Indian Railways’ Udhampur Srinagar Baramulla Rail Link: The Udhampur – Srinagar – Baramulla Rail Link (USBRL) is a national project undertaken by the Indian Railways authorities for the construction of broad-gauge (BG) railway line through the Himalayas in order to provide connectivity of the Kashmir region with rest of the country. The railway line will be an all-weather, convenient, and cost-effective mass transportation system and will act as a catalyst for the overall development of the northernmost alpine region of the country. The construction of the first three phases of the railway project has been completed and the line is in operational use for the running of trains between Baramulla-Banihal in Kashmir valley and Jammu-Udhampur-Katra in the Jammu region.
The work on the intervening 111 km section of Katra-Banihal is ongoing and is the most challenging portion due to its geology and extensive riverine system with deep gorges. Recently, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal asked the engineers working on the project to expedite the remaining portion on a mission mode. In order to ensure that there is no delay in the construction of the line, the minister also instructed them to complete the procurement of materials as well as permission procedures on time.
Meanwhile, several sets of tunneling machinery and cranes have been imported across the mountain ranges for the project. Presently, 95 or cent arch work of Chenab Bridge is complete, while work is in full swing on the Anji Khad bridge- Indian Railways first asymmetric cable-stayed bridge. The Anji Khad Bridge stands at a height of 331 metres above the river bed and its total length is 473.25 metres. The bridge is designed to handle heavy storms of strong winds due to the high altitude. As the geology of the region is extremely treacherous, an arch bridge is impossible to be constructed.