The railways has suggested that strategically important 465-km railway line proposed between Himachal Pradesh's Bilaspur and Jammu and Kashmir's Leh along the Indo-China border be declared a "national project", a Northern Railway (NR) official said on Wednesday.
Addressing a press conference here, NR General Manager Vishesh Chaubey said: "The first phase of the survey for the 465-km line project, which will be one of the world's highest railway lines, has been completed and initial estimates put the cost of track construction at Rs 83,360 crore."
He said the project would be one of the most difficult ones that the railways has ever undertaken.
Chaubey said: "We have suggested that the project be declared a national project, as once completed it will help the armed forces reach the Leh region as well as boost tourism in the area."
In terms of funding, once the project is declared a national project, most of the funds would come from the Central government.
According to him, the Northern Railway also suggested to start construction of a 51-km stretch between Upshi in Himachal Pradesh and Phe in Leh immediately.
The first survey for the proposed railway line has been completed and the final location survey is expected to be completed in 30 months after which a detailed project report would be presented.
According to officials, the new line project would have a highest road point of 5,360 meters above the sea level.
China has built the Qinghai-Tibet railway line in Tibet at a height of around 2,000 metres above the sea level.
He said that the new line project will include 74 tunnels, 30 stations, 124 major bridges and 396 minor bridges according to the first phase of the survey.