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Engineers Develop Himalayan Tunnelling Method for Katra-Banihal Section of the Kashmir rail Link Project


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New Delhi (Metro rail News): The Engineers involved with the construction of the Kashmir Rail Link have developed a new Tunneling Method called the Himalayan tunnelling method to construct Tunnel-01 on the Katra-Banihal section of the  Kashmir rail link project. 

The length of the Tunnel would be 3.2 km with a tube shape. It is located at the foot of Trikuta hills in the Katra-Reasi section of the Project. The section has been termed as the most trickiest section of the project. 

To count, the challenges are: 

  1. Mountainous Terrain: The area is characterised by steep, mountainous terrain with varying elevations. The Himalayan mountains are known for their high peaks, deep valleys, and rugged landscapes. Such a terrain poses heavy and indispensable challenges for constructing Tunnels, etc. 
  2. Geological Challenges: The Himalayas are geologically active, with tectonic forces continuously shaping the landscape that results in complex geological conditions, such as the presence of different types of rocks, fault lines, and potential for landslides, which can pose significant challenges for tunnel construction.
  3. Harsh Weather Conditions: The Himalayan region experiences extreme weather conditions, including heavy snowfall in the winter and monsoon rains in the summer that can lead to issues such as snow accumulation, landslides, and flooding, which need to be considered in the design and construction of infrastructure projects like railways.

The New Tunneling method involves providing pre-excavation support measures to tackle the flowing conditions encountered while excavating the tunnel. It aims to stabilise the soil and rock structure before excavation begins. It differs significantly from NATM, as NATM primarily relies on immediate support using lattice girders and shotcrete after excavation. 

This method involves making stress-release holes and wing drainage holes to allow the strata to relax and lose water. This is done to address the geological challenges of the Himalayan terrain. NATM may use different methods for dealing with groundwater and strata pressure, but it doesn’t mention stress-release and drainage holes as part of its standard procedure.

The Himalayan Method is specifically developed to address the unique challenges of the Himalayan geological conditions. In contrast, the NATM is a widely recognised tunnelling method used in various parts of the world, including Austria, and adapted to local geological conditions.

The engineers also had to change the alignment of the train to ensure that a very short length of the rail link passed through the tricky terrain. 

Work on the rail link has held up since 2017, but the engineers hope to complete it by early next year. The project involves the construction of 27 main tunnels & 8 escape tunnels, along with 37 bridges that include 26 Major & 11 Minor bridges. 

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