A 16-member team of railway engineers, geologists, bridge specialists and avalanche experts, tosses various options towards a breakthrough.
This will be done by engineering a deep vertical cut to pushing the track towards the existing motor road.
If the Government of India has its way, a railway line up to Leh — a district in Ladakh sandwiched between Pakistan occupied Kashmir in the west and China in the north and east — will be a future reality.
The survey for a 498-km-long strategic railway line from Bilaspur (Himachal Pradesh) to Manali (HP) to Leh ( J&K) began in September last year.
The Ministry of Defence has earmarked Rs 158 crore to the Indian Railways for the survey, with Rs 40 crore released in 2016-17.
Depending on the gradients and the alignment, the route length could go up to 650 km, almost the same as the distance by road. But the big picture is this: strategically important Leh — just 250 km from the China border — will finally be connected to Delhi by an all-weather, 1,100-km-long rail route.
Though defence requirements are the basic rationale for conceiving a railway line passing through a difficult terrain and high passes – 17,480-ft-high Taglang La is one of the four passes on the way – the people living in Mandi, Manali, Tandi, Keylong, Koksar, Darcha, Upshi, Karu, among other towns and villages, will find rail connectivity closer to their homes.
The survey men are tight-lipped; a tentative cost will be known by the end of next year when the second phase of the three-phase survey is completed. But rough estimates have already put it at Rs 1 lakh crore.
With inputs from :The Economic Times
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