In three months, Kashmir valley is likely to be connected to Jammu through a 17.8-km railway line including the 11.2-km Pir Panjal tunnel, which is the country’s longest transport tunnel.
The commissioning of this section will provide connectivity throughout the year and reduce travel time. The total distance between Banihal in Jammu to Qazigund in Kashmir Valley will then be covered in 20-25 minutes, stated State-owned Ircon International. At present, it takes about an hour to cover the distance by road, which gets blocked due to snowfall during peak winter.
The stratetigally important tunnel is likely to be opened for public in March, Ircon’s Director (Works) Hitesh Khanna said.
On December 28, Ircon completed the track work from Qazigund to Banihal across the Pir Panjal range through Tunnel T-80 and brought the first train on trial run from Kashmir Valley to Banihal, said a release.
The rail-link project between the two places, with a cost of Rs 1,670 crore, is part of Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla railway-link project. Ircon has been the principal executing agency for Northern Railway for this project, an agreement for which was signed in 2004. The work includes planning, survey, design and construction of the entire project.