In a significant stride forward for the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Link (USBRL) project, the Northern Railways conducted a successful trial run of an electric train from Banihal to the Kharri section on Tuesday (5 December).
The 16-km Banihal-Khari segment forms part of the 111-km-long final phase of the USBRL project, connecting Banihal to Katra.
Engineers of Ircon International Limited, engaged by Northern Railway for the USBRL Project, informed that the 25 KV railway electrification (ROCS) work between Banihal and Khari stations was completed.
Additionally, the first trial run of an electric engine with six coaches was also successfully conducted by Northern Railway Firozpur division.
The 272-km Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Link aims to connect Kashmir Valley with the rest of the country by a broad-gauge railway line. In view of the importance of the USBRL in providing seamless and hassle-free connectivity to Kashmir, it was declared as a “National Project” in 2002.
The rail link project which tackles the demanding Himalayan terrain, has been divided into four segments, namely, Udhampur-Katra, Katra-Banihal, Banihal-Qazigund, and Qazigund-Baramulla.
The first leg, covering a distance of 25 kilometres from Udhampur to Katra, was successfully completed and commissioned in July 2014.
Leg-3, extending 18 kilometres from Banihal to Qazigund involving Pir Panjal Tunnel, was completed and opened to traffic in June 2013.
The last leg (Leg-4) spanning a formidable 118 kilometres from Qazigund to Baramulla, was completed in three phases, with the last phase commissioned in October 2009.
Work on the intervening 111-kilometre stretch from Katra to Banihal as part of Leg 2 is currently in progress. This section is the most challenging portion for construction due to its geology and extensive riverine system with deep gorges.
With the Banihal-Khari section getting ready for operation, it is expected that the Katra-Banihal line will be operationalised by January 2024.
“We are working round the clock to finish pending works on three important stations Khari, Sumber and Sangaldan on the Katra-Banihal track in Ramban district. We are expecting that rail will chug soon on the Katra-Banihal section,” said a Northern Railway official.