Indian Railways to carry out final survey of Bilaspur-Manali-Leh line
The 498km project is set to be one of the highest railway tracks in the world upon completion, holding high strategic and economic value.
Construction of the line from Bilaspur to Leh through Manali is expected to begin following the completion of the final location survey.
The proposed network will connect Leh with the rest of the country, and will pass through other important towns in the states of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir, which include Mandi, Kullu, Manali and Keylong.
The line will pass through the Shivalik, Great Himalayan and Zanskar Ranges, which feature a wide variation in height, ranging from 600m to 5,300m. It will also fall under Seismic zone IV and V, indicating that the region is highly prone to earthquakes.
India's Ministry of Railways has awarded the final location survey contract to engineering consultancy company RITES, which is valued at an estimated Rs1.57bn ($24.35m).
The survey is expected to be completed by March 2019 and is set to involve the development of corridors with different grades and analyses of the selected corridor, as well as geological and geophysical investigations and design of bridges, tunnels and viaducts along the proposed route.
Leh is considered to be the most important town in Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir, however road connectivity to this area is frequently cut off from other parts of country during the winter months between October to March.
This is due to heavy snowfall, which has led to increased in demand for rail connectivity across the region.