Udhampur-Banihal rail link near completion
Pirpanjal tunnel (11.215 kms), the longest rail tunnel as of date, is also part of the USBRL project and has already been commissioned. [File]Mir Imran for Greater Kashmir

Udhampur-Banihal rail link near completion

80% works done

Srinagar: The train connectivity to Kashmir is nearing completion as 80 percent work on the last phase of Udhampur-Banihal rail link has been completed.

Official document accessed by Greater Kashmir reveal that out of 272 kms length from Udhampur to Baramulla, 161 kms have been completed. It includes Qazigund to Baramulla section 118 kms which was commissioned in phases from 2008 to 2009, Qazigund to Banihal section 18 km made in June 2013 and Udhampur to Katra section 25 km completed in July 2014.

“Present status, the balance length of 111 km from Katra to Banihal is in progress. The overall progress of Katra to Banihal section is 80 percent approx,” reads an official document.

“This section predominantly involves tunneling 97 km in addition to construction of mega bridges on Chenab River and Anji Khad, with a total 37 number of bridges. At present 85.6 km out of 97 km tunneling and 23 bridges out of 37 have been completed. In addition, a 205 Km access road has been constructed,” it reads.

Construction of wide network of access roads has provided connectivity to far flung and inaccessible remote areas, leading to socio economic development, direct and indirect employment. “Udhampur to Baramulla section i.e. USBRL Project 272 km is being executed as a National project," the document reads.

The USBRL project involves 38 Tunnels, with a combined length of 119 Kms. The longest Tunnel length is 2015 Kms. There are 927 Bridges, with a combined length of 13 Kms. These bridges include the iconic Chenab Bridge, Overall length 1315 m, Arch span of 467 m and height of 359 m above river bed, which will be the highest railway bridge in the world.

Indian railways first cable-stayed bridge, with an overall length of 450 m is also being constructed on Anji Khad.

As per the report, the date of approval of the project was March 1995 and estimated cost was Rs 2500 crore. The revised cost now is Rs 27949 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 as April 2023.

Though Jammu division is connected with the rail network, the missing link between Udhampur to Banihal section has kept Kashmir disconnected from the railway network spanning across India. As a result, Kashmir is heavily dependent on the treacherous Srinagar Jammu Highway as it remains a lone surface link during winter months.

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