Providing all-weather access, an 18-km-long railway line linking Banihal to Qazigund in Jammu and Kashmir would be thrown open to public after inauguration by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday.
The strategically important link would enter the record books as the rail line would pass through a 11.2-km-long tunnel, the second longest in Asia, cutting through Pir Panjal range. Building the tunnel alone cost over Rs 1,300 crore and took over seven years to complete.
About 7,500 metric tonnes of steel and 3,28,000 cubic meters of concrete have been used and 10,00,000 cubic meters of underground excavation has been done to complete the tunnel. At least 1,300 workers and 150 engineers worked round the clock to accomplish this challenging task, the Railway official said.
The link is a part of the Udhampur-Baramullah line, which is hailed as an engineering marvel. For a distance of 18 km, 39 bridges have been constructed at a cost of over Rs 1,691 crore. Opening of Banihal-Qazigund railway section would connect Jammu division with Kashmir division of Jammu and Kashmir state.