The 12.89 km tunnel, which is the longest escape tunnel of India, on the 111 km under-construction Banihal-Katra railway line in Jammu and Kashmir was completed, officials said.
It is part of the prestigious Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Railway Line (USBRL) project.
This is the fourth tunnel on the Banihal-Katra route following the 12.75 km tunnel T-49 (longest tunnel of Indian Railways), which was completed in January this year.
According to officials, the escape tunnel ‘T-13’ has been constructed to facilitate rescue work in case of an emergency.
On August 14, the world’s highest rail bridge over the Chenab river in the Kouri area of Reasi district achieved a milestone when the overarch deck of the bridge was completed with a golden joint.
The breakthrough was executed by conducting a blast and with it, the work on the escape tunnel was started.
“The construction work of escape tunnel (12.895 km) for the longest rail tunnel T-49 between Khari and Banihal stations of Katra under USBRL project was completed after successfully negotiating major cavity formation,” a senior official engaged in the work said.
“This is the longest escape tunnel of India and its line and level are precisely achieved,” the official said.
He said that it is a modified horseshoe shape tunnel connecting the Sumber station yard on the south side and tunnel T-50 after crossing bridge number 4 over Khoda nullah on the north side at Khoda village.
The elevation of the south end at Sumber is approximately 1400.5 metres and of the north end is 1558.84 metres.
Tunnel T-49 is a twin tube tunnel comprising the main tunnel (12.75 km) and escape tunnel (12.895 kms) connected with 33 cross-passages, the officials said.
Several challenges were encountered in the course of construction such as shear zone, perched aquifer, highly jointed rock mass, and heavy ingress of water, among others, they said.
Out of the total 272 kilometres of the USBRL project, 161 km has already been commissioned and operationalized.
The work of balance 111 km between Katra and Banihal is under progress at a rapid pace, the officials said.