Saturday, October 11, 2008

Kashmir gets its first train..An Engineering feat

For people who have studied the time line of Kashmir railway line, it appears rather pathetic that the project has always been involved in bureaucratic delays. This project, however, is a real arduous task because it has to be realized by passing through some of the toughest terrains in the world - The Pir Panjal Range of the Himalayas.

Jammu and Kashmir people have never seen a railway track in their state. Till 2004, it was cut off from the rest of the country. Way back in 1980's, Indira Gandhi laid the foundation stone for connecting Jammu to Baramulla in Kashmir. However, geo-technical problems and funding delayed the project till 2001 when Vajpayee made the project as National Project which means no matter what happens the project will have continuous flow of funds till completion. So, work began at a war footing pace.

The entire 300 km railway track connects North to South of J&K and is divided into following tracks:
  • 55 km Jammu Udhampur (already functional)
  • 25 km Udhampur Katra-Vaishov Devi (most challenging and yet in construction)
  • 140 km Katra Qazigund (The toughest track to be made and don't know if will be made ever)
  • 66 km Qazigund Srinagar (functional now as inaugurated today)
  • 60 km Srinagar Baramulla (will be opened soon)

Udhampur railway station above

The 2.5 km long tunnel (required great engineering skills to make this tunnel and is immune to landslides)

Finally, Jammu-Udhampur railway link was open in May 2005 by Lalu Prasad Yadav...Here is an article which describes the journey through the railway line by an Indian express journalist

First, salient features:

53 km track connecting Jammu to Udhampur Cost: 550 crore 20 tunnels, 158 bridges, has a 2.5 km tunnel longer than NH1 (Jammu-Srinagar highway) Gambhir bridge is an engineering feat and is 77m above sea level.

Here's the video of Gambir bridge which is higher than even Qutub Minar

Now, coming to Kashmir:

The Katra (Vaishov Devi)- Qazigund is a 140 km railway track that is the most challenging and has been constantly delayed because the soil is loose and making tracks on such high altitudes is a very daunting task. This line however is not yet opened and not sure if it will open even in 2010. However, Qazigund-Baramulla link will be opened soon which is abt 120 km of which 66 km Budgam to Anantnag track has been opened. It is historic because it passes through Budgam, Anantnag, Srinagar. Srinagar will get the first railway track ever since 1947. The salient features include:

The info below is taken from here

The Valley train has a specially designed 1,400-horse power engine and an auxiliary engine that will generate heat to keep the engine and its lubricants from freezing. It will also pump hot air into the coaches to keep passengers warm. The railways has also developed its own snow-cutting "cattle guard" for the engine so that the train runs in sub-zero temperatures without any problem.

  • The main engine has a sleek aerodynamic profile with fibre reinforced plastic. The driver's cabin will be provided with a single glass screen to give a wider view. Along with "cab heating," the driver's screen has an inbuilt de-snowing and de-fogging unit.
  • The "snow-cutting type cattle guard" has been developed by the Rail Coach Factory, Kapurthala, to clear snow from tracks during winter. "This will enable the train to run even in the absence of snow-cutting machines," a senior Northern Railway official said.
  • Each coach has a capacity to seat 90 persons. Each coach has a 900-mm wide door to enable easier entry and exit.
  • They will also have sliding doors like the ones in the Delhi Metro. The coaches have roof-mounted heating units, necessary during the severe winters.
  • The heating units will keep the temperature at a constant level of 20 degrees Celsius. The windows will be wide, made of unbreakable splinter proof polycarbonate sheet, to provide a "breathtaking panoramic view of the Kashmir valley," the railway official added.
  • The coaches have been provided with pneumatic suspension for better riding comfort and fitted with executive chair cars with fire resistant grade upholstery and a reclining mechanism. The coaches will have a public information system with display and automatic announcement features just like the Delhi Metro.
The best part is Qazigund Srinagar train which has been equipped with some of the latest equipments and machinery that can withstand extreme low temperatures.

The most important effect will be on the livelihood of the people which will get better. There are several people who can use. Look at the price. Jammu udhampur or even Anantnag Budgam is Rs.15 one way which is so affordable to the common man there. The rail links will also connect J&K to the rest of the country once Katra-Qazigund is opened.

Images courtesy: Skyscraper and Wikipedia


Aanchal Chaudhary said...

Oh oh oh cooool!!! I love this! Thank you for sharing this blog!!
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Anonymous said...

Kashmir Tunnels - India's greatest achievement in complex tunnel engineering -

Have a look