The dream project of Government of India project to link Kashmir with rest of the country through all-weather rail network is likely to be realized by year 2023, said railway officials involved in the project.

They added that crucial six-kilometre long tunnel on the Katra-Banihal section got through today near Reasi. The tunnel was completed in 4 years at a cost of over Rs 550 crores.

The official maintained that Katra-Banihal section of the project is considered the toughest in the country’s engineering history and involves the construction of 27 bridges, including the tallest rail bridge in the world, and 37 tunnels, one of which is the longest in Asia at more than 12 kms.

“Most of the 111-km Katra-Banihal route will consist of tunnels (95 kms) and bridges,” railway officials said.

The officials said that railway line, which could become functional in four years, is seen as a big development push by the NarendraModi government in the Valley.

“Once commissioned, this project connects Kashmir Valley with the rest of the country by rail, which will enable trains to operate between New Delhi and Srinagar in just 14 hours,’ they added.

Costing over Rs 40,000 crores, it will provide all-weather connectivity and will be a cornerstone of the government’s outreach programme in the state.

According to Deputy Commissioner Reasi, InduChib, connecting Kashmir Valley with the rest of the country through rail is a big part of the Union government’s outreach programme