Country’s longest tunnel from Valley to Pir Panjal ready

Country’s longest tunnel ready
Trial run of train from Valley to Pir Panjal by year-end

With the country’s longest tunnel between Qazigund and Banihal ready, the trial run of train between the Kashmir valley and south of Pir Panjal will be conducted by December-end.

“The 17.5-km railway line from Qazigund to Banihal that includes a 11-km-long tunnel is ready and the engine trial will be held on December 31,” the executive director of IRCON, Anand Parkash, told The Tribune.

He said after the trial run, an inspection would be conducted by officials of the Railway Safety Board who will decide as to when the train will actually ply between Qazigund in Kashmir to Banihal in Jammu.

“It will be only after the inspection of the track, railway station and the tunnel that the train will be allowed to ply,” Prakash said. “However, it will not ply before March next year,” he added.

Yesterday, Minister of State for Statistics and Programme Implementation Srikant Kumar had told the Lok Sabha in a written reply that the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla railway line would now be completed by December 2017 at a cost of Rs 8,000 crore.

While it will take five more years before the train from the Valley gets connected to the countrywide railway network, the railway officials claim that the rail track between Qazigund to Banihal is a key step towards the larger project of 345-km-long Baramulla-Udhampur railway line.

“This longest tunnel will be covered by the train in six minutes”, said a railway official.

The work from Qazigund to Banihal was awarded to Hindustan Construction Company (HCC) in August 2005.

The trains in Kashmir ply between Baramulla in north Kashmir and Qazigund in south and cover a distance of 119 km. Railways say as many as 7,000 passengers travel everyday during the autumn season and in summers, 9,000 passengers travel by trains.

The first phase of railway service between Anantnag and Budgam districts was inaugurated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on October 11, 2008. The second phase of the train between Budgam and Baramulla was flagged off by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on February 14, 2009, followed by the third phase between Anantnag to Qazigund by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on October 28, 2009.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2012/20121208/j&k.htm#1

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