Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla rail link project will bring Kashmir closer to the rest of the country

To expand railway connectivity and bring Kashmir closer to the rest of the country, the central government is working hard for timely completion of this one of a kind national project. The Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Railway Link (USBRL) project is progressing “very well” and work is in “top gear” on all fronts, A senior railway official said. He said that 90 percent of the sanctioned amount of the project, Rs 37,012.26 crore, has been utilized so far.

Chenab bridge work has been completed, track linking and some ancillary works are in progress.

The official said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnav are personally monitoring this prestigious national project.

According to S P Mahi, Chief Administrative Officer, USBRL: “The latest approved cost of the USBRL project is Rs 37,012.26 crore. The cumulative booking of expenditure till February 23 is Rs 3,34,21 crore which is 90.29 per cent of the total sanctioned cost.

The USBRL project comprises 38 tunnels (combined length of 119 km), the longest tunnel (T-49) having a length of 12.77 km was completed on February 15 last year.

Out of the total 272 km USBRL project, 118 km Qazigund-Baramulla section under Phase I was commissioned in October 2009, followed by work on 18 km Banihal-Qazigund in June 2013 and 25 km Udhampur-Katra in July 2014. The 111 km long Katra-Banihal section is underway.

Declared as a ‘National Project’

The 272 km long Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla railway link was declared as a “National Project” in 2002 indicating the importance of the project in providing seamless and hassle-free connectivity to Kashmir.

The Ministry of Railways gave its approval for the construction of a railway line from Udhampur to Baramulla via Srinagar in phases: 25 km from Udhampur to Katra in 1994, 118 km from Qazigund to Baramulla and 129 km from Katra to Qazigund in 1999.

‘Working in Top Gear’

Mahi said that work is going on fast on all fronts. He said that the Katra-Banihal section mainly involved digging of 163.82 km of tunnels. Presently 163.08 km of tunnel mining – 97.02 km (24 nos) out of 97.42 km (27 nos) of main tunnel and 66.06 km (8 nos) out of 66.4 km (8 nos) have been completed. Tunnel lining of 149.23 km – 93.17 km (20 nos) and 56.06 km (2 nos) out of 66.4 km (8 nos) of main tunnel has been completed.

Chenab bridge: work completed

The official said that so far 22 major bridges and 11 minor bridges have been completed and the work is in full swing. As per the report, the bridges include the iconic Chenab Bridge (overall length 1315 metres, arch span of 467 meters and height of 359 meters above the river bed), which is the highest railway bridge in the world. Chenab bridge work has been completed, track linking and some ancillary works are in progress.

According to him, the construction work of the first cable stayed bridge of Indian Railways on Anji Khad is in full swing. The launch of the super structure of Anji Bridge is in an advanced stage of progress and 39 out of 47 segments have been launched.

Katra-Banihal project is progressing fast

As per reports, work on Katra-Banihal is in progress as all tenders which include integrated sub-station, power supply system, tunnel ventilation, tunnel lighting, fire fighting and SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) have been awarded.

The official said that the electrification work for the Katra-Banihal section has been approved. The electrification work of Banihal-Baramulla section was completed in September last year.

Significantly, the access road of about 205 kilometers has also been completed.