USBRL Project | Katra-Banihal section likely to be completed this year: GM Northern Rly

‘Several vital infrastructural developments poised to revolutionize railway network in Kashmir’
Drone shot of USBRL
Drone shot of USBRL Railway Ministry

Jammu: Northern Railway General Manager Shobhan Chaudhuri has stated that the work on the Katra-Banihal section of the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla-Rail Link (USBRL) project is likely to be completed in the current year.

“The work on the Katra-Banihal Section of the USBRL project to connect the Jammu region to Kashmir is ongoing, at a fast pace and is proposed to be completed in the current year. After completion of the deck of the iconic Chenab bridge, ballastless track-laying has also been accomplished. Minister of Railways Ashwini Vaishnaw visited the Chenab bridge to inspect the progress of the USBRL project in March, 2023. With installation of all 96 cables in position the aesthetic Anji bridge also inches closer to completion,” Chaudhuri has maintained.

He made these remarks while addressing the Railwaymen and delivering his Independence Day message at Baroda House, the Head Quarter Office of Northern Railway, New Delhi on Tuesday. Earlier, he hoisted the national flag and Inspected the Guard of Honour accorded by the Railway Protection Force jawans there.

On July 20 and 21 this year, Chaudhuri, along with senior officials of Railways and IRCON International during 2-day tour to J&K, had visited Banihal, Sangaldan areas of Ramban district and Katra in Reasi district to inspect the ongoing works in Banihal and Katra section of USBRL project.

Hints were dropped that the train service between railway station Banihal and railway station Khari would begin by the end of August this year.

The officials had maintained that after connecting Banihal railway station with railway station Khari, another sixteen kms out of 111 kms long Banihal-Katra railway segment would get connected by rail, as another achievement for Northern Railway in the ongoing USBRL project.

Prior to it on May 15, during his maiden presser in New Delhi after joining as GM Northern Railway in April 2023, Shobhan Chaudhuri while detailing about the status of USBRL project had stated that it would be completed in February, 2024.

“Most of the work on the project is complete except two tunnelling works of 200 m in two tunnels. The project is destined for completion in February 2024 as announced by the Minister of Railways on his visit to Chenab bridge,” Chaudhuri had said.

On March 26 this year, the Union Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw during the maiden inspection of the world's highest rail (arch) bridge (part of USBRL project), over Chenab at Bakkal-Kauri in Reasi district had said that the strategically very significant and crucial project would be completed by the end of this year (2023) or by January-February, 2024.

With regard to other major achievements of Northern Railway in J&K, GM Chaudhuri, in his Independence Day message, said, “Routes over Delhi, Lucknow, Moradabad Divisions and the 134 km long Banihal-Baramulla section in Kashmir are now 100 percent electrified. With this electrification of about 88 percent route km of Northern Railway is complete.”

He said that to translate the government's vision for 'Naye Bharat Ke Naye Stations', Northern Railway was presently carrying out major upgradation work of Ghaziabad, Delhi Cantt, Faridabad, Chandigarh, Ludhiana Jn., Lucknow Charbagh, Jalandhar Cantt, Jammu Tawi and Delhi Safdarjung stations.

“The Amrit Bharat Station Scheme was launched by the Prime Minister on August 6, 2023. He also laid the foundation stone for redevelopment of 508 stations pan India which include 71 stations in Northern Railway. The stations are set to become sustainable, clean, green with modern facilities and easy accessibility. Business centres and commercial hubs will also be developed at the stations,” Chaudhuri said.

He maintained that several vital infrastructural developments were poised to revolutionize the railway network in Kashmir valley, paving way for improved connectivity and economic growth.

The first Parcel Office in the Kashmir valley was inaugurated by the Minister of Railways in Srinagar in March, 2023. “Final Location Surveys of many new lines in UT of Jammu and Kashmir have been sanctioned,” GM Northern railway said.

He said that the Detailed Project Report of the Final Location Survey of Bilaspur-Manali-Leh New BG Line had been submitted to the Railway Board. “It will connect important towns of HP and Ladakh. The alignment is to pass through the Shivaliks, Great Himalayan and Zanskar Ranges of the Indian Himalayas and over four high passes; Rohtang La, Baralacha La, Lachung La and Tanglang La,” GM Chaudhuri said.

Maintaining that Northern Railway, the largest of all zones of IR, services the national capital and populous states and Union Territories of the North, he said that the zone witnessed several momentous events this year.

“PM's Rozgar Mela was held at New Delhi, Ambala and Jammu on April 13, 2023, in which appointment letters were given to 180 candidates at New Delhi, 209 in Ambala and 336 in Jammu. Besides the regular Mail-Express, Passenger and Local train services, 1,311 additional Summer Special train services originated from NR. Additionally, 31 unreserved round trips of Kalka-Shimla NG trains and 33 trips of Gati Shakti specials from New Delhi to Shri Mata Vaishno Devi and New Delhi to Patna via Varanasi were operated for the benefit of passengers,” he said.

Northern Railway is operating four Vande Bharat train services viz., New Delhi-Varanasi; New Delhi -Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Katra; New Delhi -Amb Andaura and Anand Vihar Terminal-Dehradun.

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