The Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Railway Link (USBRL) project is heading towards completion with 90 per cent of its sanctioned cost of Rs 37,012.26 crore utilised, a senior railway official said on Monday.
With the completion of the project, Kashmir will be linked with rest of the country. The official said the prestigious national project, being personally monitored by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, is progressing “very well” and the works are taking place in “top gear” at all fronts. “The latest sanctioned cost of the USBRL project is Rs 37,012.26 crore. Cumulative booking of expenditure till February 23 is Rs 3,34,21 crore which is 90.29 percent of the total sanctioned cost,” Chief Administrative Officer, USBRL, S P Mahi told PTI. The Railway ministry sanctioned the construction of the railway line from Udhampur to Baramulla via Srinagar in phases – 25-km Udhampur to Katra in 1994, 118 km Qazigund to Baramulla and 129 km Katra to Qazigund in 1999. In view of the importance of the USBRL in providing seamless and hassle-free connectivity to Kashmir, the 272 km-long USBRL project was declared as a “National Project” in 2002. Out of the total 272 km USBRL project, 161 km was commissioned in phases with first phase 118-km Qazigund-Baramulla section commissioned in October 2009 followed by 18-km Banihal-Qazigund in June 2013 and 25-km Udhampur-Katra in July 2014, while the work on 111-km Katra-Banihal stretch is going on. “Indian Railways is moving closer to connecting Kashmir to the rest of the railway network day-by-day. The USBRL project is progressing very well. The world’s highest railway bridge across Chenab river has been completed and track-linking work on it has started, while work on Indian Railways ‘first cable-stayed bridge’ is nearing completion,” Mahi said.
He said the works are progressing in top gear at all fronts. “The morale of officers and staff working on the project is very high and they are highly motivated to complete this prestigious work expeditiously.” “The alignment of USBRL Project is a culmination of a large number of tunnels and bridges, which are to be implemented in highly rugged and mountainous terrain with the most difficult Himalayan geology,” he said.
He said the project involves 38 tunnels (combined length of 119 km), the longest tunnel (T-49) is having a length of 12.77 km and has been made through on February 15 last year. The official said the Katra-Banihal section predominantly involves tunnelling 163.82 km (97.42 km main tunnel and 66.40 km of escape tunnel). At present 163.08 km of tunnel mining — 97.02 km (24 numbers) out of 97.42 km (27 numbers) of main tunnel and 66.06 km (7 Nos.) out of 66.4 km (8 Nos.) have been completed. Tunnel lining of 149.23 km – 93.17 km (20 Nos.) out of 97.42 km (27 nos) of the main tunnel and 56.06 km (2 Nos) out of 66.4 Km (8 Nos) have been completed.
More than 43.5 km Ballastless Track (BLT) has also been laid out of the total scope of 118 km, the official said.
The CAO USBRL said there are 37 bridges (combined length of 7 km) and includes 26 major bridges and 11 minor bridges. “At present 22 major bridges and 11 minor bridges have been completed and work on all fronts are in full swing.” He said 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 is the highest railway bridge in the world. Mahi said the Chenab bridge has been completed, track linking and some ancillary works such as grating fixing for arch deck protection and inspection platforms are in progress. The official said Indian railway’s first cable-stayed bridge is also being constructed on Anji Khad. The launch of the super structure of Anji bridge is in an advanced stage of progress and 39 segments out of 47 launched. He said electromechanical for Katra-Banihal is sanctioned and all tenders which include integrated sub-stations, power supply arrangement, tunnel ventilation, tunnel lighting, fire fighting and SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) have been awarded and work is in progress. The electrification works of Katra-Banihal section are sanctioned and work is in progress, he said, adding electrification works in Banihal-Baramulla section were completed in September last year.
In addition, more than 205 km access road has also been completed. “Construction of a wide network of access roads has provided connectivity to far flung and inaccessible remote areas, leading to socio-economic development,” he added.