Union Railways Minister Piyush Goyal reviewed the progress of the ongoing Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Link (USBRL) National Project in Jammu & Kashmir. VK Yadav, CEO & Chairman Railway Board and Ashutosh Gangal, General Manager Northern Railway were also present in the meeting held via video conferencing. Vijay Sharma, Chief Administrative Officer/ Construction USBRL Project apprised the minister about the latest status of work on the last leg of the project between Katra-Banihal.
Expressing satisfaction on the progress of the project, Minister of Railways said that, the aspirations of the people of Jammu & Kashmir have to be fulfilled by completing the project so that the region gets a good transportation system to remain connected to the rest of the country all the year-round.
He called upon the engineers working on the project to expedite the remaining portion on mission mode. He also instructed them to complete the procurement of materials and permission procedures on time so that there is no delay in the construction of the line.
Ashutosh Gangal, GM, Northern Railway shared with the Minister that in spite of Ramban and Reasi districts where the project is under-construction being declared as Covid Red and Orange zones the work on the projects continued following the Covid-19 SOPs. Artisans camps and isolation centers have been provided on sites. 366 people working on the various points had been detected with the virus, but all have recovered well.
Udhampur Srinagar Baramulla Rail Link
The USBRL (Udhampur Srinagar Baramulla Rail Link) is a National project undertaken by the Indian Railways for construction of broad-gauge railway line through the Himalayas with the aim of connecting the Kashmir region with the rest of the country. The all-weather, comfortable, convenient and cost effective mass transportation system will be the catalyst for the overall development of the northern-most alpine region of the country.
First 3 phases of project operational
Construction of the first three phases of the project has been completed and the line is in operational use for running of trains between Baramulla-Banihal in Kashmir valley and Jammu-Udhampur-Katra in Jammu region.
Work underway for Katra-Banihal -- most arduous, treacherous portion -- underway
Work on the intervening 111 Km section Katra-Banihal, the most arduous and treacherous portion due to its geology and extensive riverine system replete with deep gorges is ongoing. There are several iconic bridges and tunnels coming up in this section. Most of the rail track is slated to be in tunnels or bridges in this section. In the absence of an effective surface transport system in this in-hospitable region, Railways had to first lay access roads to the tune of 205 Km to reach the construction sites.
Three agencies; IRCON, KRCL and Northern Railway with extensive experience in construction of rail lines are involved in this project. Many international agencies and premier Indian institutes like IIT Roorkee, IIT Delhi, DRDO and Geological Survey of India are providing expertise in planning and implementation. Several sets of tunnelling, machineries and cranes have also been imported.
What's done and what's left
Presently 95 per cent of the Arch work of the Chenab Bridge, world's tallest railway bridge is complete, while the work on the Anji bridge an asymmetric cable-stayed bridge is on in full swing. 81.21Km of the total 97.64 Km main tunnelling and 53.50 Km out of 60.5 Km escape tunnel works have been completed. 12 mega and 10 minor bridges have been completed. Laying of the remaining 12 mega bridges and one more minor bridge is to be completed by 2021-22.