India is currently building the world’s highest railway line.The proposed 465km-long Bilaspur-Manali-Leh route will include 74 tunnels, 124 major bridges and 396 minor bridges—reducing the travel time from Delhi to Leh from 40 hours to 20 hours.
According to an official source, the project will cost of Rs 83,360 crore, the railway line will pass through the Shivaliks, the Himalayas and the Zanskar range along with four mountain passes: Rohtang La, Barlacha La, Lachung La and Tangla La. Enroute, it will connect important locations between Bilaspur and Leh, such as Sundernagar, Mandi, Manali, Keylong, Koksar, Darcha, Upshi and Karu, plus cater to the other towns of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. Its contender, China’s Qinghai-Tibet line, connects Xining in Qinghai to the Tibetian capital of Lhasa.
In Bilaspur, the line will commence at an elevation of 500 metres and culminate in Leh at 3,215 metres. The highest point on the route will be Tanglangla Pass at 5,360 metres. More than half of the line will be underground. Close to the Sino-India border, the line will feature a 27-km long tunnel with Keylong station inside—the first station in a tunnel on the Indian Railway network.
Railway officials have also proposed the plan to be declared a national project, which means a big chunk of funding should come from the central government as it’ll help the armed forces and boost tourism. As per the plan, the railway line is slated to be completed by 2022.