A small train ran on Tuesday on the world’s highest railway track under construction on the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla rail link on the Chenab valley in Jammu and Kashmir.
The ceremony was observed at the Bakal Surrey and flagged off the mounted vehicles. These small vehicles will be operated on this track for two years. Sources said that the train was successful on the track on river Chenab in Jammu and Kashmir on the first day and is likely to be completed by the third week of this month. This will be a major milestone in the completion of the USBRL, also known as the Kashmir Link.
The bridge has been built at cost of around Rs 1,400 crore, is the biggest civil engineering challenge faced by any railway project in India in recent history. Once the 111 km stretch will complete, the Srinagar-bound train can reach Kanyakumari without any hindrance. Recently the authorities completed the track laying work on the Chenab bridge.
Earlier announced as a national project in 2002, the project has a length of 272 km from Baramulla to Udhampur, connecting the valley to the rest of the country. While the 25 km long Udhampur – Katra section was commissioned in July 2014, the 118 km long Quezigund-Baramulla section was commissioned in October 2009. Similarly, the 118 km long Banhal-Kazigund section was started in June 2013.
This bridge was built between Bakal and Kuri in the Riasi district. According to Indian Railways, this bridge falls under Seismic Zone IV. While the construction of the bridge began in 2002, the bridge was hailed as a major step towards rail connectivity. While it also has security measures against any possible terrorist attack, the bridge can withstand magnitude 8 earthquakes and high-intensity explosions.
Also, the world’s highest railway bridge over the Chenab got its gold lining in August last year, paving the way for engineers to lay tracks. About 300 engineers and 1,300 workers worked around the clock to build the bridge. The government awarded the construction of the bridge to M/S Chenab Bridge Project Undertaking, a joint venture between Afcons Infrastructure, VSL India and Ultra Construction and Engineering Company of South Korea.
The bridge has been built at a total cost of Rs 27949 crore and has a length of 1315 meters. It is made of 28,660 metric tons of steel. The useful life of the bridge is around 120 years. At present, the railway link to Kashmir is mainly the 25 km section from Udhampur to Katra, and the 18 km line from Banhal to Qazigund in the valley and then 118 Kazi. It is till Gund-Baramula.