The Kashmir Railway Project (KRP) is being developed to provide an alternative and reliable all-weather transportation system to the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

The Indian railways is one of the biggest assets of the country and has been serving its citizens for decades. It is the 4th largest railway network in the world and has enormous resources under various subsidiaries. Our railway network is always busy, as rail is a convenient way to travel compared to road and much cheaper compared to Air.

Our railway has more than 68000 km of track length, with 71% of broad gauge routes electrified. Last year it had carried more than 800 crore passengers and transported over 120 crore tonnes of freight. It runs 1 lakh passenger trains everyday covering 7,325 stations across the country. It is also the world’s 8th largest employer with over 1.25 million employees. The government has committed to electrifying India’s entire rail network by 2023-24 and become a ‘net zero’ railway by 2030. It’s also investing heavily in several modernization and digitization plans.

One of the key targets of the government over the years was to extend railway services to the Kashmir valley and it is now close to reality. It is one of the most challenging railway projects ever undertaken. The Kashmir Railway Project (KRP) is being developed to provide an alternative and reliable all-weather transportation system to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The line is officially called the Jammu-Udhampur-Katra-Quazigund-Baramulla link (JUSBRL). KRP is the only railway line in the Himalayan ranges that is being constructed in broad gauge. The 345km extension is estimated to cost more than $13bn.

The 345 km route crosses major earthquake zones, and is subjected to extreme temperatures of cold and heat, as well as inhospitable terrain. Construction of this railway line involved significant engineering challenges. Since the Railway Ministry itself does not have sufficient funds to tackle the project, the Kashmir Railway received National Project Status from the Indian Government in 2001 and has seen adequate funds provided to it.

The KRP line connects Jammu to Srinagar with 30 stations in between and 10 to 12 trains will be provided every day. The project is divided into 4 legs. Leg stretches 53km from Jammu to Udhampur which was opened in April 2005. Leg 2 runs 25km from Udhampur to Katra and was dedicated in July 2014. Leg3 running 111km from Katra to Banihal is the most challenging section and is expected to be completed by 2022. It passes through 35 tunnels and 37 bridges. It also requires 262km of access roads connecting 1,47,000 people in 73 villages. This leg also consists of the construction of two extremely challenging bridges, an arch bridge on the Chenab River and a Cable stayed Anji Khad Bridge.  Leg4 which is 135km long from Banihal to Baramulla is operational since June 2013. In November 2018, the government approved the extension of the track from Baramulla to Kupwara, which is 39km long and is estimated to cost 3843 crore.

Completion of this enormous & prestigious project is an extraordinary accomplishment in itself but also would connect Kashmir with the rest of the country throughout the year like never before. This would further boost business, trade and tourism, benefitting the local community. A cheaper, faster and reliable mode of transport would certainly open up a world of opportunities for Kashmiris that never existed before.

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