The Indian Railways is planning to start the Vande Bharat Express on the Jammu-Srinagar route soon, once the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Link Project (USBRL) will be completed by December 2023 or January 2024, Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw confirmed on his Jammu and Kashmir visit. The semi-high speed train already runs of Delhi-Mata Vaishno Devi, Katra route in the Jammu province of J&K. The Vande Bharat train will be operated between Jammu and Srinagar once the project of Udhampur-Baramulla rail link becomes fully operational.
Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Link Project
The Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Link Project is a critical railway line being constructed by the Indian Railways, to link Kashmir Valley from the rest of India. While the train already runs rill Udhampur, it’s the last point in J&K till which a train can go from the rest of India. On the other hand, the Kashmir Valley has a functional 118 km Banihal-Baramula railway line.
Now, the Indian Railways is working to join the Udhampur section with Baramula section, by constructing 114 km long Udhampur-Banihal link, which will consist the highest railway bridge in the world, the Chenab Bridge. Recently, Railway Minister, Ashwini Vaishnaw travelled on the first run of a track-mounted trolley on the world’s highest arch bridge constructed on the Chenab river with railway officials and inspected the iconic bridge having a height of 359 metres from the Chenab riverbed.
Speaking on the progress of work, he said the track work on the Chenab bridge has been completed and now electric work will be undertaken, besides the installation of Kavach- an anti-collision safety device. He also said that a Vande Bharat Express train maintenance facility will be setup at Badgam in the Kashmir Valley and in the first go Vande Bharat Metro will run between Jammu and Srinagar cities.
“We are targeting that until December or January, Jammu-Srinagar connectivity is completed,” Vaishnaw said, adding Vande Bharat train maintenance facility is being created at Badgam so that once the railway line becomes operational, Vande Bharat trains will come to Srinagar. He further said Vande Bharat trains will run on new USBRL on the route almost in the “first go”.
“Once the Kashmir Valley will be connected with the Indian railway network, it will make the Jammu to Srinagar journey faster and more comfortable for passengers. Jammu to Srinagar journey by new railway link is expected to take 3.5 hours,” Vaishnaw said, adding that Vande Metro service will run between Srinagar and Jammu cities, in which the trains will be run at a specific frequency, reported PTI.
World’s Highest Railway Bridge
The line will comprise of the world’s highest railway bridge, being made on Chenab river. The iconic bridge having a foundation equal to half the football field is a “subject of pride” and it was a “difficult challenge of engineering”, Vaishnaw said, adding that more than 28,000 metric tonnes of steel was used for the bridge structure that is built in a highly active seismic zone.
Northern Railway officials said the arch bridge was constructed at Rs 1,486 crore. The deck height of the bridge is 359 metres, while its length is 1,315 metres. The arch bridge has 17 spans and the linear length of the main arch span is 460 metres and it is curvilinear, they said. The codal life of the bridge is 120 years and the bridge can withstand a wind speed of 266 kmph, but the train can cross the bridge at the speed of 100 kmph.