All-weather rail connectivity from Himachal Pradesh to Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir will soon become a reality with the Bilaspur-Manali-Leh railway line. Indian Railways and the Defence Ministry are working on connectivity issues faced by the 465km-long project. It is expected to be operational by 2022 and will be the world's highest railway line at 5,360 meters above sea level.
The work on the detailed project report (DPR) has started. The railway line will be declared a national project at a cost of Rs 83,360 crore. It will be along the Indo-China border with India's first underground railway station at Keylong in Himachal Pradesh.
According to reports, the elevation for the railway line will begin from Bilaspur at a height of 500 meters and end in Leh at an elevation of 3,215 meters. The highest road point (Tanglangla Pass) at 5,360 meters will be the highest railway station in the world. The proposed alignment passes through the Shivaliks, Himalayas and the Zanskar range and four mountain passes - Rohtang La, Barlacha La, Lachung La and Tangla La. More than 50 percent of the line will be underground with a 27km-long tunnel near Manali.
The project has been proposed as a single track line covering a total of 30 stations. The railway line is expected to have major tunnels, bridges and viaducts. With its presence near the border, this project will be a boon for the army personnel and will also boost tourism in the area.
The train coaches for this particular railway line will be specially built for higher altitude and oxygen masks are likely to be present for every passenger, given that the cabin pressure in the coaches will have to be maintained at such altitudes, reports Financial Express.
Travel time between the national capital and Leh will also be reduced after the introduction of the railway line. With nearly 40 hours to reach Leh from Delhi, the time can be cut short to its half after the rail starts becoming operational.