In a significant step, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on Saturday laid the foundation stone in Badrinath for the final location survey of an ambitious Rs 43,000-crore project to link the four important Hindu shrines in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand. Rail Vikas Nigam Limited, a Public Sector Enterprise under Ministry of Railways was entrusted to undertake the Final Location Survey for rail connectivity to Chardham and Chardham Yatra. According to Prabhu, rail connectivity to Chardham will facilitate devotees’ travel to the famous Himalayan shrines–Gangotri, Yamunotri, Badrinath and Kedarnath–even in adverse climatic conditions. Reflecting on the development, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat described the proposed project as a milestone in the development of the state.
#Rail2CharDham will provide Rail Connectivity to the Char Dhams of Gangotri,Yamunotri,Kedarnath and Badrinath via Dehradun and Karanprayag
— Suresh Prabhu (@sureshpprabhu) May 13, 2017
What is Char Dham rail link ?
The Char Dham rail link is an ambitious railway project in Uttarakhand with an aim to promote pilgrimage as well as tourism. It proposes a single broad gauge rail line connectivity to the Char Dham and envisages to usher in a new era of safe and comfortable travel. An estimated Rs 43,292 crore is likely to be spent on the project. This is the second major gift from the Narendra Modi government to the state after the Rs 12,000 crore all-weather Char Dham roads project. The project is also being touted as one which has the potential to script engineering marvel in the history of world railways by connecting far-flung areas besides boosting opportunities for the economic development.
Core details of the project, proposed routes and other logistics
The route length of the Char Dham rail link is 327 km and it will have 21 new stations. It will also pass through 61 tunnels and 59 bridges. The railway line will start from Doiwala near Dehradun for Gangotri and Yamunotri, while for Kedarnath and Badrinath, it will start from Karnaprayag. According to officials, the Doiwala-Gangotri line will be 131 km long and for Yamunotri another 22 km of tracks will be laid from Maneri.
— Central Railway (@Central_Railway) May 13, 2017
On the other hand, a 99 km rail link will be laid between Karnaprayag and Sonprayag for Kedarnath and another 75 km long track will be laid between Karnaprayag and Joshimath for Badrinath.
In addition, railway reservation counters will be set up in Kedarnath and Badrinath in order to save residents of surrounding areas from the trouble of going all the way to the district headquarters to book a train ticket.
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu’s views on the project
Admitting that the project would be an engineering challenging feat, the railway minister said, “People all over the country want to visit Char Dham at least once in their lifetime. A rail link project in the area will make it more convenient for them as the pilgrimage will not have to face obstructions like landslides and bad weather.” He said that state-of-the-art technology will be put to use to ensure that no harm is caused to the fragile Himalayan ecology. He also stated that a large chunk of the budget will be spent on measures to prevent calamities like landslides and conserve the environment.