Annual Budget Allocation for Rail Infrastructure Projects in J&K increased by Five times this Year

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The annual budget for infrastructure and safety works in J&K has increased five-fold this year. Between 2009 and 2014, the budget outlay for infrastructure projects in J&K stood at Rs 1044 crores per year, indicating a significant increase. Ashwini Vaishnaw, Minister for Railways, told the House that in the financial year 2022-23, the budget was increased to Rs 6003 crore, which is five times higher than the previous year.

The new line in the state of Jammu and Kashmir is being constructed as part of Union of India Rail Link (USBRLl) Project. The total length of this project is 272 km, of which 161 km has already been allocated. The work on the 111 km Katra Banihal section has started. The estimated cost of this section is Rs 37.012 crore, out of which Rs 34.261 crore have been spent till March 2023. The total outlay of this project is Rs 5.310 crore for the financial year 2023. The railway authorities claim that this project is probably the most challenging new railway line in the country after independence. The terrain of this section passes through the youthful Himalayas with many geological surprises and many challenges. This section mainly consists of tunnelling with 97.42 km (87%) of the length of the Katra- Banihal section being in tunnels. The maximum length of T-49 tunnel will be 12.77 km which will be the longest transportation rail tunnel in the nation. Railway has constructed the world’s highest Railway bridge over the river Chenab in Reasi.

The minister went on saying that he iconic Chenab Bridge is 1315 m long having Arch span of 467m and height of 359 m above river bed. Indian Railway’s first cable stayed bridge has been constructed over Anji Khad. Its bridge deck is 331m above the river bed level and height of its Main pylon is 193 m. Final Location Survey (FLS) has been sanctioned including Doubling of Baramulla-Banihal section (135.5km), New Line of Baramulla-Uri (50km). New Line of Sopore-Kupwara (33.7km), New Line of Awantipora-Shopian (27.6km) and New Line of Anantnag-Bijbehara-Pahalgam (77.5km). The USBRL Project has made substantial socio-economic contributions to the region, with employment generation being a significant aspect of its impact. The project has generated more than 553 lakh man-days of indirect employment so far. Another crucial facet of the project’s socio-economic development efforts has been the construction of over 215 km of approach roads, which include construction of a tunnel and 320 small bridges.

At present, nine pairs of trains are running over Kashmir valley section due to which travel time of passengers has been reduced and travel experience has also become more comfortable than bus services. The passenger services and facilities are being improved by major redevelopment of Jammu Tawi Railway Station. To enhance travel experience of passengers, a Vistadome Coach is attached to a special train being run in the Kashmir Valley. A Guest House operated by Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Limited is available at Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Katra Railway Station. The trains plying between Baramulla and Banihal are being escorted by Railway Protection Force Staff.

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