India's largest railway tunnel put to day-lighting test14 October 2011
The Daily Excelsior
Srinagar: In a major breakthrough in the railway sector of the country, India's longest railway tunnel constructed in the rugged Pir Panchal Mountains was put to day-lighting test today. The tunnel considered as an engineering marvel and popularly known as Pir Panjal Railway Tunnel connects Qazigund in Kashmir division and Banihal in Jammu division on either sides of Jawahar tunnel on Srinagar-Jammu national highway. The tunnel would reduce the distance between Qazigund and Banihal to 11 kilometres. The 10.96 kilometres long tunnel is India's longest and Asia's second longest railway tunnel. The day-lighting function was witnessed by A P Mishra, Member-Railway Board; Mohan Tiwari, Managing Director IRCON, B D Garg, CAO Northern Railways; H Khanna, Director (Works) IRCON and Achal Jain, Chief Engineer Northern Railways. While speaking on the occasion, Member Railways Board A P Mishra said 'We achieved a major breakthrough today with the day-lighting of the Pir Panjal tunnel. The task of constructing the tunnel was entrusted to Hindustan Construction Company (HCC). The HCC has lived up to its reputation of leading construction and engineering company of the country by commissioning the tunnel well within the target period.' Mishra said that HCC was awarded the contract of the tunnel in August 2005 at a contract value of ' 391 crores. 'The engineering work on the tunnel included construction of a tunnel having a finished width of 8.405 meters and height of 7.393 meters with a provision of three metres wide concrete road inside the tunnel throughout the length for maintenance and emergency relief purpose, and also construction of 772 meters long access tunnel section,' said Mishra. He said that due to the changing geological strata of the young Himalayan rock, New Australian Tunneling Methodology (NATM) was adopted for the construction. He said that during survey, eight different types of geological strata were found in the entire length of the tunnel. 'To meet the challenge of the different geological requirement three excavation techniques were adopted in the construction of this tunnel. These were excavation by tunnel excavator, road header and by drill and blast method. Additionally, the project was extremely challenging as this area falls under heavy snowfall region of Jammu and Kashmir, where temperatures go down to -10°C during the winter,' said Mishra. He said that the tunnel passes 440 metres below the existing Jawahar Road Tunnel adding that it is for the first time that road headers have been adopted in the country. He said that geotechnical instruments have been used for routine monitoring, assessing the stress redistribution and stabilization before final lining. 'HCC has immense tunneling experience in the toughest terrains, ranging from geologically complex Himalayas to the soft soil of West Bengal. The total length of tunneling work executed by HCC is over 170 kilometers which covers all types of projects ranging from Hydro Power, Transportation, Metro Rail, Water Supply, Irrigation, and Sewerage. HCC implements modern and efficient tunneling technology that includes Tunnel Boring Machines, NATM, Pneumatic shields and Gasket segments,' said Mishra. He said that IRCON International Ltd, an autonomous constructing agency for Indian Railway, was given the task to construct part of Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla rail link project from Dharam to Baramulla section. He said the railway line from Qazigund to Baramulla (119 km) was already completed by IRCON and it is operational to public since October 2009. 'In order to accelerate the balance work, the total length between Dharam to Qazigund section was divided into six Zones and the contract for the Zone IV and V was awarded to HCC.' It would be in place to mention that HCC group is a global engineering and construction player and a pioneer in urban infrastructure development. HCC has executed a majority of India's landmark infrastructure projects, having constructed over 25% of India's hydro-power and over 50% of India's nuclear power generation capacities, 2,300 km of roads and expressways, and over 170 km of complex tunneling in addition to hundreds of bridges, dams, and barrages. Recent projects include the Bandra Worli Sea Link and India's largest nuclear power plant at Kudankulam. HCC's infrastructure development subsidiary has ' 5,500 crores of concession assets under management. The group is also developing Lavasa city, India's largest urban development across 25,000 acres, approximately 1-4th the size of Mumbai.