Northern Railway Construction Organization
(USBRL Project)
February 20, 2020


J & K Project Brief

1. Background :

With a view to provide an alternative and a reliable transportation system to Jammu & Kashmir, Govt. of India planned a 326 Km. long Railway Line joining the Kashmir valley with the Indian Railways network. The project has been declared as a Project of National Importance. Jammu- Udhampur- Katra- Quazigund- Baramulla Railway line is the biggest project in the construction of a mountain railway since independence. From Jammu to Baramulla, length of the new rail line is 326 Km. It passes through the young Himalayas, tectonics thrust and faults. The work is in various stages of progress in the balance length from Katra to Banihal ( 111 Km). .

2. Sections Completed

  1. The work on Jammu-Udhampur section (55 Km) has been completed and opened to public by Hon’ble Prime Minister in Apr’05.
  2. The work on Quazigund - Baramulla section (118 Km) has also been completed and section has been opened to public in three phases. The section from Anantnag to Mazhom (68 KM) was opened to the public by the Hon’ble Prime Minister on 11/10/08. The section from Mazhom to Baramulla (32 KM) was inaugurated and dedicated to the nation on 14.02.09.The section from Quazigund to Anantnag (18 km) was opened to the public by the Hon’ble Prime Minister on 28/10/09.
  3. The section from Quazigund to Banihal (18 Km) involving Pir Panjal Tunnel, the longest transportation tunnel in India of total 11.215 Km length has also been opened to the Public by the Hon’ble Prime Minister on 26.06.2013. The block section from Quazigund to Banihal is a part of Katra-Quazigund section of the project, wherein the alignment passes through the world’s most difficult terrain, both in terms of logistic and geological strata.
  4. Udhampur – Katra which is 25 Km long has been opened to traffic by Hon’ble Prime Minister on 4th July 2014.

3. Salient features of USBRL Project

The length from Udhampur to Baramulla is 272 km and has been divided into  
 four sections. The salient features of these sections are as under:

Table 1  Salient Features of USBRL Project



Katra- Banihal

Banihal- Quazigund

Quazigund – Baramulla


Route Length (Km)






Ruling Gradient

1 in 100 (C )

1 in 80 (C )

1 in 100 (C )

1 in 100 (C )


Max Curvature












Max. height of bridge (m)






Length of bridges (m)






Longest span

154 m steel girder over river Jhajjar

467 m steel arch over river Chenab

45 m

45 m


Tunnel Length (Km)

11 km

97 Km



118 Km

Tunnels (No.)






% Length in Tunnel






Longest Tunnel (Km)






Max Depth of cutting (m)







4.0 Present Status of the Project:

For the purpose of execution /monitoring , the work has been sub divided into the following four legs :-

  • Leg-1 : Udhampur –Katra (25 KM -Work completed and section  commissioned
  • Leg-2 : Katra- Banihal (111 KM) – Work in progress
  • Leg-3: Banihal –Quazigund ( 18KM)  -Work completed and section  commissioned
  • Leg-4: Quazigund –Baramulla (118 KM) - -Work completed and section  commissioned

This Project is, perhaps, the most difficult new railway line project undertaken on Indian subcontinent. The terrain passes through young Himalayas, which are full of geological surprises and numerous problems. The execution of the work in the balanced portion between the Katra and Banihal (111 KM) has been divided among three agencies as under:-

  • Northern Railway – 5 Km.
  • KRCL           -    53 Km
  • IRCON         -    53 Km.


5.0 Status of Important Bridge on River Chenab

Chenab Bridge

i. Introduction:

The Indian Railways has undertaken a mega project of construction of a new Railway line in J&K state from Udhampur to Baramulla, which has been declared a national project. The alignment is a culmination of large number of Tunnels and Bridges, which are to be implemented in highly rugged and mountainous terrain with most difficult Himalayan Geology. The alignment crosses deep gorges of Chenab River near Salal Hydro Power Dam, which necessitates construction of long span bridges. The configurations of steel arches have been selected on account of aesthetics, economy, and availability of local expertise and construction materials.
The Chenab Bridge, 359 m above river bed, will be the highest bridge in the world, and longest span for BG Rail line with arch span of 467 m.

Fig1 : Key Plan of the Bridge

ii Salient Features of Chenab Bridge:

1. Total length of the Bridge 1315 meters
2. Contract amount Rs.5120 millions
3. Design life of the bridge 120 years
4. Design speed 100 kmph
5. Height of Bridge (river bed to formation)      359m
6. Main Arch Span 467 meters
7. Total No of Spans 17 Nos.

Deck Width

Viaduct Portion 13.50 meters
Arch Portion 17.00 meters
9. Max. Ht. of Steel Pier 133.734 meters
10. Max. Ht. of Concrete Pier 49.343 meters
11. Max. Size of Foundation  
Viaduct Portion 18 x 15 x 4.15 meters
Arch Portion 50 x 30 meters
12. Total Steel Fabrication 28,752 MT
13. Seismic zone Zone V
14. Design Wind Velocity 266 kmph (at deck level)
15. Geology of terrain  
16. Slope along  
Katra side bank (South) +35 to 50 degrees
Qazigund side bank vertical to sub-vertical


iii. Major Quantities (BOQ)

1. Concrete Quantity 59727Cum
2. Reinforcement Steel    3179 MT
3. Excavation 1008545 Cum
4. Grouting 1300 MT.
5. Rock Bolt 72455 Rmt.
6. Structural Steel Work


Kauri End Structural Steel          

7. Structural Steel Work


Bakkal End Structural steel   


Fig 1: Longitudinal Section of Chenab River Bridge

Fig 3: Artistic View of Chenab Bridge

Physical Progress on Chenab Bridge The bridge has been divided in four parts for construction point of view. These are :
A. Construction of Arch Portion (S-10 to S-70)
B. Construction of Viaduct Portion (S-80 to S-180)
C. Slope Stabilisation - Bakkal end and
D. Slope stabilisation - Kauri end


1.0 The Pir Panjal Tunnel is a work of Pioneering nature being the longest transport tunnel in India and may become a benchmark for more ambitious and longer transport tunnels in future. The quantum of work involves one million cum of under ground excavation. 11 Km. long tunnel is completely straight in almost N-S direction. Maximum overburden is approx. 1100m. Tunnel is at 440m lower level than road tunnel and will be much less vulnerable to snow. The single track tube has been adopted with side road for repair /emergency rescue. The clear 3m wide passage exists in the cross-section all along and extends outside the portals. Rising grade of 1% from south to the high point at Km. 159.134 followed by a falling gradient of 0.5% towards north end (for better constructability). Tunnel will be provided with properly conceived Ventilation, fire fighting and monitoring systems.

2.0 M/s. Geo-Consult RITES (JV) has been appointed as Design and Supervision Consultants for this project.

3.0 During selection of construction technology Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) was not adopted because of following :-

o Heterogeneous geology soil near portals to Trap and quartzite in middle.

o Geology, with fault zones is also encountered.

o High squeezing anticipated in the middle zone with 1100m overburden. This will be accompanied by heavy water inflow (Karst) in the lime stone.

o High initial period is required for ordering design, manufacture and commissioning.

o Retrieval of TBM’s require a large cavern which delays the final lining activity.

o No bidder was prepared to mobilize two TBM’s.

o Required advance with one TBM is three times compared to NATM / drill-and-blast.

o Non-circular section can only be achieved by enlargement in case of TBM.

4.0 Adit & Shaft : 774m adit meets the main tunnel at 2750m and isolates soft-ground. The shaft with 12m dia & 55m depth isolates 600m north-end tunnel. These will also assist in the ventilation during construction and operation.

5.0 Features of NATM design and construction Process:

Geo-technical modeling includes rock classifications and impact of construction sequence. Actual design performed in the form of supports sheet during construction by designer at site. Instrumentation and monitoring is done to observe settlement and validation of the design. The steel ribs have been eliminated and lattice girders are used. These are lighter element and allow fore poling through them providing better safety and keeping the excavation profile to close tolerances. At any stage in the installed primary lining the actual stress level is known providing a real time tool to the designer to validate his design parameters. The geo-technical model showing presence of water, faults, different rock classes. The model enables identification of favored construction method-road header, drill blast. Permanent lining is being done concurrently while excavation is still on-going so that after the final break through, the tunnel is completed in 3 months. The finished cross section has been optimized in terms of area and shape. Assessment of tunnel stability during excavation is being done. Determination is done for additional support measures and to adjust the support and excavation sequences. Monitoring of deformation rate decides casting of inner lining. Optical targets, pressure cells strain meters, and measuring anchors are used.

6.0 Geological Features:

Rock units are mainly consisting of silicified limestone, andesite and basalt, quartizite and sandstone or limestone – shale intercalations, agglomerates shale and tuffs. Portal areas are situated in fluvioglacial sediments (soft ground). The general trend of mountain range and strike direction of bedding is NW –SE. The central areas of the Pir Panjal range show a distinct folding. Contacts between rock units are often faulted. Folding is common in central areas.

7.0 Salient Features of Pir Panjal Tunnel (T-80):

o Total length – 11km
o Adit – 774m, shaft: 55m depth, 12m dia.
o Maximum overburden – 1.10km.
o Tunnel Method : NATM (New Austrian Tunneling Method)
o Last estimate cost (2006) – 647 crores.
o Approx. 440m below existing Jawahar Road Tunnel (2.75km)
o Underground excavation : 10 lac cubic meter.
o Cross section Area : Excavation : 67 to 78 sqm, Finished Tunnel :48 sqm.
o Investigation Bore Holes depth upto 640m.
o 3m wide road in tunnel for maintenance emergency rescue and relief.
o High mid point and sloping in both directions for drainage
o Provision of system for ventilation, fire fighting and safety monitoring.
o Adit and shaft for parallel working, to be used for ventilation, maintenance and emergency relief during service.
o Extensive instrumentation for monitoring during tunneling.
o Consultant : M/s. Geoconsult-RITES (JV).

8.0 Many Firsts:

o The Longest Transport Tunnel In the Country (11km).
o Highest ‘Over-burden’ of 1100m.
o Deepest ‘Drill holes’ for Geotechnical Investigations 640m.
o First Large Scale use of ‘New Austrian Tunneling Method (NATM)’ in India.
o First Use of ‘Road header’ for ‘Tunnel Excavation’ in Railway Tunneling.


Concrete lining Pir-Panjal Tunnel




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