Railways in the Himalayas

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jis

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With the Kashmir Rail Link nearing completion, it might be worthwhile looking at the other planned railway construction in and across the Himalayas. Here is an article on the planned rail lines that are currently in various stages of development:

https://thediplomat.com/2016/12/trans-himalayan-railroads-and-geopolitics-in-high-asia/

Some more details and cost estimates for the projects in India for the Himachal - Ladakh and Kashmir Valley - Ladakh rail Links:

http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/nation/railway-lines-in-himalayas-face-economic-challenge/95291.html

https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/india-begins-work-on-himachal-ladakh-rail-link-339352-2016-09-05

The Indian project(s) are costed at around $32 billion over 10-15 years, a few billion more than the entire Gateway Project in NY/NJ. By the time it is all said and done, it will probably be nearing $50 billion though, given the experience of the Kashmir Rail link.

And an old article from 2007 on the feasibility study of the Karakoram Railway which was then costed at $10 billion, so it is probably closer to $20 billion by now.

https://pamirtimes.net/2011/07/03/feasibility-for-411-mile-rail-link-between-pakistan%e2%80%99s-town-of-havelian-and-khunjerab-completed/

If nothing else, these lines will bring a quantum leap of prosperity to areas that have been poor mainly due to their inaccessibility and inhospitable environment, specially in the bitter cold winters.
 
I find traveling up in the high plateaus and extremely high passes of the Himalayas an unforgettable, unique experience, in spite of the occasional altitude sickness involved. Very few people are lucky enough to not get any altitude sickness at such altitudes. Carefully planned acclimatization reduces the effect considerably. The very thought that the high pass that you are standing at is higher than the highest peaks in some other continents is well somewhat mind-boggling, specially in an oxygen deprived foggy mind
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Sounds impressive - I'd like to see the foothills with the lush forests.

I too suffer from altitudinal adjustment issues as I age. When I was a kid and we went to the Rockies to ski, the first day would always be at the easy ski area. When I went to Utah a couple years ago, I really felt the altitude the second day after the eleven four peak we hiked - see planes below us was cool though.
 
Wait another few years and then ride the Srinagar Rajdhani Express from New Delhi across the high Chenab Steel Arch bridge and through the 8 mile Pir Panjal Tunnel into Kashmir Valley in Air Conditioned First Class comfort!

As the great Mughal Emperor Jahangir (Father of Shah Jahan of Taj Mahal fame) said of Kashmir:

"Agar Firdaws ba roy-i zamin ast, hamin ast-u hamin ast-u hamin ast,”
meaning, “If there is Paradise on earth, it is this, it is this, it is this."

Emperor Jahangir once said about Kashmir: "Agar Firdaws ba roy-i zamin ast, hamin ast-u hamin ast-u hamin ast,” meaning, “If there is Paradise on earth, it is this, it is this, it is this."
 
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It is not Hindi. Mughals generally used some dialect of Persian.

If it was spoken in Hindi it would have been something like:

"Agar kahin bhi swarg hai, woh yahin hai, yahin hai, yahin hai"
 
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Another trans-Himalayan line in the making:

India Plans to Build Raxaul Kathmandu Line

This in conjunction with China planning to connect Lhasa to Kathmandu by rail, will suddenly create an international trans-Himalayan rail link, albeit with a break in gauge at Kathmandu! Can't wait to travel from Kolkata to Lhasa by train, with a spectacular view of the Himalayas and Mt. Everest out the right hand side!
 
The first trip of the new vistadome train coaches on the Mangaluru to Bengaluru express train was flagged off from Mangaluru Junction on Sunday, July 11. According to reports, the two coaches were fully booked, and around 80 passengers travelled on Train No 06540, from Mangaluru Junction to Yesvanthpur Junction in Bengaluru, on its first journey with the vistadome coaches. The vistadome coaches, which replaced two general coaches, include a glass-dome ceiling and glass windows, through which passengers can take in breathtaking views of the Western Ghats.


Watch: New vistadome coaches make debut on Mangaluru-Bengaluru train
 
Speaking of railways in the Himalayas.... The tallest steel arch for a railway bridge has been completed with the joining of the two halves across the Chenab River. This is part of the Kashmir Rail Link being built connecting Katra in the Jammu district with Banihal adjacent to the Pir Panjal Tunnel across the range of the same name, under Banihal Pass. Train service is already running on the portion in Kashmir Valley between Banihal and Baramula close to the LOC (Line Of Control) between India and POK (Pakistan Occupied Kashmir which Pakistan refers to as Azad Kashmir). Katra at the other end is connected to the India network through Jammu.

https://www.financialexpress.com/in...ays-engineering-marvel-chenab-bridge/2234366/
The first trip of the new vistadome train coaches on the Mangaluru to Bengaluru express train was flagged off from Mangaluru Junction on Sunday, July 11. According to reports, the two coaches were fully booked, and around 80 passengers travelled on Train No 06540, from Mangaluru Junction to Yesvanthpur Junction in Bengaluru, on its first journey with the vistadome coaches. The vistadome coaches, which replaced two general coaches, include a glass-dome ceiling and glass windows, through which passengers can take in breathtaking views of the Western Ghats.


Watch: New vistadome coaches make debut on Mangaluru-Bengaluru train
I have never quite figured out why Indian Railways insist on misusing a term so flagrantly. The car is neither a Dome and is only marginally Vista.

This is what a real Vista Dome car looks like:

Vista_Dome_car.jpg
 
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Further extension of the Kashmir Rail link from its current terminus at Bramulla all the way to the LoC (Line of Control) at Uri has been funded and tenders floated for it:

https://www.greaterkashmir.com/kashmir/50-km-baramulla-uri-railway-line-in-offing
This is an 50km extension Westwards from Baramulla. This is in addition to the earlier approved 37km Baramulla (actually Sopore) - Kupwara Northern Branch.

One thing to note in the photo in the article is the electrification. The entire Kashmir Valley Line from Banihal to Baramulla has been electrified. All the necessary tests and certification were completed in the recent past, and commercial service will begin using MEMUs replacing the current DEMUs as soon as enough rolling stock can be transported over by road - on October 2, 2023.

Meanwhile the first diesel powered test train ran from Banihal to Khari (used to be known as Arpinchal previously) on the Northern end of the under construction Katra - Banihal section joining the Kashmir Valley Railway to the Indian Railways network. That segment is ready for operation including electrification. Electrification is also in evidence on the Chenab Steel Arch Bridge which we have followed the construction of in this and another thread here. There is now realistic talk of initial skeletal service starting in late 2024.

Meanwhile the enormous network of roads that has been constructed to support the construction of this line has already been a godsend for the local population travel between villages that in the past could take the best part of a day over mountain tracks are now routine done by bus. Kids can now go to schools and everyone is already better connected to the outside world.is a few hours. The incidental infrastructure developed has already transformed the area even before a single train has traveled on the line.
 
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Meanwhile the enormous network of roads that has been constructed to support the construction of this line has already been a godsend for the local population travel between villages that in the past could take the best part of a day over mountain tracks are now routine done by bus. Kids can now go to schools and everyone is already better connected to the outside world.is a few hours. The incidental infrastructure developed has already transformed the area even before a single train has traveled on the line.
Are they laying fiber optic cable (any of the countries) while they are at it?
 
Are they laying fiber optic cable (any of the countries) while they are at it?
Along the track? Of course. With lot of it dark for now. It is used for implementing the control and signal system and also the terrestrial part of the Kavach PTC system functionally equivalent to ERTMS L2.
 
Along the track? Of course. With lot of it dark for now. It is used for implementing the control and signal system and also the terrestrial part of the Kavach PTC system functionally equivalent to ER L2.
If they lease unused circuits for telecommunications that'll change life there, for good and for bad.
 
The Kashmir Rail Link is now planned for commercial service sometime in 2024. Planning documents have come to light identifying specific trains and their timings. Only two daily long distance trains and a few 3-4 times a week trains, and dozens of weekly trains are going to be extended from Jammu Tawi or Katra where they terminate now, to Badgam, which is the station immediately to the North of Srinagar with adequate long distance train turning facilities. The weekly trains use a couple of designated slots from Delhi and Ambala to Jammu Tawi thus making for additional daily service from those places. Only these have non-AC service.

Among those slated for extension are:

New Delhi - Jammu Tawi Rajdhani Express (daily)
New Delhi - Katra Vande Bharat Express (daily)
Howrah - Jammu Tawi Himgiri Express (4 times a week)
Some train from Mumbai I didn't quite catch (4 times a week)

and

dozens of weekly trains from almost every corner of India that terminate in Jammu Tawi or Katra at present.

Schedule running time from Jammu Tawi to Badgam will be a little over 6 hours, so most of these trains will not require any additional consists. They will just be running instead of sitting at the terminal the whole day waiting for the return trip.

North of Katra the stops on the LD trains will be Banihal, Anantnag, Avantipura, Srinagar-Kashmir and Badgam.

Of course there will be local trains (MEMUs) between Jammu and Badgam and between Banihal and Baramulla in addition to these.
 
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Sorry for the tangent here, but what language is that? Hindi?

I never really thought much about Hindi before, but assuming ast is the verb, does hamin mean here and zamin mean there?
I finally had a chance to look at this...

In Persian...

Firdaus is paradise/heaven
Zamin is earth or ground (same as in Urdu)
Hamin ast is "it is here", the -u is just a connector artifact I think.
 
Strictly speaking this is a railway to the North and East of the Himalayas, but at least its western end is in the Yarlung Zangbo Valley. Somewhat like the Kashmir Rail Link, in this case, the East and West ends in relatively easy construction areas have been built and put into service. The difficult middle section is under construction and will likely be put in service in 2030. When completed, it will be the first electrified conection between China and Tibet. The Lhasa - Nyingchi segment is the first electrified railway in Tibet. The current link to Lhasa is not electrified.

https://www.tibettour.org/how-to-get-to-tibet/sichuan-tibet-railway.html
Two projects currently unrelated that are under construction open interesting possibilities:

1. China is constructing a branch line from the Lhasa - Xegaze Zangbo Valley line starting at Gynagze south to Yadong, very close to Nathu La Pass that is the border between China and India.

2. India is constructing a line up from Sivok in Teesta Valley in the plains, to Rangpo, eventually to be extended to Gangtok in Sikkim and Nathu La Pass.

Open up possibility of a cross border link, though with a gauge break (1435mm/4'8.5" to 1667mm/5'6").
 
Open up possibility of a cross border link, though with a gauge break (1435mm/4'8.5" to 1667mm/5'6").
Such gauge breaks should not be a major problem. There is a significant amount of rail traffic (both passenger and freight) between the former Soviet countries and Europe as well as between France and Spain. I don't think its likely that India will do a Spain at any time in the forseeable future and convert to standard gauge,
 
Such gauge breaks should not be a major problem. There is a significant amount of rail traffic (both passenger and freight) between the former Soviet countries and Europe as well as between France and Spain. I don't think its likely that India will do a Spain at any time in the forseeable future and convert to standard gauge,
Gauge breaks, specially for passenger trains are now quite manageable using technology for quick gauge conversion of the wheel trucks, without requiring to change out the trucks.

Yeah, converting 64,000 miles would be quite a projects not to mention changing out the tens of thousands of rolling stock pieces. It is not going to happen.
 
Given the border disputes, I assume the impetus to construct rail lines in those areas may be driven more by contingency planning, a possible need to move large amounts of "personnel and equipment" rapidly?
Indeed. That is what is driving the construction of various difficult lines into and across the Himalayas, including the planned and surveyed line to Leh in Ldakh, the Jammu- Poonch line along the LOC in J&K, and the branch to Kupwara and extensoin from Baramulla to Uri in J&K. In the East all the extensions into Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Bhutan and the various Northeastern States also fall in that category to some extent, even though the Eastern border is mostly with Myanmar and not with China.
 
Interesting that there may be a Delhi - Beijing service (or something like it) someday.
It might happen someday, or not. Political considerations may intervene in unpredictable ways as the whole situation is fraught.

At present it would look like three distinct possibilities of which two are across the Himalayas and one not.

The two across the Himalayas would be (West to East)

1. Through Kathmandu, as both India and China are building lines to Kathmandu from their respective territories. The work from the China end is currently suspended pending China's economy improving. The work from India is happening but not at the fastest of pace. Both will be electrified lines.

2. Through Nathu La as mentioned above. The connections towards such are being developed for internal purposes at both ends. China to the district HQ at Yadong, and India to State Capital of Sikkim at Gangtok. India has said that it will build to Nathu La. China has not said much publicly as yet. But in some Belt and Road Initiative documents that route has made appearances.

The non-Himalayan one is through Myanmar a notional Kolkata - Kunming link via Bangladesh (Joshore - Dhaka - Akhaura - Agartala - Manipur - Myanmar - Kunming). Lots of gaps to fill before that can happen, including laying the first standard gauge track in Myanmar. Gauge break will be at the India/ Myanmar border.

These appear in various "I have a dream" type of documents, backed by some actual construction along those lines. But they are several decades away at best - maybe by the late second quarter of the century at the earliest, for the first one, if the political stars happen to align t the right time.
 
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A section of the remaining 111km is complete and service will likely commence in January between Banihal and Khari, 14+km which is mostly in tunnels.

https://kashmirconvener.com/2023/12...ihal-khari-rail-section-ready-for-operations/
Of the 111km currently under construction, 98km is in tunnels and 4km or so on bridges, leaving only 8km on open surface. The last tunnel breakthrough happened last week. All longer tunnels have a parallel connected escape tunnel.
 
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