The progress of the ongoing Indian Railways’ Udhampur – Srinagar – Baramulla Rail Link (USBRL) National Project in Jammu and Kashmir was recently reviewed by Railway Minister Piyush Goyal. Expressing satisfaction on the project progress, Goyal said by completing the project, the aspirations of Jammu & Kashmir residents have to be fulfilled so that the region gets a good transportation system to remain connected all the year round to the rest of India. The Railway Minister asked the engineers working on the USBRL project to expedite the remaining portion on a mission mode. To ensure there is no delay in the construction of the line, Goyal also instructed them to complete the procurement of materials and permission procedures on time.
The Railway Minister was told by Northern Railway General Manager, Ashutosh Gangal that in spite of the districts of Ramban and Reasi where the project is under-construction being declared as Covid Red zone and Orange zone, the development work continued following the pandemic SOPs. On sites, artisans camps, as well as isolation centers, have been provided. During the construction, as many as 366 workers working on the various points of the USBRL project had been detected with novel coronavirus. Now, all have recovered well.
According to the Railway Ministry, the USBRL is a National project undertaken by the national transporter for broad-gauge railway line construction through the Himalayas, connecting the Kashmir region with rest of India. The all-weather, cost effective, convenient and comfortable mass transportation system will be the catalyst for the northern most alpine region’s overall development.
So far, construction of the project’s first three phases has been completed and between Baramulla-Banihal in Kashmir valley as well as Jammu-Udhampur-Katra in Jammu region, the railway line is in operational use for running of trains. Work is ongoing on the intervening 111 Km long section between Katra and Banihal. This is the most arduous and treacherous portion of the project because of its geology and extensive riverine system replete with deep gorges, the ministry said. In this section, several iconic bridges, as well as tunnels, are coming up. In this railway section, most of the rail track will be in tunnels or bridges. Due to the lack of an effective surface transport system in this region, Indian Railways, in order to reach the construction sites, at first had to lay access roads to the tune of 205 Kilometre.
In this project, three agencies namely, KRCL, IRCON and Northern Railway are involved. Also, some other institutes like IIT Delhi, IIT Roorkee, Geological Survey of India as well as DRDO are providing expertise in the project planning and implementation. Moreover, several sets of tunnelling machineries, as well as cranes, have been imported as well. At present, Chenab Bridge’s 95% of the Arch work is complete, while on the Anji bridge- an asymmetric cable stayed bridge, work is on in full swing. Also, 81.21 Kilometre of the total 97.64 Kilometre main tunnelling, as well as 53.50 Kilometre out of 60.5 Kilometre escape tunnel works, have been completed. Construction of 12 mega as well as 10 minor bridges have been finished. By 2021-22, laying of the rest of 12 mega bridges, as well as one more minor bridge, is to be completed, the ministry added.