Jammu/Mumbai: An engineering marvel was unveiled Friday when the Indian Railways opened a 10.96-km long railway tunnel, the longest in the country, that will help connect the Kashmir Valley with the rest of the country, a company release said.
The tunnel, which connects the Jammu region to the Kashmir Valley at Banihal, about 190 km from Jammu, was constructed at the cost of Rs.391 crore, according to Hindustan Construction Corporation (HCC) project manger S. Yala.
The construction took six years. “The engineering work included construction of a tunnel having a finished width of 8.405 metres and height of 7.393 metres with a provision of three-metre wide concrete road inside the tunnel throughout the length for maintenance and emergency relief purpose,” the company said, adding, “It also required 772 metres long access tunnel section.”
According to an HCC statement in Mumbai, the tunnel, part of the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla rail link project of the Indian Railways, passes nearly half a kilometre below the existing Jawahar road tunnel through the rugged Pir Panjal mountains in Jammu and Kashmir. The tunnel aims at reducing the travel distance between Quazigund to Banihal to only 11 km and providing a hassle-free travel up to Baramulla.
The HCC faces a tough task going through the changing geological strata of the young Himalayan rock, and adopted the New Australian Tunneling Methodology (NATM) for the construction, the statement said.
The project also became extremely challenging as the area sees heavy snowfall in winter, bringing the temperatures down to minus 10 degrees Celsius.