The Indian Railways has started final location survey along a 498 kms long Bilaspur-Manali-Leh line. This will be the highest railway line in the world if completed. Set to come up at a height of 3,300 meters, this railway line will be higher than the China Qinghai-Tibet Railway which to date is the highest.
With final location survey inaugurated by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, the work on this much awaited railway line commences. It will start at Bilaspur and will connect destinations such as Leh, Sunder Nagar Mandi, Manali, Tandi, Keylong, Koksar, Darcha, Upshi and Karu. The budget to carry out the survey is at an estimate of INR 157.77 crores, all of which is being funded by the Defence Ministry.
RITES, a railway PSU, is entrusted with the task of taking on this challenge which is expected to be completed b y 2019. As on date, the road along this stretch is open for only 5 months in the year. The new railway line, once commissioned, will prove to be a more convenient mode of transport for a lot of reasons.
It will bring about socio-economic benefits to the region and enhance tourism. Besides this new rail route, the Defence Ministry has also initiated rail lines along China, Nepal and Pakistan borders as strategic lines.
The images you see in the post, are from the Jammu–Baramulla line. This was one of the most difficult projects ever to be completed by Indian Railways. The Leh line will be an even tougher task. It is not clear as to what will be the cost to construct a railway line to Leh, but estimates put the figure in the region of INR 30,000 crore or more. More details will be revealed once the official survey is completed in 2019.