You wouldn’t have to wait for the five accessible months in a year to head off to Leh!
Planning to connect New Delhi with the scenic Ladakh region, the Indian Railways will kick-start the final location survey for the 498-km route connecting Bilaspur, Manali and Leh in Jammu and Kashmir this week.
The survey project will be funded by the Defence Ministry and is all set to be inaugurated by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu today.
Here’s everything you need to know about one of India’s most picturesque and challenging rail projects:
1. With locations like Sunder Nagar Mandi, Manali, Tandi, Keylong, Koksar, Darcha, Upshi and Karu falling in the proposed rail line connecting Bilaspur and Leh, it is for certain that the project post completion will offer a trip to behold. While a lot of the train route will be covered via tunnels, expect spectacular Himalayan vistas as well.
There will be a total of 30 train stations on the route. Interestingly, Keylong station on the route will be build inside a tunnel at a height of 3,000 metres, a first in India.
2. The new rail network will have strategic significance and is identified by the Defence Ministry as one of the four important rail routes along the China border. Apart from using the Lidar method for an understanding of the geology of the entire route, the railways is also seeking the help of USA for satellite imagery to survey the route.
3. The project has another facet for recognition. Set at an elevation of 3,300 metres, it is touted to become one of the highest rail routes in the world. Interestingly, the highest road point (Tanglangla Pass) enroute at 5,360 meters will be the highest of any railway in the world.
4. Currently, the road that one takes to reach Leh remains accessible for about five months a year. Claimed to be an all-weather rail project, the line is expected to boost the socio-economic state in the region and open up better influx for tourism.
In fact, the proposed train from Delhi to Leh is expected to bring down the journey time from 40 hours to 20 hours, by a whopping 50 per cent!
Photo Source: China Tibet Train (Representative Image)
5. With an estimated budget of Rs 157.77 crore, the survey project has been delegated to RITES Limited (Rail India Technical and Economic Service), a Railways Public Service Undertaking. According to a senior Railway Ministry official, the survey will be carried out in a triple phased manner and is expected to be completed by 2019.
You may also like: Meet the Teenager Setting up Libraries for Children in Ladakh
6. Post commissioning, the line will become convenient for transporting personnel and equipment heading towards the military base of Leh.
7. This isn’t the only strategic rail project that was initiated by the Defence Ministry. Along the borders of China, Nepal and Pakistan, 14 rail routes have been identified, including the Bilaspur- Leh line that will be completed in the first phase.
8. Once the project hits completion, Leh will become directly accessible for the rest of the country through the rail network.