The Northern Railway achieved another milestone on Sunday with one more tunnel in the Bankot area near Banihal in Jammu and Kashmir's Ramban connected after a breakthrough, officials said.
With the breakthrough of the tunnel, most of the excavation work of railway tunnels between Banihal and the Khari sector has been completed by IRCON International Limited, they added.
The work on the Kashmir rail project in a 110-km-long railway line between Katra and Banihal is underway and is likely to be completed within the next two years. The project is part of the 272-km Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla railway line to provide an alternative surface link between Kashmir and the rest of the country.
"The around-two-km-long tunnel project in Bankot is being constructed at a cost of Rs 300 crore in two parts," an official said.
Additional Deputy Commissioner, Ramban, Harbans Lal Sharma, who attended the breakthrough ceremony, said the Indian Railways has crossed another challenging milestone between Banihal and the Khari sector of the Katra-Banihal railway link, coinciding with the world tunnelling day.
He said travelling by train from Kashmir to Kanyakumari is expected to start in the next two years and to achieve the deadline, work is in full swing in Ramban.
Sharma said 96 per cent of the 53-kilometre-long railway line in the mountainous Ramban district passes through underground tunnels and land measuring over 11,000 kanal (550 hectares) has been handed over to the railways.
Managing director, Beigh Construction Company (BCC), Imran Beig said a road-header machine is being used for the first time in the excavation of railway tunnels in the Kashmir rail project.
"The load-header machine is being used in tunnel excavation and thanks to the machine, there is no need for carrying out blasts inside the tunnels, which sometimes damage the nearby residential houses coming along the railway tunnels," he said.
"We have been given a one-year deadline to complete tunnel number 77 and I am hopeful that we will complete the project within the deadline," he added.
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