TRAIN TO KASHMIR | Status: Arrival by 2023 end

‘90% work on USBRL project completed’
The goal of the initiative is to link Kashmir with rest of the country.[Representational Picture]
The goal of the initiative is to link Kashmir with rest of the country.[Representational Picture]Mubashir Khan/GK File

Srinagar: The train is finally chugging towards Kashmir, with 90 percent of the construction on the railway link connecting Kashmir to the rest of the country complete.

The Indian Railways announced that the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Link (USBRL), a project to build a broad-gauge railway route through the Himalayas, is now 90 percent complete.

The goal of the initiative is to link Kashmir with rest of the nation.

“Connecting Kashmir to Kanniyakumari: Almost There!” said an official tweet by the Ministry of Railways.

Updating about the work progress, the tweet mentioned that the 162.6 km of total 163.88 km of tunnel mining under the Katra-Banihal Section is complete while 31.3 km of total 117.7 km of track laying has been accomplished.

Moreover, the construction of 21 major bridges of a total of 26 and 11 minor bridges is over.

In March 2002, the project was designated as one of national importance. Additionally, it is the largest mountain railway undertaking since independence. It goes through the young Himalayas, tectonic thrusts, and faults on its way from Jammu to Baramulla.

Three portions of the train line, each measuring 25 km from Udhampur to Katra, 18 km from Banihal to Qazigund, and 118 km from Qazigund to Baramulla, have been constructed.

Between Jammu-Udhampur-Katra in the Jammu region and Baramulla-Banihal in Kashmir, trains run regularly.

According to a report from the central government, the rail connection to Kashmir has been delayed for more than 20 years and has witnessed cost escalation by Rs 25,449 crore during 241 months.

As per the report, the date of approval of the project was March 1995 with an estimated cost of Rs 2500 crore.

The revised cost now is Rs 27,949 crore implying a cost overrun of Rs 25,449 crore and a time overrun of 241 months.

Now as per the report, the anticipated date of commissioning has been scheduled by end of 2023.

A senior official said that the Udhampur-Baramulla-Srinagar Rail (UBSR) Link in Jammu and Kashmir has essentially finished construction on the rail tunnel.

After 150 years of the advent of the railway system in the subcontinent, a train ran for the first time in Kashmir in 2008.

The train from Banihal to Baramulla is currently in service.

Banihal, Halar Shahabad, Qazigund, Sidhura, Anantnag, Bijbahara, Panzgam, Awantipora, Kakapura, Pampore, Srinagar, Budgam, Mazhama, Patan, Humire, Sopore, and Baramulla are 17 stations along the 135 km railway line.

The four sections of this rail project, which is being built at a cost of Rs 27,949 crore are Udhampur-Katra, Katra-Banihal, Banihal-Qazigund, and Qazigund-Baramulla.

In the 1990s, the then Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao announced the project of laying a rail line to Kashmir while in 2002, Atal Bihari Vajpayee termed it a “national project”.

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