Ferozepur (Punjab): The Banihal-Qazigund section of the Udhampur-Baramullah-Srinagar rail route, on which a trial run was conducted on Friday, is ready for the movement of trains, the Railways on Saturday announced.

N C Goyal, Divisional Railway Manager of Ferozepur Division under the jurisdiction of which the rail route falls, said the project will be dedicated to the public soon.

Goyal said work on the 17.73 km-long Banihal-Qazigund section saw construction of Asia's second longest rail tunnel cutting through the Pir Panjal range of Himalayas. He said about 11.785 lakh cubic meters of earthwork has been done to complete the rail section that will pass through 39 bridges, including two major bridges and 30 minor bridges.

"It took almost seven years and an investment of Rs 1,300 crore to complete the Pir Panjal tunnel alone in which about 7,500 metric tonnes of steel, besides 3.28 lakh cubic meters of concrete has been pumped in," the DRM said.

He said 10 lakh cubic meters of underground excavation had to be undertaken to complete the tunnel. A three meter wide road has also been provided inside the water-proof tunnel for maintenance, emergency rescue and relief operations, he said.

Besides, the tunnel has also been equipped with modern facilities of air quality monitoring, ventilation, communication, fire fighting and emergency rescue. Ballastless Track System has also been provided inside the tunnel which will be pollution and maintenance free, he said.

Once the train operation begins, the distance between Banihal and Qazigund will be reduced from 35 km to 17.73 kms, he said.

(Agencies)

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