SRINAGAR: Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla rail link: In two years, Kashmir would be connected to mainland India through the Indian Railways network, Financial Express reported. The work for the most difficult 111 km long section of the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla rail link project will be completed by December 2022 that would provide railway connectivity to Kashmir. Northern Railway GM Ashutosh Gangal, was quoted in a PTI report saying that the work on this project is going on in full swing and it will be completed by 2022-end. The 272 km long line is being undertaken by Northern Railways at an estimated cost of Rs 28,000 crore. The first section linking Udhampur to Katra and the third section of the railway line between Banihal and Baramulla have been completed and both these sections are operational. To complete the most difficult section of Katra-Banihal, the work is going as per schedule.
Financial Express quoted Gangal, the national transporter was working to ensure that the railway project gets finished as per the scheduled time. The COVID-19 pandemic situation has affected the project’s work, he admits. The 25 km long Udhampur-Katra section, 18 km long Banihal-Qazigund section and 118 km long Qazigund-Baramulla section have been commissioned already. The 111 km long Katra-Banihal section, which is the last remaining section, is currently under execution. The GM further said that out of 174 km of tunnels on this section, 126 km has already been finished.
According to the officials of Northern Railways, perhaps, the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla rail link project is the most difficult new rail line project undertaken by the national transporter. The project has been divided into three sub-sections for execution purposes. The most difficult stretch of this rail line project, Katra-Qazigund leg, and its alignment which is 129 km long passes through the ranges of Patni and Pir Panjal, reported Financial Express reported.
This alignment requires the construction of as many as 62 crucial and major bridges and minor bridges, besides the development of 35 tunnels, totalling 103 km length bringing the percentage of the total length of the tunnels’ alignment to about 80%. According to the officials, this project is highly important to provide a reliable and alternative transportation system to J&K to join Kashmir Valley to the country’s rail network. In the year 2002, considering the importance of this project, it was declared as a national project.