Northern Railway Construction Organization
(USBRL Project)
October 5, 2023


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 345 km. long Railway Line joining the Kashmir Valley with the Indian Railways network. The Project has been declared as a Project of National Importance in March 2002.

2. The 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 345 km. It passes through the young Himalayas, tectonic thrusts and faults. The work on Jammu-Udhampur section ( 53 Km) has been completed and opened to public by Hon’ble Prime Minister in Apr’05.

The section from Anantnag to Rajwansher (66 KM) was opened to the public by the Hon’ble Prime Minister on 11/10/08.

The section from Rajwansher to Baramulla (35 KM) was inaugurated and dedicated to the nation by the Hon’ble Chairperson of UPA Smt. Sonia Gandhi 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

The work is in various stages of progress in the balance length from Udhampur to Quazigund.

3. Scope of Work :

The length from Udhampur to Baramulla is 292 km and has been divided into three sections, details of which are as under.


Udhampur -Katra

Katra- Qazigund

Qazigund -Baramulla

Route length( km)








Tunnels Length( km)




Max height of bridge (m)




Longest tunnel( km)








*As per revised alignment

4. Salient Features :

This project has various special & unique features and several firsts in Indian Railways.





Max Curvature




Max. height of Bridge

85 m

359 m

22 m

Longest span

154m Steel Girder over river Jhajjar

467 m Steel Arch over river Chenab

45 m

Longest tunnel

3.15 km.

10.96 km


Max Depth of Cutting

20 m

40 m

12 m


5. 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. For execution purpose, project has been divided into 3 sub-sections. Construction activities are in progress on Udhamur-Katra, Katra-Quazigund and Quazigund-Srinagar-Baramulla section of the project. Katra-Qazigund leg is the most difficult stretch of this project. The alignment of this stretch which is 129 Km long, passes through Patni and Pir Panjal ranges.

This alignment requires construction of 62 important/major bridges / minor bridges. The alignment also requires, interalia, construction of 35 no. of tunnels, totaling to a length of 103 kms bringing the percentage of the total length of the alignment on tunnels to approx. 80%.

6.0 Present Status of the Project:

6.1 For the ease of execution, the  work has been sub-divided into the following three legs :-

Leg -1 :   Udhampur-Katra ( 25 Km)

Leg -2  :  Katra-Qazigund (129KM)

Leg -3  :  Qazigund –Baramulla (Km 119 )

The progress of work in these different sections of the new line is given as under:


6.2 Leg -1:- Udhampur- Katra ( 25 km)

Executing Agency : Northern Railway

Udhampur-Katra section is 25 km long and involves about 11 km of tunneling, 9 important/ major bridges, 29 minor bridges and 10 ROB/RUBs in addition to about 38.86 lac cum of earthwork. The approx. cost of this stretch is Rs. 928 cr. The tallest bridge in this section is 85m high ( Br. No. 20) and the longest tunnel is 3.15 km long. All the tunneling as well as bridge works have been completed. However, problem of squeezing and swelling was faced in tunnel (T-1) due to expansive soil conditions, after completion of tunnel boring work. To tackle this problem, Railway has engaged the services of M/s RITES- Geo-Consult (a joint venture between M/s RITES and M/s Geo-Consult, an internationally renowned tunnel consultancy firm based in Austria). The consultant has given the revised scheme of construction of a new diversion tunnel. The work for construction of diversion tunnel has been awarded in Jan 2010 and contrac. The target for this leg has been revised to December, 2011.

6.3 Leg -2 :- Katra-Qazigund ( 148 km)

This leg is the toughest section, full of tunnels and bridges/ viaducts, that has been constructed on the Indian Railways. It is much tougher terrain than Konkan Railway. The terrain in this region is full of poor geology and faults. Tunneling and bridging is a challenge greater than that was met on Jammu-Udhampur or Udhampur-Katra section and will be a matter of pride for the engineers of Indian Railways.

The stretch between river Chenab and Banihal is passing through a virgin territory and requires construction of about 262 km of access roads. About 160 km of access roads have already been constructed. At Qazigund end of this stretch, the longest tunnel on Indian Railways is being constructed ( T-80, Pir Panjal Tunnel). This tunnel is 10.96 km long and will pierce through the Pir Panjal range below the snow line. The work on Katra-Qazigund section was started in Nov.’2002 and the present progress is about 13 percent. The engineers working on this section are facing multifarious problems due to extremely difficult and inaccessible terrain, technical problems and adverse security concerns of extremist activities in the State.

6.4 The execution of the work has been divided among three agencies as under :

(a) Northern Railway for the first 5 kms ( km 25- km 30)
(b) KRCL for the next 67 kms ( km 30- km 97)
(c) IRCON for the next 57 kms (km 97-km 154)

6.4.1 While no significant difficulties are being experienced in the portion being executed by northern Railway, but the progress of works from Km30 to Km136 had been very slow due to failures in tunnels/tunnel portals. In view of the difficulties being faced due to adverse geology in the region, Railway Board vide their letter No. 86/W2/NL/NR/25Pt.-III dt. 14.07.08. conveyed their decision to review the alignment from Katra to Banihal.

6.4.3 On Railway Board’s directions, M/s IRCON appointed an International consultant (M/s Amberg Engineering Ltd., Switzerland)in Oct 2008 for the purpose of studying the alignment and suggesting measures to improve upon the existing alignment apart from suggesting the alternate alignment.the complete and final report has been submitted in Jan 2010.

6.4.4 Railway Board also constituted an Expert Committee to review the alignment and give their expert opinion. This Committee was headed by Sh. M. Ravindra, Retd. Chairman, Railway Board. The members of the committee were eminent geologists, tunneling experts, alignment experts and civil engineers.The committee submitted its report in June 2009.

6.4.5 The committee’s report has been accepted by Railway Board and orders for recommencement of work issued on 31.8.2009. Tunnelling work in Sangaldan area re commenced with effect from 25.09.2009. Survey works, tests and studies, re-mobilization at the existing sites and the process of calling for fresh tenders etc. has been started. The first phase of this strearch between Qazigund and Banihal involving 11 km long tunnel between Pir Panjal range is expected to be ready for commissioning by March, 2012 and the entire project by 2017-18.

6.5 Leg 3 : Qazigund-Baramulla ( 119 km)

Executing Agency : IRCON

This section falls in the Kashmir Valley, which is a natural bowl, surrounded by the mountain ranges. Though there is no tunnel, heavy bridging is required across rivers, canals and roads.

The section from Anantnag to Rajwansher (66 KM) was opened to public by the Hon’ble Prime Minister on 11/10/08.

The section from Rajwansher to Baramulla (35 KM) was inaugurated and dedicated to the nation by the Hon’ble Chairperson of UPA Smt. Sonia Gandhi on 14.02.09.

The work from Quazigund to Anantnag ( 18 km) has been completed and commissioned on 28/10/09 by Hon’ble Prime Minister.With this commissioning the entire 119 km stretch in the valley has been made operational as a standalone system.


7.0 Time Schedule:

Latest  estimated targets dates for different sections are as under.



Completion of 11 km long tunnel through Pir Panjal Range

December, 2011

Commissioning of  Quazigund – Banihal Section

March, 2012

Commissioning of Udhampur-Katra Section

December, 2011

Commissioning of the entire project



8.0 Socio-economic impact of the project

(i) The completion of this project will provide an all weather and reliable connectivity to the J&K State through rest of the country by the railway network also provide connectivity by rail to far flung areas of J&K.

(ii) Construction of Access Roads – Total about 262 kms of approach roads to work sites are to be constructed. Out of which, 160 kms already constructed. With completion of approach roads, more than 73 villages will get connected, which will provide road connectivity to about 1,47,000 people, 29 villages already connected.

(iii) Employment generation – Direct employment to the local people (about 7000) and indirect employment to thousands for day to day requirement of the project personnel. This will help to mitigate militancy.

(iv) Permanent job in Railways to one of the family members, whose more than 75% of land has been acquired. Job given to 343 persons so far.


Mega Railway Bridge over River Chenab

To have a railway line connecting Udhampur to the Kashmir valley, the Chenab river need to be crossed. A mega bridge over river Chenab (1.315 km long) has been planned near Salal village. This bridge will have a steel main arch to cross the Chenab gorge and a viaduct with steel girders on concrete piers. The rail height from the river bed will be 359 mts. which will make it the tallest railway bridge in the world. The main arch will have a span of 465 mts. across river Chenab which gives another distinction to this bridge being the longest single span railway arch bridge in the world.

The 1315 mts. long bridge will have 17 spans including the main arch span. The construction of this bridge would involve structural steel work of about 25000 MT and reinforcement steel of about 4000 MT. The construction will involve about 43000 cum of concrete and about 6 lac cum of excavation in rocks.

A very elaborate and comprehensive design procedure has been followed for this bridge as there is no Indian Code/Manual available for designing such mega structures. Since the bridge is over a very deep gorge, wind will have very significant effect on the stability of bridge and therefore, the modern wind tunnel tests were performed in Denmark for finalizing the design. Further, since the area is prone to terrorist attacks, the blast load has been taken into consideration for the design, for the first time on Indian Railway.

A comprehensive scheme of instrumentation for monitoring the health of the bridge has been conceptualized and information will be fully online so as to take necessary action in case of any emergency/contingency to safeguard the passengers/trains.



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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