A map of the Kashmir railway showing the Katra-Laole section
|Locale||Jammu and Kashmir|
|Operator(s)||Northern Railway zone|
|Line length||345 km (214 mi)|
|Number of tracks||1|
|Track gauge||1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in)|
The Kashmir Railway in India is a broad gauge rail line which is being built to connect the state of Jammu and Kashmir with the rest of the country. Officially termed the Jammu Udhampur Srinagar Baramulla Railway Link, the railway line starts from Jammu and will travel for 345 km (214 mi) to Baramulla on the northwestern edge of the Kashmir Valley. The route crosses major earthquake zones, and is subjected to extreme temperatures of cold and heat and inhospitable terrain, making it an extremely challenging engineering project.
Forming a part of Firozpur division of the Northern Railway zone, the line has been under construction since 1983 by various railway companies. It will link the state's winter capital, Jammu, with the summer capital, Srinagar, and beyond. The project has had a long and chequered history but serious progress was made only after it was declared a National Project in 2002. The scheduled date of completion was 15 August 2007. However, unforeseen complications have pushed back the deadline to 2017 at the earliest. The rail-link from Banihal to Katra, connecting Kashmir valley with the rest of India, would be completed by 2020, as per the latest (optimistic) update from the railways. On ground construction indicates a 2023-2024 readiness at the earliest.
- 1 History
- 2 Four sections of the railway
- 3 Infrastructure and construction
- 4 Other railway lines in State of Jammu and Kashmir
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External links
1898: Maharaja Pratap Singh first explored the possibility of a railway line connecting Jammu with Srinagar. For various reasons including complications with the British government and political frictions this was put on hold.
1902: Britain proposed a rail link following the Jhelum River connecting Srinagar to Rawalpindi. This was not popular as the residents of the state lived mostly in Jammu and Srinagar and interacted via the more southerly Moghul road. Politics did not favour this proposal.
1905: Britain again proposed a link between Rawalpindi and Srinagar. Maharaja Pratap Singh approved a rail line between Jammu and Srinagar via Reasi through Moghul road. This audacious line was to have involved a 2 ft (610 mm) or 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) gauge railway climbing all the way to the Moghul road pass at 11,000 feet (3,353 m) over the Pir Panjal Range compared to the present day Pir Panjal Railway Tunnel (Banihal Rail Tunnel)'s average elevation 1,760 m. As planned it would have been electric-powered and would have used the mountain streams as a source of hydro-electric power. In retrospect it was perhaps just as well that it was not built. Though it would have been spectacular, the narrow gauge and high-altitude pass would have meant it was not all weather and also constrained to low speed and capacity, similar to the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway.
1947: With partition, the Jammu-Sialkot Line was closed and Jammu was disconnected from Indian railways. A new line from Pathankot to Jammu needed to be laid. It was proposed that it be extended to Srinagar, but the preliminary survey of the Pir Panjal quickly squashed the project as unaffordable.
1983: The Prime Minister kicks off the line from Jammu Tawi to Udhampur. An optimistic schedule of five years and a budget of ₹500 million (US$7.4 million) was set. As detailed below what happened to this line amply illustrates the wisdom of the earlier planners who had abandoned their plans when faced with reality.
1994: The railway minister declared the need for a railway line to Baramulla and the Kashmir Valley. Upon further review it was revealed that this would be a 'hanging' railway running from Qazigund to Srinagar and on to Baramulla. The line from Katra to Qazigund through the mountains still looked unattainable.
July 2002: The Central Government declares the line a National Project. This meant that it would be constructed and completed irrespective of cost funded entirely by the Central Government would fund the entire project. This was important, as the railways did not have the now estimated cost of ₹60 billion (US$891.6 million) for the entire project. By the Indian Railways' allocation it would have taken 60 years to complete the project. A challenging deadline of 15 August 2007, Independence Day, was also set.
13 April 2005: The 53 km (33 mi) long Jammu-Udhampur line is inaugurated, 21 years and ₹5.15 billion (US$76.5 million) after its commencement, marking the completion of "Leg 0". The line had 20 major tunnels and 158 bridges. Its longest tunnel was 2.5 km (1.6 mi) and its highest bridge was 77 m (253 ft) - the highest railway bridge in India. This is in the relatively easy Shivalik Hills.
2008: The Ministry of Railways ordered cancellation of the project on the existing alignment between Katra and Qazigund, due to suspected geological instabilities. It instructed Konkan Railway to stop all work on the section, including the Chenab Bridge, and to terminate all contracts issued for work on the section, pending consideration of major changes in the alignment.
The Railway Board constitutes a high-level committee to examine the feasibility of "Leg 2" of the project and to rework the alignment through the Pir Panjal Mountains, proposing to undertake a fresh survey for construction of the line on a shorter alignment.
11 October 2008: The first isolated section of 66 km (41 mi) between Manzhama and Anantnag on Leg 3 inaugurated, 14 months behind schedule. The train service will operate twice a day in either direction. Complications continues to plague the connection to the plains.
June 2009: Work on the section between Katra and Qazigund resumed after the committee set up to review the alignment approved the existing one with minor changes. Additional geo-technical tests of the rock strata and changes to other portions of the alignment changes were to be reviewed.
28 October 2009: The 18 km (11 mi) long section from Anantnag to Qazigund was inaugurated by the prime minister marking the completion of Leg 3.
2011-12: Boring of the new 11.215 km (7-mile) long Banihal-Qazigund tunnel connecting Bichleri Valley of Banihal with Qazigund in Kashmir Valley completed in October 2011, its lining and laying of rail tracks was completed in the next one year and trial run commenced on 28 December 2012.
9 December 2013: The trial train arrives at Katra.
11 June 2014 : A trial train from Delhi arrived prior to the inauguration of the Udhampur-Katra line and the Katra Railway Station.
4 July 2014 : The train journey on Udhampur-Katra line was officially inaugurated by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The train is named "Shree Shakti Express"
Four sections of the railway
The Kashmir Railway project is divided into four sections:
- Leg 0 extending 53 km (33 mi) from Jammu to Udhampur, completed in April 2005.
- Leg 1 extending 25 km (16 mi) from Udhampur to Katra. This section inaugurated on 4 July 2014 by PM Shri.Narendra Modi. There are two Express trains planned initially - Delhi-Katra and Kalka-Katra.
- Leg 2 extending 148 km (92 mi) from Katra to Banihal. Under construction, may open in 2020.
- Leg 3 extending 112 km (70 mi) from Banihal to Baramulla, completed in October 2009. The length of the railway track in the Kashmir Valley from Baramulla to the start of Banihal tunnel is, however, 119 km.
Progress on the four sections
Leg 0 is complete and operational since 2005.
Leg 1 is complete and operational since July 2014.
This leg had repeatedly missed promised opening dates in the past including December 2005, December 2006 and May 2009. Work on the section, which had been suspended for two years due to collapse of a portion of a tunnel, resumed in September 2009, The section was planned to be commissioned by PM on 2 February. However, passenger train service could not start as planned due to apprehensions expressed by CRS about one bridge and tunnel. The route includes 7 tunnels and 30 small and big bridges. The permit for Vaishno Devi Darshan will be integrated with the train ticket. This section inaugurated on 4 July 2014 by PM Narendra Modi.
Leg 2 under construction, likely to be completed in 2019-20.
Construction of Leg 2 has been plagued by technical difficulties over the choice of alignment and disputes with contractors and is not expected to be completed until 2017-18. This is the most difficult section of the rail line, with 62 bridges and multiple tunnels with a cumulative total length of 10 km out of total 129 km. It also requires laying of 262 km of access roads connecting 147,000 people in 73 villages, out of which 160 km connecting 29 villages has been completed. In July 2008, the work in some section of the Katra-Banihal section was suspended for considering a realignment. The alternative alignment proposed by the railway reduced the length of track from 126 km to 67 km. The expert committee appointed by the railway board has recommended to abandon 93 km of the previously approved alignment. On 12 November 2014, Delhi highcourt has directed the Central Government to constitute a committee to review the 126 km long section of the rail link.
The stretch of 18 km includes a 11.215 km (7-mile) long Pir Panjal railway tunnel, also known as Banihal railway tunnel, connecting Bichleri Valley of Banihal with Qazigund in Kashmir Valley. Pir Panjal Railway Tunnel is India's longest and Asia's sixth longest railway tunnel (After the 53 km long Seikan Tunnel in Japan, followed by the 28 km long Taihang Tunnel, the 28 km long West Qinling Tunnel, the 21 km long Wushaoling Tunnel in Gansu, and the 21 km long Lüliangshan Tunnel, these four all in China). The tunnel is 8.40 m wide with a height of 7.39 m. The tunnel includes a three-metre wide service road along the length of the tunnel for maintenance of railway tracks and emergency relief. The tunnel's average elevation at 1,760 m (5,770 ft) is 440 m (1,440 ft) below the existing road tunnel. The boring was completed in four years in October 2011, its lining and laying of rail tracks was completed in the next one year and trial run commenced on 28 December 2012.
The tunnel facilitates transportation during winters when inclement weather forces closure of the Srinagar-Jammu highway. The rail tunnel reduces the distance between Quazigund and Banihal by 17 km (from 35 km by road to 17.5 km by train). Banihal railway station is situated at 1,702 m (5,584 ft) above mean sea level. Trains run from Banihal to Qazigund through the tunnel.
The work on various tunnels, bridges and related infrastructure is under way and the Katra to Banganga section (5 km) is likely to be operational way before the final completion date of 2017-18 for the whole project.
Leg 3 is complete and operational since October 2009.
The railway network in Kashmir from Baramulla to Banihal is now 130 km long. Since 25 km long Udhampur-Katra section was commissioned in October 2013, only the 148 km long Katra-Banihal section of "Leg 2" remains to be constructed. Until the Katra- Laole section of Kashmir railway gets constructed in another five years in 2017-2018, people can travel from Jammu Tawi or Udhampur to Banihal by road and take the train from Banihal to Srinagar through the Banihal railway tunnel.
Infrastructure and construction
The Kashmir Railway is perhaps the most difficult new railway line project undertaken on the Indian subcontinent by the Government of India. The terrain passes through the young Himalayas, which are full of geological surprises and numerous problems. The alignment for the line presents one of the greatest railway engineering challenges ever faced, with the only contest coming from the Qingzang Railway in Tibet that was completed in 2006 and crosses permanently frozen ground and climbs to more than 5,000 m (16,000 ft) above sea level. While the temperatures of the Kashmir Railway area are not as severe as in Tibet, it does still experience extreme winters with heavy snowfalls. However, what makes the route even more complex is the requirement to pass through the Himalayan foothills and the mighty Pir Panjal range, with most peaks exceeding 15,000 ft (4,600 m) in height.
The route includes many bridges, viaducts and tunnels. The railway is expected to cross a total of over 750 bridges and pass through over 100 km (62 mi) of tunnels, the longest of which is 11.215 km (7 miles) in length. The greatest engineering challenges involve the crossing of the Chenab river, which involves building a 1,315 m (4,314 ft) long bridge 359 m (1,178 ft) above the river bed, and the crossing of the Anji Khad, which involves building a 657 m (2,156 ft) long bridge 186 m (610 ft) above the river bed. The Chenab Bridge will be the highest railway structure of its kind in the world, 35 m higher than the tip of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Both bridges are to be simple span bridges. Weathering steel is planned to be used to provide an environment friendly appearance and eliminate the need to paint the bridge. The design and structure is very similar to the New River Gorge Bridge. The project is being managed by the Konkan Railway Corporation. Completion is scheduled for 2012, four years after the first isolated section of the route was opened for local passenger services, and it requires the use of 26,000 tonne of steel.
All tunnels including the Banihal Tunnel will be constructed using the New Austrian Tunneling method. Numerous challenges have been encountered while tunneling through the geologically young and unstable Shivalik mountains. In particular water ingress problems have been seen in the Udhampur to Katra section. This has required some drastic solutions using steel arches and several feet of shotcrete.
Even though the line is being built through a mountainous region, a ruling gradient of 1% has been set to provide a safe, smooth and reliable journey. More importantly bankers will not be required, making the journey quicker and smoother. It will be built to 1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in) Indian broad gauge laid on concrete sleepers with continuous welded rail and with a minimum curve radius of 676 m. Maximum line speed will be 100 kilometres per hour (62 mph). Provision for future doubling will be made on the major bridges. Additionally provisions for future electrification will be made, though the line will be operated with diesel locomotives initially, as Kashmir is an electricity scarce region at present. There will be 30 stations on the full route, served by 10–12 trains per day initially.
The Kashmir line will connect with the Indian Railways railhead at Jammu Tawi. The 53 km railway line from Jammu to Udhampur was opened in 2005.
Passenger services will be provided by the new aerodynamic High Power diesel multiple units, which have certain special features incorporated into them. The air-conditioned coaches have wide windows for a panoramic view, anti-skid flooring, sliding doorways, heating facilities, an attractive colour scheme and executive class reclining seats inside. The driver's cabin has a heating and defogging unit to take care of cold climatic conditions and is fitted with single lookout glass windows to give a wider view. A snow-cutting type cattle guard has been attached at the driving end of the train for clearing snow from the tracks during winter. In view of the peculiar climate of the valley, the 1,400-horsepower diesel engine for the train has been provided with a heating system for a quick and trouble-free start in the winters. A public information system with display and announcement facilities are included in the coaches which have pneumatic suspension for better riding comfort. There is also a compartment for physically challenged people with wider doors.
Freight rolling stock for the new route will be from the existing national fleet. Freight services conveying grain and petroleum products will run in between the 10–12 passengers services that are planned to operate daily.
Maintenance of all rolling stock and locomotives will be at the newly built Badgam workshop just north of Srinagar.
Signalling and communications
Three-aspect colour light signalling is being installed on the route to maintain train safety. GSM-R equipment may be installed in the future to improve the quality of the system. There has also been mention of the Konkan Railway Corporation's ACD (Anti-Collision Device) being supplied for equipment on the line.
Security for the line has been a major concern, with the regions the line passes through continuing to face terrorist challenges. Due to proximity with the Line of Control between Pakistan Administered Kashmir and Indian Administered Jammu & Kashmir, these challenges aggravate. Plans for close circuit cameras at all major bridges, tunnels and railway stations have been made. Lighting is provided on all major bridges and inside tunnels. Additionally security arrangements to protect the infrastructure are being discussed.
Project execution agencies
- Indian Railways is in charge of the Udhampur-Katra Section (25 km).
- Konkan Railway Corporation Limited is in charge of the Katra-Laole Section (90 km). This is arguably the toughest portion of the railway with over 92% of the line either inside a tunnel or on a bridge. The bridges comprise 12 km, the tunnels comprise 72 km and only a minuscule part of this tortuous stretch, 6 km, is on open ground.
- IRCON, a Public Sector railway construction company is in charge of the Dharam-Qazigund-Baramulla Section (175 km)- another tough but less brutal section. Out of this, 138 km. including railway line in Kashmir valley and line through Pir Panjal tunnel has been operational.
- HCC constructed the 11.215 km (7-mile) Banihal tunnel across the Pir Panjal range for approx US$120 million.
- AFCONS with Ultra Engineering (South Korea) will design and construct the Chenab Bridge for US$130 million.
- Gammon India with Archirodon Construction (South Africa) will build the Anji Khad Bridge for US$100 million.
June 2004 – Sudhir Kumar Pundir, an IRCON Engineer and his brother Sanjay were kidnapped and murdered by terrorists in the valley.
June 2005 – Altaf Hussain, A laborer working in a Tunnel at Tathyar (HCC) was killed by a collapse. Two others were injured.
16 May 2007 – Fancy Akther 09, daughter of Mushtaq Ahmad Wagay and Khushboo Akther 07, daughter of Mohammad Ayub Wani. Drowned in a ditch constructed by Railway Company.
14 Feb 2008 – A Nepali labourer Tika Ram Balwari son of Tuya Narayan was killed after a boulder hit him in at Uri Varmul, presumably on the Kashmir rail project for HCC.
18 Apr 2008 – Six labourers of a private company, engaged with the Katra-Qazigund railway line project, were killed and two others received injuries when a tipper carrying them rolled down into a deep gorge in Lower Juda Morh near Kouri in Reasi district late at night. Besides Tara Chand, others have been identified as Resham Singh and Shambhu Ram, both residents of Pattian in Reasi, Dhani Ram, Sandeep Lal and Vishno, residents of Nepal.
27 Mar 2011 – Two workers, Abdul Rahman (34) and Jumma Baksh (24), were killed at an under-construction railway bridge over the Chenab in Reasi district as a basket attached to a crane carrying them unhooked and fell from a height of more than 100 metres.
Dec 2010 – Railways complete construction of crucial tunnel in Sangaldam between the Katra-Qazigund
Feb 2011 – It was reported by an Indian news channel that there was a consensus among the top railway officials of the country that the present rail alignment of the project was not ideal.
Oct 2011 – Boring of the Banihal-Qazigund railway tunnel, Pir Panjal Railway Tunnel, the 11.215 km (7-mile) long railway tunnel completed.
May 2012 – About eight years after the contract for design and built of world's tallest railway bridge was awarded to AFCONS Infrastructure Ltd, the excavation for foundation of the 1315 metre long bridge across river Chenab on Katra-Banihal Section of the prestigious Udhampur-Baramulla railway project has begun in Reasi district while as Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) has finalized the blast load parameters for the superstructure of the bridge.
Nov 2012 – The construction of all tunnels between Udhampur and Katra, including the T1 Tunnel which had seepage problem, was completed earlier this month. Katra railway station to be commissioned by March 2013
28 Dec 2012 – Trial runs on the tracks in Banihal-Qazigund railway tunnel conducted.
26 June 2013 — Pir Panjal railway tunnel between Banihal railway station and Qazigund railway station is inaugurated.
9 Dec 2013 – Railways conduct trial run of new Udhampur-Katra line.
4 July 2014 - Prime Minister Narendra Modi flags off Katra to Delhi via Udhampur train.
Other railway lines in State of Jammu and Kashmir
Three other lines in the State are approved or under construction.
Bilaspur-Mandi-Leh railway line
The Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh asked the railway minister to construct a railway line from Bilaspur to Leh through Mandi and Manali. This would increase tourism and security in Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh by making transportation into the region faster.
Following an examination of the feasibility report for the proposed Bilaspur-Mandi-Leh Railway line, the railway ministry forwarded the recommendation to the Planning Commission of India for its approval but the project had not been approved until 2013 and may not be approved as Indian Railways is very short of funds.
The Jammu-Poonch railway is a proposed railway from Jammu Tawi station via the town of Akhnoor to Poonch. The line was designated a national project on 22 March 2012. The line was excluded from the railway budget.
The Srinagar Kargil Leh railway is a proposed railway line from Srinagar station via the town of Kargil to Leh. The line was designated a national project on 26 February 2013
The railway minister of India, Pawan Kumar Bansal announced that the survey of Srinagar Kargil Leh railway taken in the year 2013-14.
Minister of state in the ministry of railways K. H Muniyappa, to a question asked by Sharifud-Din Shariq during Lok Sabha session November - December 2009 replied that survey for Baramulla-Kupwara new line has already been conducted. Work on this section hasn't been started yet. The line was excluded from the railway budget.
According to the minister of State for Railways, Jaya Surya Prakash Reddy, the Anantnag-Pahalgam new rail line, is under survey and the target date of completion has not been fixed.
Trains Time Table (Baramulla-Banihal)
74639/74640 Srinagar Banihal Fast DEMU Passenger
- Rail transport in India
- Mountain Railways of India
- Udhampur to Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Katra Trains Time Table
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- Design features of Kashmir Railway
- Project Brief of Udhampur Srinagar Baramulla Railway Link
- Kashmir Railway Map on Openstreetmap
- Pir Panjal Railway Tunnel T80 By N.A.T.M