Train to Kashmir crosses another hurdle

Northern Railways tunnel connects Dugga with Basindadhar
Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Link (USBRL) Project, set to be completed by 2023, will link Kashmir with the rail network of the country. [File]
Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Link (USBRL) Project, set to be completed by 2023, will link Kashmir with the rail network of the country. [File] Mir Imran for Greater Kashmir

Jammu: The Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Link (USBRL) has inched further towards Kashmir to connect it to the rest of the country through the train as the Northern Railways achieved a breakthrough of an important tunnel connecting Dugga with Basindadhar (Sawalakot) station.

Chief Public Relations Officer Northern Railway Deepak Kumar said that this major milestone was achieved on the USBRL National Project with the breakthrough of an important tunnel T-13 on Monday.

“The day-lighting of the single section of 8 km main tunnel was done making it completely through from its south portal. The line and level of the tunnel have been precisely achieved,” he said.

General Manager, Northern Railway Ashutosh Gangal said that the completion of the boring work of this important tunnel connecting Dugga and Basindadhar stations was one of the major achievements on the Katra-Banihal section of the USBRL project.

“With this, the Northern Railways moves a step closer to fulfilling the dream of connecting Kashmir to the rest of the country through the Indian Railways network,” he said.

CAO USBRL from the site S P Mahi said that on August 2, 2022, the escape tunnel of T-13 was made through.

“The total length of the T-13 main tunnel is 9.26 km (combined length), having a single section length of 8 km and a wider section length of 1.2 km. The total length of the tunnel made through at present is 9.1 km with a balanced length of 150 metres in the wider section targeted for completion shortly,” Mahi said.

Officials said that the wider sections of the tunnel had been designed to accommodate station yards of Dugga and Sawalakot on either portal end.

“The tunnel will be paved with the state-of-art ballast-less track keeping in view the low maintenance aspects and good riding comfort,” they said.

Two of the seven railway stations located in the Katra-Banihal section of this railway project have been connected through this tunnel on which the work started in 2018.

Of the 272-km USBRL project, the work on 161 km was commissioned in phases.

The first phase of the 118-km Qazigund-Baramulla section was commissioned in October 2009 followed by the 18-km Banihal-Qazigund in June 2013 and the 25-km Udhampur-Katra in July 2014.

The under-construction 111-km Katra-Banihal section has a total of 37 bridges and 35 tunnels.

“The breakthrough of this main tunnel single-tube leg has been achieved successfully overcoming several geological and social challenges prominent being hostile terrain, remote location, weak and fractured geology embedded with surprises in lower Himalayas and inclement weather conditions in the area,” officials said.

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