Kashmir railway breakthrough22 December 2010
There has been a second tunnel breakthrough reported on the 148-km Katra-Qazigund (Leg 2) section of the Kashmir railway to link Jammu with Srinigar and Baramulla on the north-western edge of the Kashmir Valley. This project is officially called the Jammu Udhampur Srinigar Baramulla Railway Link (JUSBRL) and has been declared a National Project, meaning that it will be completed ‘whatever the cost’. Before this declaration in 2002, progress had been sporadic.
The second Sandalgam tunnel is 1.48km long and is located in the Ramban district. The single, horseshoe section passage was driven by drill and blast from both ends and took 28 months in ‘difficult’ geology. The first (1.67 km-long) tunnel in this section was completed July 2010.
The project is managed is by the Konkan Railway Corp (KRCL) and includes 47 tunnels with a total length of 58km. The longest are 5.3 km and 5.9 km long. Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam (SJVNL) was appointed as consultant dealing with geotechnical engineering, geological mapping, tunnel support design if required, concrete lining, portal design, testing the sprayed and cast concrete mixes. Work on this leg had been cancelled in 2008 by the Ministry of Railways due to suspected geological instability, followed by a reconsideration of the alignment. Work resumed in June 2009 with minor alignment changes and additional geological tests.
See also Tunnels & Tunnelling International Feb 2010 pp 23-26 for a description of the Pir Panjal tunnel work on the same route.
Trains are already running on the first 119 km-long Baramulla to Qazigund (Leg 3) section of the railway since inauguration in October 2009. Leg 0, from Jammu to Udhampur was completed in 2005. The Katra-Qazigund section opening has now been rescheduled to 2017, thus completing the whole route. The remaining Leg 1 is expected to be completed next year (2012). The route construction is facing seismic activity in difficult geology and mountainous terrain, extremes of temperature, and security problems.