Connecting Kashmir: Banihal-Sangaldan section of Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Link to open on Feb 20

08:29 AM Feb 17, 2024 | PTI |

New Delhi: The Indian Railways will start train services on the Banihal-Khari-Sumber-Sangaldan section, a 48.1-km-long significant segment of the country’s most ambitious Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Link (USBRL) project, on February 20.


“We will get a step closure to realise our dream to connect Srinagar with Kanyakumari,” a source in the railways told PTI.

“The Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Link (USBRL) project is one of the most ambitious Himalayan railway projects post independence,” he added.

According to sources in the railways, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to inaugurate the section by virtually flagging off a train from Sangaldan.

However, an official confirmation in this regard is awaited.


Talking about the project, a senior railway official said, “Spanning the challenging terrain of the Pir Panjal ranges, the USBRL aims at establishing an all-weather, comfortable and economically-feasible transportation network, connecting remote Himalayan areas with the rest of the country.” The USBRL project seeks to integrate the Kashmir valley with the Jammu region and the national rail network, spanning a total length of 272 kilometres out of which 161 kilometres have already been commissioned.

According to the railways, the Banihal-Khari-Sumber-Sangaldan section, which was constructed at a cost of Rs 15,863 crore, is ready for operation and the existing train services from Baramulla to Banihal will now be extended up to Sangaldan, a town near the district headquarters of Ramban.

“It features 16 bridges — 11 major ones, four minor ones and one road overbridge. More than 90 per cent of this section is in tunnels, with a total of 11 tunnels covering 43.37 kilometres, including the country’s longest transportation tunnel, T-50, stretching 12.77 kilometres in the Khari-Sumber section,” a senior official associated with the project said.

“For safety and rescue, there are three escape tunnels with a combined length of 30.1 kilometres. Additionally, the section includes 30 curves spanning 23.72 kilometres. To further enhance passenger safety and comfort, several advanced features have been incorporated, such as ballastless tracks and canted turnouts (a first for the Indian Railways),” he added.

Besides, CCTV monitoring and state-of-the-art tunnel-safety technology, including ventilation and firefighting systems, are some of the other added safety features.

So far as electrification is concerned, the Baramulla-Srinagar-Banihal-Sangaldan section of the USBRL project, which spans 185.66 RKM (route kilometres) and serves 19 railway stations, is complete, the sources said.

“Constructed for Rs 470.23 crore, with electrification, it is possible to operate the state-of-the-art Vande Bharat trains in the section. Other noteworthy features include 25-KV OHE inside the longest operational tunnel (tunnel T-80 in the Banihal-Quazigund section), specialised equipment for high-altitude operations and 132/33-KV traction substations at altitudes exceeding 1,600 MSL,” one of the sources said.


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