Imphal: Union railway minister Suresh Prabhu on Saturday laid the foundation of the longest safety rail tunnel in the country on the Jiribam-Tupul-Imphal rail project in land-locked Manipur.
Prabhu also laid the foundation of a station building at Tupul and announced commencement of work on the second portal of tunnel No 12 at an event held on the parade ground of 1 Manipur Rifles in Imphal city.
The safety tunnel of tunnel No 12 will be 11.55 km long, surpassing the famous Pir Panjal tunnel on the Banihal-Qazigund line which is 11.2 km long. The 111-km-long Jiribam-Tupul-Imphal new broad gauge railway project was taken up in 2008 and was declared a national project.
A 12.5-km section from Jiribam to Dholakhal has been completed and commissioned for freight trains in March 2016. For the 84-km Jiribam-Tupul section, 29 of the 37 tunnels were completed till October this year.
Reiterating the government’s commitment to providing rail connectivity to the northeast, Prabhu said more provisions are being made for the creation of infrastructure in the region. The northeast has immense potential for tourism, which can open up greater avenues of employment, he added.
Construction of the tallest railway bridge of the world has begun and should be complete by March 2018, Prabhu said.
The height of the bridge, being constructed over the Irang river in Tamenglong district with a pier height of 141 metres, is equivalent to two Qutub Minars, railways officials said.
Governor of Manipur Najma Heptulla said the Jiribam-Tupul-Imphal railway project’s importance lies in its being an alternative means of transport in the difficult terrain of the state. The ease of connectivity could translate into an improvement in the economic sphere as well, she said.