Railways have successfully completed construction of a crucial tunnel between the Katra-Qazigund section of the prestigious Kashmir rail link project.

“The major breakthrough came yesterday with the completion of the tunnel, the second in the section at Sangaldam in Ramban district of the valley,” said a Northern Railway spokesperson, adding that the work of the 1483-metre tunnel was completed in 28 months.

The Katra-Qazigund section involves 103 km of tunnels out of the total 129 km line. Almost 65 to 70 major and minor tunnels will be constructed on this section.

Earlier breakthrough of the first tunnel of 1671-metre length at Sangaldhan, was achieved on 29th July 2010.

Railways are considering the completion of the tunnel as a major achievement because it posed several engineering challenges.

“The tunnel passes through strata of poor geology, consisting of Muree formation. The excavation was done using drill and blast method. The tunnel excavation was done from two ends,” the spokesperson said.

After the break through, the alignment of the tunnel has been found to be perfect - a big achievement in the tunneling work, he said.

The spokesperson said 103 km of tunneling is a big challenge in itself for railways as the stretch passes through complex and changing Himalayan geology and adverse natural conditions. The Chenab and the Anji bridges also fall on this section.

The Kashmir rail link project is divided into three parts. The 119-km-long Qazigund-Baramulla section was the first to be completed about two years back and train service have already been introduced.

The Udhampur-Katra section is under construction.