Railways to reach China border in Ladakh with world's highest rail lines | 10 points
Indian Railways is moving fast to connect Ladakh with New Delhi through rail lines by expediting work on the strategically significant Bilaspur-Manali-Leh broad-gauge rail line. The location survey of the first phase is complete. The final location survey is expected to be completed in 30 months after which a detailed project report will be finalised.
Railways has proposed it to be declared a national project. It is the most difficult project undertaken by the railways till date given the terrain over which the tracks have to be laid. Railways has suggested that construction on a 51 kilometre stretch between Upshi in Himachal Pradesh and Phe in Leh should begin immediately.
10 things to know about Ladakh railway project
1) The Bilaspur-Manali-Leh railway line is estimated to cost Rs 83,360 crore. It is a 465-km railway line. It would be the highest railway tracks in the world when complete. At its highest point, the tracks would be at 5,360 metres above sea level. It is comparable only to the Qinghai-Tibet Railway Line in China, which is at a height of around 2,000 metres above sea level.
2) There would be 30 stations on the new line taking Railways closer to India-China border in Ladakh. The important locations to be connected en route between Bilaspur and Leh are Sundernagar, Mandi, Manali, Keylong, Koksar, Darcha, Upshi and Karu in the states of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.
3) This line is expected to help the armed forces, boost tourism and give a major push to development in Ladakh region. If the Railways' proposal of it declaring a national project is accepted by the government, the Centre would be providing most of the funds making the job easier.
4) Of total 465 km length, 52 per cent would go through tunnels, the longest of which would be 27 km long. Total length of the tunnels would be 244 km. According to the first phase of the survey, the railway line will have 74 tunnels, 124 major bridges and 396 minor bridges.
5) The railway line connecting Bilaspur with Leh would emerge from Bhanu Palli railway station on the Anandpur Sahib route. It is a rugged terrain in an area that is prone to landslides. Oxygen level reduces at this altitude and temperature drops to sub-zero levels.
6) According to Chief Administrative Officer (Construction) of Northern Railway Alok Kumar, the Bilaspur-Manali-Leh rail line project is more difficult than the one undertaken by the department in Jammu and Kashmir previously.
7) The final location survey is being undertaken at a cost of Rs 457.72 crore, he said. It would be completed in three phases - digital evaluation of elevation model, selection of path for better alignment and geographical survey for bridges and tunnels.
8) When complete, trains on Bilaspur-Manali-Leh line would run at a speed of 75 kmph. It will reduce the distance between Delhi to Leh from the present 40 hours to 20 hours.
9) BJP MP from Leh Thupstan Chhewang had written a letter to the Minister of Railways seeking the Ladhak railway project to be accorded the status of a national project.
10) The 51-km stretch between Upshi and Leh has a gentle gradient compared to the rest of the project. It is likely to take two years for completion with an estimated cost of Rs 5,000 crore.