Punjab & Region

Railway Minister lays foundation stone for enhancement of infrastructure and passenger facilities at SMVD Katra Station

The Fact News Service
Ferozepur, September 13

Ashwini Vaishnaw, Minister of Railways today visited SMVD Katra today and laid the foundation stone for enhanced infrastructure and passenger amenities at the Sri Mata Vaishno Devi Katra station. He reviewed the ongoing work on the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla-Rail-Link Project (USBRL).

He boarded the prestigious semi-high speed Vande Bharat Express train from SMVD Katra for Jammu. He interacted with the passengers while on the train. Ashutosh Gangal, General Manager Northern Railway, Chief Administrative Officer, USBRL Project, S.K. Jha, Divisional Railway Manager, Firozpur, Dr. Seema Sharma and other officials of Northern Railway and USBRL were present on the occasion.

Ashwini Vaishnaw on his first trip as Minister of Railways to the hugely popular temple town of Katra visited the SMVD Katra railway station today. The Minister laid the foundation stone for increasing infrastructure for initiating the Katra-Banihal rail section, which is underway under the USBRL project. He went around the premises inspecting the various facilities existing in the world class station. He interacted with the pilgrims who had traveled from different parts of the country to visit the Shrine.

The Minister was briefed about the progress of work of the final leg of the USBRL project which is to link Jammu to Srinagar by the USBRL Engineers. The project which is to Link Jammu to Srinagar Valley through an all-weather rail line is being built at a cost of Rs 27,949 Crore. The construction of the rail line in the young fold, seismically active Himalayan region has been a challenge. Three sections from Banihal-Baramulla have already been completed and made operational. The fourth and final leg of the project 111 Km between Katra-Banihal is the most challenging as 97 Km of the route is in tunnels. There are 07 stations proposed in the section. Due to paucity of flat space some of the stations are to be within tunnels or bridges. The route is to be completely electrified so as to curtail running costs and minimize environmental pollution.

This section also boosts of several iconic structures; the Chenab Bridge and the Anji Bridge. The bridges are aesthetically designed, colossal structures, placed at great height being built across the Chenab River gorges. The Chenab bridge is an arch bridge 359 m above the river bed. When complete this will be the highest railway bridge in the world. The arch of the bridge has been laid and the deck laying process has recently been initiated. While the Anji bridge is India’s first Cable stayed railway bridge. The bridge will be held in place by a single 195 m pier with 37-42 cable attachments. The work on the pier is fast reaching completion.

There are 27 main tunnels totaling 97 Km in length. Individually, 04 tunnels are more than 9 km in length and another 04 tunnels are about 5 Km long. Escape tunnels are being constructed with these tunnels as per international disaster management protocols. Tunnels on this project are being constructed using the latest New Austrian Tunnelling method (NATM). Reputed international consultants have been associated for consultancy and designing of the tunnel project. The tunnel will be equipped with modern state of art ventilation and public address system when complete.

Expressing satisfaction on the progress the project MR said that, the aspirations of the people of Jammu & Kashmir has to be fulfilled by completing the project so that the region gets a good transportation system to remain connected to the rest of the country all the year round. He called upon the engineers working on the project to expedite the remaining portion on mission mode.

Later the Minister boarded the Semi-high speed express train ‘Vande Bharat from Katra for Jammu. He interacted with the travelling passengers to get their views and feedback about the railway services. The passengers were pleasantly surprised to see the Rail Minister travelling with them. While some voiced their suggestions for changes in the Railway system. Many more thanked the Minister for overall betterment in the services, cleanliness and passenger facilities over the recent years. The Minister then foot-platted some distance in the driver’s cabin of the Vande Bharat Express. He showed keen interest in the driving process of the train. On alighting from the train at Jammu the Minister inspected the Jammu-Tawi station and took stock of the passenger facilities there. He studied the redevelopment plan on display at the station. He was apprised that the redevelopment of Jammu Tawi station has been initiated, costing Rs. 226 crore which includes infrastructure enhancement, a second entry and subways for easy movement of passengers.

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