India`s longest rail tunnel to open for traffic next year

India`s longest railway tunnel, which will realize the dream of connecting Kashmir with rest of the country by train, will be made operational next year.

Last Updated: May 27, 2011, 17:55 PM IST

Srinagar: India`s longest railway tunnel,
which will realize the dream of connecting Kashmir with rest
of the country by train, will be made operational next year.

The 11-km-long tunnel, passing through the Pir Panjal
mountain range, will link Qazigund in Kashmir with Banihal in
Jammu region.

"We are hopeful that Banihal-Qazikund rail line consisting
the longest tunnel in the country will be commissioned by
December 2012," Northern Railway Chief Administrative Officer
Chahatey Ram said.

Srinagar: India`s longest railway tunnel,
which will realize the dream of connecting Kashmir with rest
of the country by train, will be made operational next year.

The 11-km-long tunnel, passing through the Pir Panjal
mountain range, will link Qazigund in Kashmir with Banihal in
Jammu region.

"We are hopeful that Banihal-Qazikund rail line consisting
the longest tunnel in the country will be commissioned by
December 2012," Northern Railway Chief Administrative Officer
Chahatey Ram said.

While the 53-km Jammu-Udhampur section was opened to
public in 2005, the 119-km Qazigund-Baramulla route has been
made operational in 2009. The Banihal-Qazigund is part of the
129-km-long Katra-Qazigund rail line.

While the Banihal-Qazigund is expected to be operational
by 2012, work on the entire Katra-Qazigund is expected to be
completed by 2017.

Terming the work as challenging, Ram said, "We are making
the rail line operational in phases due to various problems.
The work is really a very challenging one because of the
fragile geology and steep topography."

The Railways has spent Rs 7,165 crore on the Kashmir rail
link project till now.

The Katra-Qazigund link is an engineering challenge and
the project involves construction of 13 tunnels, 62 small and
big bridges and 11 railway stations.

"There were no approaching roads to the site. So we are
making approaching roads first and the work on tunnelling and
laying rail line will commence next," he said.

Besides Banihal-Qazigund, Katra-Udhampur rail line will
also be made operational by 2012.

"There were seepage problems in two tunnels which caused
delay in completing Katra-Udhampur line. The problems have
been rectified and the line is expected to be opened to public
in 2012," he said.

PTI