The total expected length of Bilaspur–Mandi–Leh railway is almost 500 km (310 miles). It would become the highest railway track in the world, overtaking the current record of China's Qinghai–Tibet Railway. The Railway Budget 2011-2012 announced that the project would be taken up in the next year's budget. The next year's Railway Budget announced that the project was sent to the Planning Commission for appraisal.
The Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh asked the Government of India to extend railway connectivity from Bilaspur to Leh through Mandi, Manali and Keylong. This would increase tourism in Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh and facilitate quicker movement of troops and equipment. Following an examination of the feasibility report for the proposed Bilaspur–Mandi–Leh railway line, the Union Railway Ministry of India forwarded the recommendation to the Planning Commission of India for its approval. The survey for the project had been done and presently it is seeking approval of the planning commission of India and while railway minister assured about early clearance of this project.
Once this railway line is completed, Leh will be directly connected to Himachal Pradesh and the rest of India by railway. The distance between Bilaspur and Leh will be about 500 km (310 mi). When the railway lines to Bilaspur and then to Leh are completed, the time taken to reach Leh from Delhi will be reduced to less than two days compared to about four days by the existing highway from Manali. Personnel and equipment will be transported more easily to Leh, a strategic military base. This is one of the four important railway connectivity along China border identified by the Defence Ministry.
Bhanupalli (Punjab) to Bilaspur rail link is currently under construction but hardly any funds have been allocated and almost no progress has been made by 2013. There has been a demand to lay the railway line to Bilaspur from Kalka railhead instead of laying it from Bhanupalli. Therefore the alignment and the fate of the proposed railway line to Leh is very uncertain. The railways are short of funds to the extent of more than four hundred billion rupees for the existing projects in hand in year 2013.
Tanglangla station at Tanglang La is expected to become the highest railway station in the world at 5,359 m (17,582 ft) above the sea level overtaking the current record of Tanggula Railway Station in China at 5,086 m (16,686 ft).
After Konkan Railway and Kashmir Railway, Bilaspur–Mandi–Leh railway line will be the most challenging railway project in Indian Railways due to high mountains, a large number of tunnels and high bridges and severe cold weather.[original research?] According to the survey report, cost of construction of this 498 km (309 mi) long all weather broad gauge railway line has been calculated at Rs 22,831 crore with a negative rate of return of 4.46%. However, it is uncertain when the construction would start, if at all.