YAMU, Feb 27: The Udampur-Srinagar-Baramulla (USBRL) rail link project is moving towards completion with 90 per cent utilization of the sanctioned cost of Rs 37,012.26 crore, a senior railway official said on Monday.
With the completion of the project, Kashmir will be connected to the rest of the country. The official said the prestigious national project, which is being personally overseen by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnav, is progressing “very well” and things are going in “top gear” on all fronts.
“The latest sanctioned cost of the USBRL project is Rs 37,012.26 crore. The cumulative cost provision till February 23 is Rs 3,34.21 crore, which is 90.29 per cent of the total sanctioned cost,” said Chief Administrative Officer, USBRL, SP Mahi.
The Ministry of Railways sanctioned 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.
Considering the importance of USBRL in providing seamless and trouble-free connectivity to Kashmir, the 272-km long USBRL project was declared a “National Project” in 2002. Of the total 272 km USBRL project, 161 km was commissioned in phases with the first phase 118-km Qazigund-Baramulla section commissioned in October 2009, followed by the 18-km Banihal-Qazigund in June 2013 and the 25-km Udampur -Katra in July 2014, while work on the 111 km Katra-Banihal stretch continues.
“Indian Railways is getting closer by the day to connect Kashmir with the rest of the railway network. The USBRL project is progressing very well. The world’s highest railway bridge over the river Chenab has been completed and track-linking work on it has started, while work on the ‘first cable-stayed bridge’ of Indian Railways is nearing completion,” Mahi said.
He said things are moving into top gear on all fronts. “The morale of the officials and staff working on the project is very high and they are highly motivated to quickly complete this prestigious work.” “The alignment of the USBRL project is the culmination of a number of tunnels and bridges, to be implemented in a very rugged and mountainous terrain with the toughest Himalayan geology,” he said.
He said the project includes 38 tunnels (combined length of 119 km), the longest tunnel (T-49) is 12.77 km long and was built on February 15 last year. The official said the Katra-Banihal section mostly involves tunneling for 163.82 km (97.42 km main tunnel and 66.40 km escape tunnel). At present 163.08 km tunnel excavation – 97.02 km (24 numbers) of 97.42 km (27 numbers) main tunnel and 66.06 km (7 nos) of 66.4 km (8 nos) are completed. The 149.23 km tunnel alignment – 93.17 km (20 nos) of the 97.42 km (27 nos) of the main tunnel and 56.06 km (2 nos) of the 66.4 km (8 nos) ) are completed.
More than 43.5 km of ballastless track (BLT) out of the total stretch of 118 km has also been laid, the official said.
CAO USBRL said there are 37 bridges (combined length of 7 km) and includes 26 major bridges and 11 minor bridges. “Currently, 22 major bridges and 11 minor bridges have been completed and works on all fronts are in full swing.
He said these bridges include the iconic Chenab Bridge (total length 1315 m, arch span of 467 m and height of 359 m above the river bed) which is the highest railway bridge in the world. Mahi said that the Chenab Bridge has been completed, connecting the track and some ancillary works like fixing gratings to protect the bow deck and inspection platforms are in progress.
The official said that the first cable-stayed bridge of Indian Railways is also being constructed at Anji Khad. The launch of the Anji Bridge super structure is in an advanced stage of progress and 39 segments out of 47 have been launched.
He said that electro-mechanical for Katra-Banihal has been sanctioned and all tenders which include integrated substations, power arrangement, tunnel ventilation, tunnel lighting, fire fighting and SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) have been awarded and work is in progress. Electrification work on Katra-Banihal section has been sanctioned and work is underway, he said, adding that electrification work on Banihal-Baramulla section was completed in September last year.
In addition, an access road with a length of 205 kilometers has been completed. “The construction of an extensive network of access roads has ensured connectivity to remote and inaccessible remote areas, leading to socio-economic development,” he added.