Banihal-Qazigund section of Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramullah Rail link Project has been completed by Northern Railway and is likely to be opened for public very soon after statutory inspection by Commissioner of Railway Safety for running passenger trains. Trial run on this section was successfully done on 28.12.12 and since then ballast trains are running on regular basis.
Banihal-Qazigund section is 17.730 Kms long out of which 6.514 Km portion is on cutting and embankment including bridges and 11.215 Kms is through tunnel. About 11, 78,500.00 cubic meters of earthwork in cutting and filling has been done. The maximum depth of cutting is 15.20 meters and maximum height of embankment is 16.70 meters. 39 nos. of bridges have been constructed in this section which include two major bridges, 30 nos. of minor bridges and 7 nos. of ROBs/RUBs. The total expenditure of Rs. 1691.00 Crores has been incurred by the railways to complete this section.
The section consists of only one tunnel i.e. Pir Panjal Tunnel which is 11.215 Km long. This tunnel is longest transportation tunnel in Indiaand third longest in Asia. The tunnel has been constructed with total cost of Rs.1300.00 Crores. Almost seven years have been taken by Railways to complete this tunnel. About 7,500 Metric Tonnes of steel, 3, 28,000 cubic meters of concrete has been used and10,00,000 cubic meters of underground excavation has been done to complete the tunnel. 1300 workers and 150 engineers worked round the clock to accomplish this challenging task.
In order to expedite the work on this tunnel by creating more working faces, one Adit of 772.00 meter length and one Shaft of 56.00 meter depth and 11.00 meter diameter was constructed. The tunnel has been constructed by NATM (New Austrian Tunnelling Method) which was firstly used on such large scale in India. This method optimizes the tunnel design by mobilizing the inherent ground strength in adopting a curved section, providing primary support system immediately after the excavation and monitoring the ground behavior while permitting it to develop its inherent strength. Maximum overburden on this tunnel is 1100 meters and bore holes up to 640 meters depth were drilled for Geotechnical investigations. A 3.0 meters wide road has been provided inside the tunnel for maintenance, emergency rescue and relief operations. The tunnel has been made water proof by providing continuous PVC membrane between primary and secondary lining. The tunnel has been equipped with the State of the Art air quality monitoring system, ventilation system, communication system, fire fighting system and emergency rescue system in case of emergency. Ballastless Track system has been provided inside the tunnel which is pollution and maintenance free with very good riding quality. By adoption of these systems, Pir Panjal tunnel will be totally dry, pollution free, safe, comfortable and completely illuminated.
Opening of Banihal-Qazigund railway section will connect Jammu Division with Kashmir Division of Jammu & Kashmir State. This section will have two main railway stations i.e. Banihal in Jammu Division & Qazigund in Kashmir Division. In addition to these a halt station is also being provided at Hillar village in Anantnag district which is about 4 Km from Qazigund station for the convenience of local public as per their demand.
Now a day a lot of problems are being faced by passengers travelling between Banihal and Qazigund due to closure of Jawahar Tunnel in winter season owing to heavy snow fall. During this winter also one way movement of vehicles was resorted to between twin capital cities of Jammu & Srinagar on National Highway alongwith sudden closures for almost four months from Dec’12 to Mar’13 owing to heavy snowfall and slippery conditions leading to a lot of inconvenience to stranded passengers. All these problems will be reduced to a large extent by running of train services between Banihal-Qazigund. Moreover the distance between Banihal and Qazigund will also be reduced from 35 Km road length to 17.729 Kms railway line. It will be a cheaper, faster and dependable mode of transport.