On Wednesday, June 26, 2013, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh inaugurated a 11-km-long railway tunnel, which is across the Pir Panjal mountain range. The new rail tunnel is both the longest in the country, as well as an engineering marvel and a dream come true for the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
The project took about seven years and thousands of men – most of which were highly-skilled in tunnel building – to make. The workers who were involved in the project fought geographical constraints, as well as rough weather in order to build the all-weather tunnel. During their work on the tunnel, boring machinery – which is an improved Austrian version – was used for the first time on such a huge project.
The tunnel also has a three-meter-wide road, which has been provided for maintenance and relief operations in emergency situations. An engineer at thesite said, “The tunnel has been made water-proof by providing a continuous PVC membrane between the primary and secondary lining. It is equipped with state-of-the-art air quality monitoring, communications, fire-fighting and emergency rescue systems.?
The tunnel has been built at the cost of Rs. 1,300 crores and has reduced the surface distance between Qazigund town in the Valley and Banihal town in Jammu and Kashmir region by 18 km.