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Train to Kashmir: the engineering spectacle in plan

Submitted by aurora on Tue, 2008-04-15 12:07

India is undertaking one of its most challenging railway projects ever by building a line to connect the state of Jammu and Kashmir with the Himalayan foothills. Far from being an ordinary scheme, the 290 km route crosses major earthquake zones, and is subjected to extreme temperatures of cold and heat, as well as inhospitable terrain.The Kashmir Railway has been under construction since 1994 by various railway companies in India. They have been engaged in building one of the most spectacular railway lines in the world. When completed this line will link the city of Jammu in the Northern plains of India with city of Srinagar in the Himalayan Valleys and beyond. ..This project has had a long and chequered history but as of 2006 serious progress is being made after it was declared a National Priority Project in 2001. Planned date of completion was August 15, 2007, but several unforeseen complications have pushed back the final completion deadline to some time in 2009. The Banihal tunnel is scheduled for completion only in 2011, hence further delays are likely.Kashmir has long been separated from India by a lack of suitable transport routes. Currently the only way to reach the area is by a hairpin-road journey. The area also sparks many political debates, as Kashmiri's are not sure what they want and outside forces interfere with progress. The 290 km extension of the Indian Railway network will allow a 900 km (560 mile) journey direct from Delhi in India to Srinagar, the capital of Jammu and Kashmir.Constructing the railway route to this isolated region has involved significant engineering challenges, and although the first short section has a 2007 opening date, other major structures are two years behind.The alignment for the Kashmir Railway presents one of the greatest railway engineering challenges ever faced, with the only contest coming from the recently completed China-Tibet rail route which crosses permanently frozen ground and climbs to more than 5,000m above sea level. Whilst the temperatures of the Kashmir Railway area are not as severe as China, it does still experience extreme winters with heavy snowfalls. However, making the route even more complex is the requirement to pass through the Himalayan foothills and the mighty Pir Panjal with most peaks exceeding 15,000 feet (4,600 m) in height.The route includes many bridges, viaducts and tunnels – the lower section of the railway crosses a total of 158 bridges and passes through 20 tunnels, the longest of which is 11 km (six miles) in length. The greatest single engineering challenge is the crossing of the Chenab which involves building a bridge 359 m above the river bed, 1,315m long.This bridge will be the highest railway structure of its kind in the world, 35 m higher than the tip of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Both bridges are to be simple span bridges. Cor-Ten Steel is planned to be used to provide an environment friendly appearance and eliminate the need to paint the bridge. The design and structure is very similar to the New River Gorge Bridge

Road connectivity in Kashmir: The Srinagar -Leh national highway.

It is being project managed by the Konkan Railway Construction between Salal and Laole stations. Completion is scheduled for 2009, two years after the first isolated section of the route is due to open for local passenger services, and it requires the use of 26,000t of steel.All tunnels including the New Banihal Tunnel will be constructed using the New Austrian Tunneling method. Numerous challenges have been encountered while tunneling through the geologically young and unstable Shivalik mountains. In particular water ingress problems have been seen in the Udhampur to Katra section. This has required some drastic soltions using steel arches and several feet of shotcreteEven though the line is being built through a mountainous region, a ruling gradient of 1% has been set to provide a safe, smooth and reliable journey. More importantly Bankers will not be required making the journey quicker and smoother. It will be built to the Indian standard gauge of 1,676 mm gauge, laid on concrete sleepers with continuous welded rail and with a minimum curve radius of 676 m. Maximum line speed will be 100 km/h (60 mph). Provision for future doubling will be made on the major bridges. Additionally provisions for future electrification will be made, though the line will be operated with diesel locomotives initially. Kashmir is an electricity scarce region at present. There will be 30 stations on the full route, served by 10–12 trains per day initially.The Kashmir line will connect with the Indian Railways railhead at Jammu, where a 60 km access route has been built to Udhampur. The main sections of the route are between Udhampur and Qazigund – 75% in tunnels and the responsibility of Konkan Railway Construction Corporation – with the Qazigund-Baramulla section being constructed by Indian Railways.

Ever heard of a train running on a road? It does in Jammu and Kashmir

Set to chug in Kashmir's bewitching landscape in snowy February 2007, the first-ever trial train to Kashmir took off for the Valley on Tuesday not on traditional tracks but on the 300 km-long Jammu-Srinagar national highway, adding another historic chapter to the Rs 4,700 crore Jammu-Udhampur-Qazigund-Srinagar-Baramulla national rail project. "It is addition of another chapter to the history of Indian Railways and Kashmir's national rail project, as the first trial diesel mobile unit coach on Tuesday left for Kashmir's Budgam railway station by taking a road route and not a train track from Jammu railway station," Divisional Mechinical Engineer (Northern Railways) Shiv Ram told PTI. Soon after the 36-wheeled train pulled by a 460 HP special engine drove up the Jammu-Srinagar highway at 0700 hours, Ram said, "It sounds incredible, but the train is running on the highway from Jammu to Badgam via Srinagar. It has happened for the first time in the history of the Indian Railways that a DMU has run on a road." Amid chanting of mantras and showering of flowers, the train, fitted with 36 big truck wheels, zig-zagged through serpentine road as people watched it chugging on the highway along with trucks and buses. Struck by surprise as the train criss-crossed the highway, onlookers on roads, in buses and from houses thronging the road stood dumbfounded. "The only difference is that these trains are equipped not with normal iron wheels but with special truck tyres," Ram said. Such a spectacle, a rare feat of engineering, will become a reality as first of 24 coaches left for Budgam railway station in central Kashmir. This has been made possible by replacing iron wheels of the coaches with truck tyres, which will be pulled by a trailer-truck having 460 HP specially designed engine, he said. Feeling himself as a man walking into the history of Indian Railways and Kashmir rail project, driver of train Joginder Singh was a happy and proud person. Hailing from Bihar's Fazipora district, Singh said, "I have done Railways proud by carrying a most invaluable gift to Kashmiris." Determined to carry all the 24 wagons to Kashmir valley for facilitating commencement of train traffic in valley in February next year, Singh said: "I will drive this train to Kashmir in anyway and this would be a small step in integrating Kashmir with rest of the country through rail traffic. I have carried many heavy equipment and other items to difficult hilly and treacherous road tracks across India including Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, but this driving a train on kashmir hills is a challenge, a milestone to cross." Ram said once the coaches reached Badam railway yard, the truck tyres will be replaced by iron wheels for a normal run on rail tracks. Roads have been widened by cutting the corners wherever needed for the movement of this special vehicle, he added.

I got some Positive note from some different websites about Kashmir. I am so much hopeful for Kashmir. Sharing here some news and articles with courtesy to those websites:

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