The Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Link (USBRL) project achieved a significant breakthrough last week by completing the T-14 tunnel between Sangaldan and Sawalkote stations on the Katra-Banihal section. The breakthrough ceremony was conducted by a woman employee, Indu Paul Kaur of Awantipora in Kashmir, an engineer in IRCON.
T-14 is a tunnel that spans 6.284 km with two tubes, the main tunnel and the escape tunnel. The tunnel ends are located in two districts of Reasi and Ramban. The tunnel was constructed using the New Austrian Tunneling Method (NATM), an observational and sequential construction method, according to Shobhan Chaudhuri, the general manager of Northern Railways.
The south portal of tunnel T-14 is situated in Sawalkote village in Arnas tehsil, 100 km from the district headquarters of Reasi, at an altitude of 1,070 m. Meanwhile, the north portal of the tunnel is located in Ind village of Gool tehsil in Ramban, at an altitude of 1,150 m, said a Northern Railway official. The construction of the tunnel was challenging as both tunnel portals were located in remote villages with no road connectivity prior to the start of construction.
A One-Of-Its-Kind Project
The Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Link project is a 272-km-long railway line connecting the Kashmir valley to the Indian Railways network under the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Link project, which was sanctioned in 1994-95. Post-independence, the project is one of the most challenging works undertaken by the Indian Railways, and it aims to provide an alternative and reliable transportation system to Jammu and Kashmir.
Due to the importance of the USBRL project in providing seamless and hassle-free connectivity, it was declared a “National Project” in 2002. Of the total 272 km length, 161 km have already been commissioned and operationalized across three sections: Udhampur-Katra (25 km), Banihal-Quazigund (18 km), and Quazigund-Baramulla section (118 km).
The Katra-Banihal section is the most crucial part of the project as it involves 164 km tunneling across 27 tunnels, the highest number in the entire project. With 87% of the total length (97 km out of 111 km) in tunnels, this section presents an engineering challenge in the highly rugged and mountainous terrain with one of the most difficult and complex Himalayan geology.
Expansion of CDRI Membership to Africa
In a bid to foster sustainable and disaster-resilient infrastructure, India’s Central Public Works Department’s Central Design and Research Institute (CDRI) plans to expand its membership to African countries. The CDRI aims to provide technical services to developing countries through consultancy services in infrastructure, including roads, railways, bridges, tunnels, and airports.
By expanding membership to African countries, the CDRI seeks to strengthen cooperation between India and Africa while simultaneously enhancing the technical capabilities of African countries. This move aligns with India’s strategy to promote South-South cooperation to foster sustainable and inclusive growth.
The completion of the T-14 tunnel marks a significant milestone in the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Link project, which is one of India’s most challenging infrastructure projects. With the CDRI’s plans to expand its membership to African countries, it can promote sustainable and disaster-resilient infrastructure while fostering technical cooperation between the two regions. The expansion of CDRI’s membership to African countries will not only benefit India and Africa but also contribute to the larger goal of promoting South-South cooperation for sustainable and inclusive growth. The completion of the Katra-Banihal section of the USBRL project, which involves tunneling across 27 tunnels, is crucial to providing seamless and hassle-free connectivity to Jammu and Kashmir. The project’s success is a testament to India’s engineering capabilities and its commitment to developing world-class infrastructure.