Tourists who have Leh Ladakh in their must-visit bucket list may soon get an opportunity to travel to Leh town from Delhi or Manali as train to Leh is going to turn reality very soon. While other vehicles take three days of travel time from Delhi and two days from Manali, the train to Leh from Delhi will cover this distance in just one day and from Manali to Leh in nearly 10 hours.
Taking a leap ahead of China and Pakistan, India has expedited efforts to connect Leh Ladakh by railway line as final survey, alignment and land acquisition for ambitious Bilaspur-Manali-Leh track, the highest in the world, has been speeded up in Himachal. The projects, however, may miss its 2022 deadline but the government is completing final formalities on the war footing.
According to sources, all the projects along border roads including Rohtang tunnel and Leh railway line have been expedited following unrest at the border. The initial marking of the track on Bhanupali-Bilaspur-Mandi-Manali section has already been done. Now Northern Railway is carrying out final alignment and land acquisition starting from Bhanupali in Bilaspur. The process may take a few months to complete.
The main challenge in alignment will begin after Manali beyond which majority of the line will be built in tunnels. However, there will be no problem in land acquisition as the whole area with thin population is mostly government land.
“Land acquisition has started from Bhanupali in Bilaspur district and surveys have begun in Mandi district,” Mandi MP Ram Swaroop Sharma said, adding that the project has already delayed but has now been expedited for larger interest of the nation.
“Building of this railway line has picked up pace following orders from the Centre. This railway line will make our military forces stronger at Ladakh. This will also boost tourism in Himachal and Ladakh. The project will give sleepless nights to our enemies. Technical details of the project are available with the railway officials,” he said.
As Covid-19 pandemic had become a major roadblock in the final location survey (FLS) and land acquisition process, the officials first sought permission from local administrations. Mandi deputy commissioner Rugved Milind Thakur confirmed that he had received an online formal request from the railway officials.
Executing the 498-km-long Bilaspur-Leh broad gauge all-weather railway track is near impossible but India has taken up this project as a challenge. The then railway minister Suresh Prabhu had laid foundation stone to start FLS on June 27, 2017 which will complete by October this year. The FLS will be completed at a cost of Rs 345 cr while the entire project was estimated to be worth over Rs 83,360 cr.
Xining-Lhasa railway that opened in 2006 is the highest railway line in the world with maximum elevation of 16, 627ft. With highest railway station at an altitude of 17,582ft at Taglang-la, Bilaspur-Leh railway will become the highest in the world.
Train to Leh te be another tourist attraction
The train to Leh will be no less than the eighth wonder of the world. This engineering marvel, passing through tunnels, crossing deep valleys and gushing rivers over bridges, traversing high peaks and mountain passes up to an altitude of 17,582ft, operations amidst snowfall and extreme cold, starting journey from green valleys of lower Himachal to cold deserts of Lahaul and Ladakh, the tourists will get to see many more wonders of nature. The journey will be full of adventure but safe as well. Train to Leh will star its journey from plains close to sea level and finish the journey at the top of the world.
Leh railway line – A national pride
Once completed, the railway track will give another reason to our enemies to worry as they are already feeling insecure about India expanding its road infrastructure and building airstrips along the border. At present, it takes at least 3 days to travel from Delhi to Leh and the travel time may increase up to double for heavy vehicles. The train which will connect Ladakh with Himachal and other parts of the country is expected to take just one day to cover this distance. This will not only facilitate the tourists and local residents but also will help the Indian Army in the transportation of the troops and essential supplies quickly and safely.
Train to Leh – History in making
The engineering marvel will become reality after train to Leh will pass through 74 tunnels, 124 large bridges and 396 small bridges. The longest tunnel will be 27-km-long and will have India’s first rail station inside a tunnel at Keylong, which is generally mid-way halt between Manali and Leh. Over half of the length of the track will pass through tunnels and bridges. The train will suffer extreme weather conditions like snowfall and temperature dipping below minus 30 degrees C in some areas. To prevent passengers from cold and mountain sickness due to sudden altitude gain, aircraft-like pressurized coaches with the heating facility are planned to be built. The train will run at a speed of 75 kmph.
22 surveys through satellite image system for Bilaspur-Manali-Leh railway line
Updated on July 09, 2020
Himachal has assured the Centre of all possible cooperation from the government in land acquisition, forest and revenue related formalities in a bid to complete the Bilaspur-Manali-Leh railway line as soon as possible, an official said.
The officials of transport and forest department in presence of deputy commissioners from Bilaspur Una and Solan districts had a review meeting of railway projects with officials of Northern Railway through video conferencing. The meeting was presided over by transport minister Govind Singh Thakur. They discussed about under-construction and future projects of the railways in the state including Bhanupalli-Bilaspur-Beri, Kalka-Solan-Shimla and Pathankot-Jogindernagar railway lines.
“Expanding railway in Himachal is important from strategic point of view. An international agency has conducted 22 surveys through satellite image system for strategically important 475-km-long Bhanupalli-Bilaspur-Manali-Leh railway line. To make a train to Leh possible, another survey would be conducted with the help of radar. Ropeway and Rapid Transport System Development Corporation (RTDC), which looks after the ropeway works in the state, has been given responsibility to look after this railway project,” transport minister Govind Thakur said.
He added that Centre has given Rs 157cr for DPR of this project which will cost Rs 85 thousand crore to the nation. “Preliminary survey of the project is complete. Final location survey and land acquisition is continuing in four phases. Chief minister Jai Ram Thakur has made PM Modi and railway ministry aware of the present situation and assured of all possible help from the state in land acquisition and other requirements for early completion of the project,” he added.
Through video conferencing, information on all the railway projects of the state was sought from railway officials from Delhi, Ambala, Chandigarh and Firozpur. The minister directed all the officials to complete formalities including land acquisition soon.
Government of India has sped up the infrastructure building along the border areas following growing tension between India and China. The Bilaspur-Manali-Leh railway project, which has already been delayed, has also attracted government’s attention and final formalities are being completed on a war footing. This railway line will not only promote tourism in Himachal and Ladakh but also will strengthen the army.
After completion, this railway line will be the highest in the world. This engineering marvel will have 74 tunnels, 124 large bridges, 396 small bridges and 30 stations. The longest tunnel will be 27-km-long which will have India’s first rail station inside a tunnel at Keylong in Lahaul-Spiti district. Specially designed coaches will be pressurized to prevent passengers from becoming victim to altitude sickness and will have heating facility. Compared to the current three days travel time from Delhi to Leh, the train will be able to cover this distance in just one day.