T-50: India’s longest transportation tunnel is now open

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled T-50, India’s longest transportation tunnel on the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Link (USBRL) on Tuesday, 20 Feb, 2024.

India’s longest transportation tunnel, on the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Link (USBRL), was unveiled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday when he launched the electrified trains in the Kashmir valley. According to a railway official Prime Minister Modi was in Jammu. Virtually initiated two trains simultaneously. One from Srinagar to Sangaldan in the southbound direction and another from Sangaldan to Srinagar heading northbound. As guests over 100 schoolchildren and their teachers enjoyed the journey, from both ends. Additionally, the prime minister inaugurated the 48.1-kilometer Banihal Khari Sumber Sangaldan section. The official mentioned that the longest tunnel known as T-50 stretching 12.77 kilometers falls within the Khari Sumber section.

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The Northern Railway (NR) has announced that trains are now able to travel from Baramulla to Sangaldan via Banihal, which was previously the starting station. The tunnel named T-50 is considered the challenging, among the 11 tunnels in the Banihal-Khari-Sumber-Sangadal section. Survey work on the tunnel began in 1996 with the tender being awarded in December 2013 resulting in a decade for it to become operational.

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Railway officials involved in the project have ensured all safety measures inside the tunnel for emergencies. An escape tunnel running parallel to T-50 has been constructed to evacuate passengers during emergencies. Additionally, connecting passages have been created every 375 meters between the escape tunnel and T-50 for passenger evacuation and transportation to their intended destinations using vehicles.

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Safety is at the heart of the T-50, India’s longest transportation tunnel

An official mentioned that water pipes have been installed on both sides of the T-50 tunnel to address fire incidents. Valves are placed every 375 meters along these pipes so that water can be sprayed on a train, from both directions to extinguish any flames swiftly.

“Other larger tunnels have also been equipped with escape routes” he mentioned. As, per officials from NR the inauguration of the Banihal-Khari-Sumber-Sangaldan stretch has moved them closer to realizing the vision of connecting a train route from Kashmir in the north to Kanyakumari, in the south of the country.

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What’s new?

Previously, eight diesel trains, four from each direction, were operational between Baramulla and Banihal. Today, Prime Minister Modi not only inaugurated the extension of the Banihal route to Sangaldan via Khari and Samber but also commenced the first electrified trains on the entire route from Baramulla to Sangaldan,” stated the official.

Currently, eight electrified trains are operational between Baramulla and Banihal, with four of them now extended to Sangaldan. “The remaining four trains will also be extended to Sangaldan within the next couple of months,” the official added. Experts involved in the T-50 tunnel project note that the first phase of the USBRL, the Quazigund-Baramulla section, was inaugurated by the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in 2009. The Banihal Quazigund section along, with the entrance of the 11.2 km long T 80 Pir Panjal tunnel became operational in July 2013.

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Also; On Tuesday, the Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan started a special train journey, departing from Sambalpur, the Sambalpur-Darshan Nagar-Sambalpur-Astha, the Special train transported 1,512 devotees from the western region of Odisha and Ayodhya.

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