Indian Rail has opened an 11km-long railway tunnel, built at a cost of Rs10bn ($201.8m), that 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.

The tunnel runs 440m below the existing Jawahar Tunnel, which is the only road link from the region to the rest of India.

The project includes construction of an 8.4m-wide and 7.3m-high tunnel, as well as construction of a 3m-wide road that will run alongside the railway tunnel for maintenance and emergency evacuation.

It will reduce the travel time 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.

The tunnel will be fully waterproof and is also equipped with a fire fighting system throughout.

The project is aligned straight from north to south and is part of Northern Railways’ Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla rail link project.