Indian Railways begins the final location survey of the 498 km long Bilaspur – Manali – Leh line at Leh in Jammu and Kashmir. Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu inaugurated the work for the final location survey on June 27. This ambitious rail project is touted to become the world’s highest rail track coming up at an elevation of 3,300 meters, leaving behind Qinghai – Tibet Railway in China.
India’s Defence Ministry has identified the all-weather Leh rail network as one of the four most important railway connectivities along the Chinese border. The survey, funded by the Defence Ministry, will be made with an estimated cost of INR 157.77 cr. The final location survey will be done by RITES (Railway Infrastructure Technical and Economic Services). This proposed rail line will connect all major locations between Bilaspur and Leh – namely, Manali, Tandi, Keylong, Darcha, Upshi and Karu among others.
A senior Railway Ministry official stated that “RITES has deployed its expert team to carry out this challenging task. The survey will be carried out in three phases and is slated to be completed by 2019.” The line connecting from Bilaspur (Himachal Pradesh) to Leh (Jammu and Kashmir) is expected to boost “socio-economic benefits” in the region, including tourism. Fourteen strategic lines have been identified by this project. Bilaspur-Manali-Leh, Missamari-Tenga-Tawang, North Lakhimpur-Bame-Silapathar and Pasighat-Tezu-Rupai will be taken up in the first phase. The Bilaspur-Manali-Leh line is along Himachal-J&K border and the last three lines are along the Assam-Arunachal border. Once the Bilaspur-Manali-Leh railway line is completed, Leh will be directly connected to Himachal Pradesh and the rest of India by railways.