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PM Modi flags off railway project in Jammu and Kashmir

Context:

  • Recently Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Banihal-Sangaldan sectionof the railway line which aims to connect Baramulla in North Kashmir to Udhampur in Jammu.
  • PM also flagged off Jammu and Kashmir’s first electric train from Sangaldan to Srinagar and Baramulla.

The Banihal-Sangaldan railway line:

  • More than 90 per cent of the 48-km railway line between Banihal to Sangaldan passes through tunnels in the mountainous Ramban district which include the country’s longest 12.77-km tunnel (T-50).
  • It also has 16 bridges. For the safety and rescue of passengers in emergencies, it also has three escape tunnels with a combined length of 30.1 km.

History of railways in Jammu and Kashmir:

  • The first railway line in the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir was built by the British in the year 1897 over a distance of 40-45 km between Jammu and Sialkot in the plains.
  • In 1902 and 1905, a railway line was proposed between Rawalpindi and Srinagar along the course of the Jhelum, that would have connected the Kashmir Valley with the railway network of undivided India.
  • But Maharaja Pratap Singh of Jammu and Kashmir was in favour of a Jammu-Srinagar line via Reasi, and none of the project progressed.
  • After Partition, Sialkot went to Pakistan, and also Jammu was disconnected from the rail network of India.
  • Until the inauguration of the Pathankot-Jammu line in the year 1975, the railway station nearest to Jammu and Kashmir was Pathankot in Punjab.
  • In 1983, work began on a railway line which was between Jammu and Udhampur.
  • The 53-km line, estimated to cost Rs 50 crore, was supposed to be completed in five years, but ultimately took nearly 21 years and Rs 515 crore.
  • The project, which was completed only in the year 2004, has 20 major tunnels, the longest of which is 2.5 km long, and 158 bridges, the highest of which is 77 m high.
  • With work underway on the Jammu-Udhampur line, the Centre in 1994 announced the extension of the line from Udhampur to Srinagar, and then to Baramulla.
  • This was the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Railwayline (USBRL) project, which was approved in March 1995 at an estimated cost of about Rs 2,500 crore.
  • The project got momentum after 2002, when Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee declared it a national project on account of its being among the most challenging works undertaken by the Indian Railways after the Independence.
  • The line will connect Srinagar and Baramulla in the Valley with the rest of the country by train, and will also provide a reliable and cost-effective all-weather alternative to the Jammu-Srinagar national highway that is frequently shut down due to landslides.

The post PM Modi flags off railway project in Jammu and Kashmir appeared first on Vajirao IAS.

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