The Indian Railways is on the brink of a significant accomplishment as it’s nearing completion of the Udhampur-Baramulla rail link project. Once completed, it will seamlessly connect the Kashmir Valley with the rest of the country.
Work on this project is progressing rapidly, with more than 95 percent of the 272 km Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla rail link project (USBRL) has been finished.
Once operational, this direct train service will reduce travel time between Srinagar and Jammu from six hours to a mere 3.5 hours, which will provide a substantial relief for commuters.
The USBRL project holds economic promise as well, which will facilitate transportation of goods via train. Particularly, the conveyance of horticulture items, such as apples and various agricultural products from Jammu and Kashmir is expected to benefit the local economy significantly.
The ambitious USBRL project involves intricate construction across challenging Himalayan terrain, featuring numerous tunnels and bridges. Vinod Kumar, the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Northern Railways, expressed confidence that the project would be completed as scheduled, with an inauguration planned for December 2023 or January 2024.
Also, there are reports that the government is planning to introduce Vande Bharat Metro train service between Jammu and Srinagar. Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw revealed plans for a Vande Bharat Express train maintenance facility in Central Kashmir’s Budgam district. Once the rail network is completed, the Vande Bharat Metro will be launched.
The USBRL project stretching over 119 km in length, will feature 38 tunnels, with the longest being T-49 at 12.75 km, marking it as India’s lengthiest transportation tunnel. The initiative also encompasses 927 bridges, including the iconic Chenab Bridge, the world’s highest steel arch rail bridge at 359 meters above the Chenab River.
In a bid to enhance connectivity, the Indian Railways plans to introduce three additional Vande Bharat Express trains designated for Jammu and Kashmir during the fiscal year 2023-24. The launch date remains unspecified though. Existing stations will be utilized initially, with the possibility of establishing more stations as per demand.