 crore project. The length of the tunnel is 6.6 km and it is in straight alignment. The height of the tunnel (rail level to roof) is 6.5 m and the minimum height of the contact wire is kept at 5.2 m.

This longest electrified tunnel is important in the new railway line between Venkatachalam and Obulavaripalli, which is a game changer in the freight operations of the zone. The new railway line facilitates viable connectivity between the south coast and the west coast.