Work On Udhampur-Baramulla Rail Link Slow But Steady
26 August 2007
The Daily Excelsior
New Delhi: Work on the Indian Railway's biggest mountain rail link project -the 292 km Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla link is coming up at a slow but steady pace amid impediments, complex technical problems, adverse law and order condition and delay in land acquisition. An Austrian consultancy firm has been hired to salvage the three-km-long tunnel that caved in after being dug near Udhampur for the Rs 11,000 crore project which will also have the world's longest rail tunnel and highest rail bridge. There will be 165 major bridges and 650 minor bridges in the new rail link, Shree Prakash, General Manager, Northern Railway said. Northern Railway, Konkan Railway and IRCON are involved in the construction of the link. The tallest rail bridge will be at a height of 359 meters above the Chenab river's bed level and 1.3 km in length, Prakash said. The total length of all tunnels to be constructed on the route is 120.44 km, the longest tunnel being 11 km long. Prakash said, 'Since the route is passing through the Himalayas, there are tectonic thrusts and faults along the route. This particular tunnel dug up near Udhampur developed problem of shrinking. So we have hired an Austrian expert team to do the necessary work.' Konkan railway which has been entrusted with the construction of 90 km Katra-Laole portion of the project is the most difficult stretch. Prakash Gokhale, Officer on Special Duty, Konkan Railway, said, 'The terrain comprises hilly steep slopes intersected by a number of rivers. There are geological, climatic and man-made challenges. While 80 per cent of the route is through tunnelling, 12 per cent length is on bridges. We also have to construct 216 km of approach and feeder roads, since there is no access roads to the proposed rail link site.' The railway line will strengthen the available transport facilities to Jammu and Kashmir and provide an all weather means of transport in an area which is snow bound for a significant part of the year. Gokhale said this project would boost the economy of the State.