The Indian Government has cleared a proposal to earmark Rs190bn ($3.5bn) of additional funds for the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla rail project, which will link the Kashmir valley to the rest of the country.
The funds will be used for building rail tracks from Katra in Jammu to Qazigund in the Kashmir valley; the project is expected to be completed in 2017.
The Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Link project involves construction of 202km of track, including the 25km Udhampur-Katra section, the 148km Katra-Quazigund section and the 119km Quazigund-Baramulla section.
According to reports, a delay in the completion of the project led to an increase in the cost of requiring additional funds. The Indian Government previously increased the projected cost of the railway line in 2007, upping the initial estimate of Rs30.7bn ($569.3m) to Rs112bn ($2.1bn).
The new broad-gauge rail link involves 228km of access roads, 738 bridges and 129km of tunnelling, and after completion it will allow trains to run at a speed of 100km/hr.
As part of the project, Indian Rail completed an 11km railway tunnel in October 2011, built at a cost of Rs10bn ($201.8m), which passes through the Pir Panjal mountain range in Jammu and Kashmir in India. Construction of the tunnel was carried out by Hindustan Construction Company and took over six years. It runs 440m below the existing Jawahar Tunnel, which is the only road link from the region to the rest of India.
The project included the construction of an 8.4m-wide and 7.3m-high tunnel, as well as construction of a 3m-wide road that runs alongside the railway tunnel for maintenance and emergency evacuation. It will reduce the journey between Quazigund in Kashmir and Banihal in Jammu to only 11km and cover the distance from the south to the north side of the mountain in 6.6 minutes.
Indian Railways also completed the 119-km Qazigund-Srnagar-Baramulla section in 2009.
Work on the Udhampur-Katra and Katra-Qazigund sections is ongoing and is expected to be completed by 2013 and 2017, respectively.