Indian Railways is expecting to complete the remaining work on the Udhampur-Katra Rail line in a month to reach another milestone on the ambitious Kashmir rail link project.
Operation on this route will require clearance from the Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS) and officials suggested early January deadline for traffic to start.
"Once this route becomes operational, we can consider issuing ticket for a journey between Kanyakumari to Kashmir," Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge told The Pioneer. The toughest job on the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Link (USBRL), a national project, is to build a rail network of more than 100 km between Katra and Banihal, the last point of Jammu region. The present progress on this section is about 13 per cent.
"We are thinking of a situation where passenger from down south will reach Katra through rail and will then undertake a road journey to the next station in Kashmir valley. Passenger desirous of going to Srinagar or Baramulla will then board the train again. Our concept is to issue a single ticket for both the train and the road journey," Kharge said.
Train services are presently available between Baramulla and Banihal in the Valley region and between Jammu and Udhampur. Udhampur-Katra section is 25 km long and involves about 11 km of tunneling, 9 major bridges, 29 minor bridges and 10 ROB/RUBs in addition to about 38.86 lac cubic meter of earthwork. The approximate cost of this stretch is Rs 928 crore. The tallest bridge in this section is 85m high and the longest tunnel is 3.15 km long.
The Jammu-Udhampur-Katra-Quazigund-Baramulla Railway line is the biggest project in the construction of a mountain railway since independence. From Jammu to Baramulla, length of the new rail line is 345 km. The work on Jammu-Udhampur section (53 Km) has been completed and opened to public in April, 2005.
The Railway Minister also said that the department was planning to invite fresh tender from interested firms to provide catering services on the train. "To make catering services better we have made mandatory certain technical qualifications, like having a base kitchen, mandatory this time," Kharge said.
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