Welcome to Paradise
© 2012 PKG Photography, all rights reserved
The Kashmir Railway is perhaps the most difficult new railway line project undertaken on the Indian subcontinent by 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, China which was completed in 2006 and crosses permanently frozen ground and climbs to more than 5,000 metres (16,000 ft) above sea level. While the temperatures of the Kashmir Railway area are not as severe as 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 feet (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 kilometres (62 mi) of tunnels, the longest of which is about 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) in length. The greatest engineering challenges involve the crossing of the Chenab river, which involves building a 1,315-metre-long (4,314 ft) bridge 359 metres (1,178 ft) above the river bed, and the crossing of the Anji Khad, which involves building a 657-metre-long (2,156 ft) bridge 186 metres (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. Cor-Ten 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 t of steel.
All tunnels including the New 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 the Indian standard broadgauge of 1,676 millimetres (5.499 ft) 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, where a 55 km access route has been built to Udhampur.
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 Budgam workshop just north of Srinagar.
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 — Banihal-Qazigund railway tunnel, Pir Panjal Railway Tunnel, the 10.96 Km long railway tunnel, passes through the Pir Panjal Range of middle Himalayas in Jammu and Kashmir. It is a part of its Udhampur - Srinagar - Baramulla rail link project, opened in October 2011, India's longest and Asia's second longest railway tunnel and reduced the distance between Quazigund and Banihal to only 11 km .
Jan 2012 — The Jammu and Kashmir government has said that Qazigund-Banihal and Udhampur-Katra railway tracks, connecting Kashmir with rest of the country through rail-line are likely to be completed by December.