Survey of Bilaspur-Manali-Leh railway line completed, DPR prepared: GoI

Mohinder Verma

JAMMU, July 26: In a major development, survey of 489 kilometers Bilaspur-Manali-Leh railway line has been completed and Detailed Project Report (DPR) prepared and further necessary action will be taken as early as possible.
This was revealed by Union Railways Minister Ashwani Vaishnaw in the Lok Sabha in response to the question of Member of Parliament from Ladakh Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, who wanted to know whether the Government has initiated the construction of railway projects for the Union Territory of Ladakh.
“Survey of Bilaspur-Manali-Leh new line project (489 kilometers) has been completed and Detailed Project Report has been prepared”, the Minister said, adding “the project has the potential to reshape region’s connectivity”.
Boasting a total of 40 stations, this broad gauge (1676 mm) marvel will traverse through the picturesque landscapes of Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh. With an impressive network of 62 tunnels covering 270 km, 114 major bridges, 90 minor bridges and 54 road under bridges, this project will redefine transportation in the region.
The estimated cost of the project stands at an impressive Rs 99,201.40 cr. There will be 37 road over bridges, 54 road under bridges and length of access roads will be 156 kilometers. There will be electric traction, electronic interlocking and ballast-less track, the Minister further informed the Parliament.
The alignment of Bilaspur-Manali-Leh line starts from Beri passes through major towns of Sundernagar, Mandi, Manali, Sissu, Darcha, Keylong, Sarchu, Pang, Rumtse, Upshi, Kharu and terminates at Leh terminus connecting important towns of Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh.
About Srinagar-Kargil-Leh new line project, the Minister said that survey of this rail line was carried out in 2016-17. As per the survey report, the anticipated cost of the project was Rs 55,896 crore. However, due to low traffic projections, the project could not be taken forward.
Similarly, survey of Pathankot-Leh (664) kilometres new rail line was carried out in 2017-18 and as per the survey report the anticipated cost of the project was Rs 70,308 crores. However, due to low traffic projections, the project could not be taken forward, the Minister further informed the Parliament, adding “nevertheless, the potential of these two projects remains a topic of future deliberations”.
Member of Parliament from Ladakh, while commenting on the reply of the Minister, said, “these remarkable railway initiatives aim to bolster the economic, social and infrastructural landscape of the Union Territory of Ladakh”, adding “by fostering seamless connectivity and enhanced accessibility to vital towns, the projects hold the promise of unlocking unprecedented opportunities for growth and development in the region”.
“As the Government remains committed to exploring innovative solutions for progress, it acknowledges the significance of robust transportation systems for the overall advancement of Ladakh. The forthcoming years are poised to witness transformative developments as the railways pave the way for a brighter future in Ladakh”, the Member Parliament further said.
In reply to another question in the Parliament, the Railways Minister informed that five railway stations in Jammu and Kashmir namely Hiranagar, Kathua, Udhampur and Shri Mata Vaishnodevi Katra and Jammu have been identified for development under Adarsh Station Scheme.
Under the Adarsh Station Scheme, various passenger amenities such as improvement to facade of the station building, retiring room, waiting room (with bathing facilities), separate waiting room for ladies, computer based public address system, signages, pay and use toilets, water coolers, high level platforms, foot over bridges, ramps at entry to station for Divyangjan and senior citizens etc are provided as per the respective category of the station.
“Development/redevelopment/upgradation of railway stations is complex in nature involving safety of passengers and trains and requires various statutory clearances from urban/local bodies etc and these factors affect the completion time. Therefore, no targets have been set. However, the progress of work is being monitored continuously and railways are expediting the completion of the project by deploying adequate resources”, the Minister said.