Indian Railways is very soon going to set new records- The highest rail tracks in the world. Now, fast-moving railway tracks will connect New Delhi to Leh. Declared as a national project, it is one of the most difficult projects Indian railways has ever attempted, given the difficult terrain.
The work on the strategically significant Bilaspur-Manali-Leh broad-gauge rail line is to begin soon. The first phase, location survey is complete. Within the next 30 months, the final location survey is expected to be completed. Therefore, the detailed project report will be finalized.
The proposed rail track will cover 465km-route, which will have 30 stations. While, the 51 km stretch between Upshi in Himachal Pradesh and Phe in Leh will begin construction immediately, the entire project will require around 3 years.
Here are the highlights of the dream Indian Railways’ project
The highly ambitious 465-km Bilaspur-Manali-Leh railway line is estimated to cost INR 83,360 crore. On its completion, it would be the highest railway tracks in the world at an impressive 5,360 metres above sea level. The new track will break the record of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway Line in China, at a height of around 2,000 metres above sea level.
The proposal to declare the Indian Railways’ project as a National project was the idea of BJP MP from Leh Thupstan Chhewang. He requested the Central Government as well as the Railways for the status, as this would ease the availability of funds. As, on completion of this track Ladakh will benefit widely, it is of concern to the people there. Also if the centre understands the importance the project will be easier by all means, of funds, resources and more.
The new railway track will be quite close to India-China Border in Ladakh. 30 stations are planned on the route. On the line between Bilaspur and Leh, the important places are Sundernagar, Mandi, Manali, Keylong, Koksar, Darcha, Upshi and Karu in the states of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.
While the track will aid the armed forces posted on the India-Ladakh border, in addition it will boost tourism and also bring development in the region of Ladakh.
This is the most challenging projects ever undertaken by India Railways. Chief Administrative Officer (Construction) of Northern Railway Alok Kumar stated that the Bilaspur-Manali-Leh rail line project was even more difficult than the previous challenge in Jammu and Kashmir.
According to the statists of the completed first phase of the survey, the track will have 47 tunnels, 124 bridges along 396 minor suspensions. Of the 465 km length track, tunnels would be 244km. In fact, 52 per cent of the entire track. The longest among which would be around 27 km.
The survey further states that for the terrain prone to landslides, along with low oxygen levels owing to the subzero temperatures there will be specially-designed tunnels. The track connecting Bilaspur with Leh would pass through Bhanu Palli railway station on the Anandpur Sahib route.
Reports have revealed that the final location survey of the project will cost around INR 457.72 crore. The estimated three phases include digital evaluation of elevation model, selection of path for better alignment and geographical survey for bridges and tunnels.
On completion the Bilaspur-Manali-Leh line track will have trains that would run at a speed of 75 kmph. Also, the time taken to travel from Delhi to Leh will be reduced to half. The surface travel which takes 40 hours presently will take only 20 hours.
Of the entire 465 km line, the 51-km stretch between Upshi and Leh has a gentle gradient compared to the rest of the project. Hence, it is estimated to take two years at an approximate cost of INR 5,000 crore.