Bilaspur-Manali-Leh railway line for Ladakh! Soon, connectivity issues in the heart of Leh-Ladakh will be completely solved! Indian Railways, along with the Ministry of Defence, is coming up with a big infrastructural project which will provide all-weather railway connectivity from Himachal Pradesh to Leh. The Bilaspur-Manali railway line, reported to be the world’s highest railway line, is scheduled to become operational in the coming few years.
The Ladakh region usually remains cut-off from the rest of the country for nearly six months every year due to the closure of the 434-km long Srinagar-Leh national highway during winters. However, the work on the detailed project report (DPR) for the all-weather railway line between Himachal Pradesh to Leh has started. Once the project is completed, it will provide an all-weather surface connectivity to the far flung areas of Ladakh. Here’s all you need to know about the upcoming Bilaspur-Manali-Leh railway line and some of its unique features:
1. The Bilaspur-Manali-Leh railway line project is set to be at the highest point of 5,360 metres above the mean sea level. This Indian Railways project is comparable only to the Qinghai-Tibet rail line of China. The 51-km long stretch from Upshi in Himachal Pradesh and Phe in the Leh district will be seamlessly connected with this line.
2. This railway project is of strategic significance as it will lie along the Indo-China border and will not just help the armed forces of the country, but will also boost tourism and overall development of the region. The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has worked on the final location survey (FLS).
3. Presently the railway connectivity in Leh is not easy. Bhanupalli is the nearest rail head, which itself is about 730 km from Leh. Hence, the region requires commuter services to offer smooth travel with other neighbouring regions.
4. On the completion of this railway line, the areas between Bilaspur and Leh such as Manali, Upshi,Mandi, Sundernagar, Koksar, Keylong, Karu, Darcha as well as other important towns of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir will get seamless railway connectivity.
Bilaspur-Manali-Leh railway line map
5. With the completion of this railway project, the travel time between Delhi and Leh will also considerably reduce. The travel time through surface mode will reduce to half. As of now, it takes around 40 hours but with the opening of the new railway line, it will take 20 hours between Delhi and Leh.
6. This railway line also holds socio-cultural significance as it will boost the tourist inflow and lead to a rise of economic activities in Ladakh. It will also be beneficial for the livelihood of the local population.
7. The Bilaspur-Manali-Leh railway line has been proposed as a single track railway line and the track is expected to have major tunnels, bridges and viaducts. A total of 30 stations will be covered across this entire line.
8. It is said to be the most difficult railway project in the country and much larger than the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramula railway line.
9. The route of this rail line passes through difficult, treacherous, inaccessible as well as rugged area. It traverse through areas with challenging geology, geography and low oxygen levels due to high altitudes.
10. The train coaches for this particular railway line will be specially built for the higher altitude and oxygen masks are likely to be present for every passenger, given that the cabin pressure in the coaches will have to be maintained at such altitudes.