Indian Railways has built tunnel T-49 of Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Railway Link (USBRL) Project surpassing the 11.2-km long Pir Panjal Tunnel on the Banihal-Qazigund section of the Project. At a length of 12.758 km, T-49 is the longest tunnel of Indian Railways, running between Sumber and Arpinchala station of Katra-Banihal section.
The USBRL project is set to be 272 km long, constructed on access roads connecting 147,000 people in 73 villages; out of which 161 km that connects 29 villages, has already been commissioned and is in operation. The course includes numerous bridges, viaducts, and tunnels.
T-49 has two burrows for safety — the main tunnel and an escape tunnel. In line with international standards, the escape tunnel runs parallel to the main tunnel, connected by cross passages every 375 metres to allow for rescue and restoration work.
It uses the new Austrian Tunneling Method (NATM), which is a novel approach to the “drill and blast” technique in the teetering Shivalik Hills. Its cross-section profile is designed to give it a horseshoe appearance and built to accommodate a speed of 100 km per hour.
The north gateway of the tunnel is located near Arpinchala village of Ramban district situated in Mahu-Mangat Valley at an altitude of 1,600 m. The south gateway of Tunnel T-49 is located in the quaint Sumber village, 45 km from the district headquarters Ramban in Jammu and Kashmir at an altitude of 1400 m.
The 111-km stretch between the lower Himalaya’s Katra-Banihal section is also under progress at a rapid pace. It has 37 bridges of which 20 are complete, and 35 tunnels of which 27 are the main ones, and 8 are escape tunnels.
The world’s most advanced and modern technologies are being used for the planning and construction of this project. At many instances, new technologies were developed and sometimes existing methods were used in innovative ways in consultation with experts from India and abroad for the execution of the project.