May 2004 News

The Jammu - Udhampur Rail Link

16 May 2004
The Daily Excelsior
Om Prakash

Jammu: Udhampur at a height of 861 meters above sea level in Jammu and Kashmir will soon be on the map of the Indian Railways. Bholu, its mascot, will register the Railways' presence in this hilly district of the State. The 53 kilometre - long railway track between Jammu and Udhampur is now almost complete and just waiting for a passenger train to pass by. Built at a cost of Rs. 550 crore, it is an engineering marvel telling us how we are capable of completing arduous tasks despite hurdles. The project, which was sanctioned by the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi , in the early 80s, was delayed due to geo-technical problems and lack of funds at the initial stages. But in 1994-95 sufficient funds were allocated and the work gained momentum. The railway line passing though hilly stations like Bajalta, Sangar, Manwal and Ramnagar Road also touches the hearts of the locals of all age groups who express their joy by merely watching it with the hope that soon they will be able to boost their business activities and save their time while travelling to Jammu and other places in the country. Laying of a railway line on rocks and cliffs has not been an easy task due to the topography of the Shivalik ranges which has always been a challenge. But engineers, labourers, and the railway officials have made it possible with their determination. Using the latest technology, the railway line has been laid with 20 tunnels and 158 bridges. It has the longest tunnel of about 2.5 km length which is longer than the Jawahar Tunnel on the National Highway No.1 on the Pir Panjal ranges, connecting the Kashmir valley with the rest of the country by road. The Gambhir bridge is another example of the engineering feat. It is 77 metres high. It is the highest rail bridge in this section. The Northern Railway has devised its own technique for better riding quality with reinforced concrete piers for all viaducts, long-welded tracks laid on heavier rails and ballast-less tracks in tunnels with proper ventilation. The Udhampur district in Jammu and Kashmir has a significant place in the country. This is where the Vaishno Devi shrine is located. It attracts lakhs of devotees round the year. This rail link between Jammu and Udhampur will make the pilgrimage easy for those devotees who cannot make it due to the arduous bus journey from Jammu at present. It will be made still easier when Udhampur will be linked with Katra by train, the base camp of the Vaishno Devi Temple. The 25 km-long rail link is likely to be completed by March next year. Nearly 25 lakh cubic metres of earthwork out of a total of about 40 lakh cubic metres has been completed. While the work on 6 bridges has been completed, the construction of 4 bridges is in progress. There will be nine major bridges on this stretch. One of them has been completed. This is the first station on the prestigious 140 km-long Katra -Qazigund section, which is 1728 metres above sea level. The entire alignment from Katra to Baramulla in the Kashmir Valley has been completed. The whole project is estimated to cost Rs.3564.78 crore. The construction and maintenance cost of the railways in Jammu and Kashmir is very high compared to the plains. The construction work of the railway station at Srinagar is now in full swing. It will be completed by March next year. The Railways proposes to operate local trains on the Qazigund - Srinagar- Baramulla section until the Katra - Qazigund line is completed. The day is not far when the people in Kashmir would enjoy riding trains. The Constitution of India envisages full integration of all its people on the touchstone of their oneness despite their cultural, linguistic and religious diversities. Keeping this in views, the Jammu - Udhampur- Katra- Qazigund- Srinagar- Baramulla rail link will go a long way in integrating the people of Jammu and Kashmir, the strategically important border State, into the national mainstream.

 

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