The Leh-Manali line is the highest railway track in the world, and the trains that run on it need to be special.
The Bilaspur-Leh-Manali line along the India-China border happens to have the world’s highest rail track and many other interesting features. It also happens to be the first line to have a train station in a tunnel, which you can read about here.
According to the first phase of the survey, the project has around 74 tunnels, 124 major bridges and 396 minor bridges. Final location surveys for the project are currently underway.
Once completed, the line will connect locations between Bilaspur and Leh, like Sundernagar, Mandi, Manali, Keylong, Koskar, Darcha, Upshi and Karu, and other towns of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.
Well, this track is in the news again, and this time it is because the Railways plans to use aircraft-like pressurised coaches in its trains, so passengers don’t have breathing difficulties on board, reports The Times of India.
The cabins in aeroplanes are pressurised because the thin air makes breathing difficult at the high altitudes at which the planes fly. To prevent complications, the cabins of the aircraft are adjusted to near sea-level pressure, which makes breathing almost the same as at sea level.
Well, the Bilaspur-Leh-Manali line is an ambitious project. Costing around Rs 83,360 crore, the line will sit at the height of 5,360 metres, and be 465 km long. The pressurised coaches to be used on these tracks are the same that are being used on the Quinghay-Tibet Railway Line in China.
“Special pressurised rolling stock to deal with lack of oxygen will have to be used in these trains as passengers might feel uneasy because of the high altitude. These will be like the pressurised cabins used by aircraft to maintain the oxygen levels inside,” said DR Gupta, Chief Engineer (Construction), Northern Railways.
The pressurised Chinese coaches have been manufactured by Canada’s Bombardier Inc, which also makes small planes. These are specially designed so that passengers are comfortable in an oxygen-deficient atmosphere.
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The pressurisation ensures that passengers don’t fall prey to severe cases of altitude sickness.
For example, in the Tibetan train, two kinds of systems are used to maintain correct oxygen levels–one is through the main controls which maintain standard oxygen levels, which get switched on at high altitude areas; while the other is through oxygen ports for each passenger, when they feel the need for extra oxygen.
Well, with the new pressurised coaches, passengers who travel on the high-altitude line shouldn’t have altitude sickness, thanks to the Railways!
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)