Indian Railways has almost completed the 7.5km stretch of its 11km Pir Panjal tunnel project in the State of Kashmir, the longest tunnel in the country.

The section has been built at a cost of Rs647 crore (approximately $133m) and uses the New Austrian Tunnelling Method.

The stretch has an overburden of 1,100m and comes up 440m below the existing 2.75km Jawahar road tunnel on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway.

The tunnel, connecting Qazigund with Banihal, is part of the State’s ongoing rail project to build a rail network connecting it to the rest of the country. A total of 158 bridges and 20 tunnels will be built under the project.

The remaining 3.5km stretch is scheduled for completion in late 2010.