Banihal and its tunnels


This is the station at Banihal, a somewhat nondescript place but an important point on the way from Jammu to Kashmir. In the vicinity we have:

  1. The longest railway tunnel in India, which is likely to remain the longest in the foreseeable future.
  2. For the moment, the longest road tunnel in India though it is likely to lose this position some time in 2016, and
  3. In a few years, a new road tunnel which will be among the longest in India. It will replace the existing road tunnel.

Let us take a closer look at these. The Pir Panjal rail tunnel was opened for traffic in 2013 and links Banihal with Qazigund (though there is a smaller station at Hillal Shahabad just north of the tunnel). This tunnel is 11.2 km long. The next longest rail tunnel is the Karbude tunnel on the Konkan line which is a mere 6.5 km long.

More about it here:

It may be noted that the distance by rail between Banihal and Qazigund is 17 km as compared to 35 km by road.

If you travel by road, you would cross the Jawahar Tunnel which at 2.85 km is the longest road tunnel functioning in India at the time of writing. It was opened in 1956. More about it here:

This map gives an idea of the distance saved by the rail tunnel. Its ends are marked by the little gold stars.

Banihal rail

The long straight portion of road seen slightly to the right of centre marks the Jawahar tunnel.

However, that is not the end of the tunnel story for Banihal as a new road tunnel 8.45 km long is expected to be opened within a short time:

“New double road tunnel

Construction of a new 8.45 km (5.25 mi) long Banihal-Qazigund road tunnel started in 2011 to widen NH 1A to four lanes. It is a double tube tunnel consisting of two parallel tunnels – one for each direction of travel. Each tunnel is 7 metre wide tunnel and has two lanes of road. The two tunnels are interconnected by a passage every 500 metres for maintenance and emergency evacuation. The tunnel will have forced ventilation for extracting smoke and stale air and infusing fresh air. It will have state of the art monitoring and control systems for security.

The new tunnel’s average elevation at 1,790 m (5,870 ft) is 400 metre lower than the existing Jawahar tunnel‘s elevation and would reduce the road distance between Banihal and Qazigund by 16 km (9.9 mi). The new tunnel would also be less prone to snow avalanche as it will be at a lower elevation. The vehicles will have to pay toll tax to use the tunnel.

Most of the boring has been completed.”

This will probably be the third longest road tunnel in India, after the so called Patnitop bypass (9.2 km) in the Jammu region and the Rohtang tunnel (8.8 km) in Himachal Pradesh which are all likely to be functioning by 2017 if not earlier.




Update to the Lumding-Silchar line

This is an update to my earlier post of June 25-you may like to have a look at it first:

As things turned out, our optimism was misplaced and the Commissioner of Railway Safety felt that the line was not fit for passenger traffic, although goods trains continued to run.

After all approvals, regular passenger services were formally inaugurated on Nov 21. The only passenger train on this section is a passenger train from Guwahati, which has  SL and unreserved class at the moment. It can be called a fast passenger as it has only one stop between Guwahati and Lumding.

Here are the timetables for these trains:





This also marked the resumption of direct trains between these cities, which had stopped since the early 1990s when the broad gauge reached Lumding. Prior to that there were two express trains, the 11/12 Barak Valley Express and the 201/202 Cachar Express running on this route. In Nov 1983 there were two other passenger trains on this route, one between Lumding and Badarpur and another called the Tripura Passenger, between Lumding and the then railhead at Dharmanagar.

It will be instructive to compare the timings of these trains from the Nov 1983 Bradshaw with the present timings.

Barak Valley TT

The broad gauge conversion and associated realignment (which shortened the route by about 16 km) has resulted in considerable speeding up-13 hours as compared to 17-19 hours in the past. Presumably these trains were hauled by YDM-4s at that time.

More trains can be expected on this route in the near future. Once the connecting lines to Agartala and elsewhere are completed, we can look forward to Rajdhani and Sampark Kranti Expresses as well.



Mitchell Johnson-a statistical tribute

Some interesting angles on Mitchell Johnson’s career as a bowler and all-rounder in Tests:

There have not been too many left-arm pace bowlers who lasted long in Tests. Here is a list of all 12 who took over 100 wickets:


Johnson is in third place here, having crept past Zaheer Khan in the course of the Perth test. He stands 5th out of 12 in the bowling averages. Now we come to something strange. He has the worst economy rate of 3.33 as well as the best strike rate of 51.1 among his fellow left-arm pacers.

Now we see how he compares with other Australian bowlers of all varieties-13 of whom have taken 200-plus wickets in Tests:


Note the inevitable omission of the Aus-ICC XI Test.

Here Mitchell is 4th in wickets taken, a little ahead of Brett Lee. His average of 28.40 is 10th in this list. As in the above table, his economy rate and strike rate are quite divergent. His economy rate of 3.33 is better than only that of Brett Lee. But his strike rate is the best at 51.1, a little ahead of McGrath and Lillee.

Considering his all-round ability: he did not reach the levels of the “next Miller” as his early 90s and 100 seemed to indicate, but he did achieve 2000-plus runs in addition to his 313 wickets.

Here we compare oranges with oranges, i.e. with other all-rounders who batted left-handed, bowled left-arm pace and crossed 2000 runs and 100 wickets:


Only four players in Test history fit these criteria, and Mitchell ranks 4th among them if you take the difference in batting and bowling averages.

Finally, we compare his figures to Australian all-rounders of all kinds who scored 2000 runs and 100 wickets:


Only 4 here-and not everyone would call Warne an all-rounder. Here Mitchell comes third, ahead of Warne.

Anyway let us wish him a happy retirement as he has retired from all international cricket as well as first-class cricket.


The longest railway tunnels in India

The list of long railway tunnels in India has seen considerable changes in the last quarter century.

We start with the Wikipedia article as it was on Nov 16, 2015:

List of rail tunnels in India by length
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This is a list of the longest rail tunnels in India. In considering tunnels for this section, tunnels of underground metro railways have not been counted. Only tunnels on the main Indian Railways network longer than 2,000 metres (6,600 ft) have been listed.



Most of the tunnels listed below are located in the Western Ghats, the only mountain range in the country that has good railway connectivity. There are longer tunnels that are under construction in the Himalayas in Jammu & Kashmir, as part of the USBRL Project.Pir Panjal Railway Tunnel, the 11.2 km long railway tunnel, passes through the Pir Panjal Range of middle Himalayas in Jammu and Kashmir. It is a part of its Udhampur – Srinagar – Baramulla rail link project, India’s longest railway tunnel and reduced the distance between Quazigund and Banihal .[1]

The list

Sl. No Name Length km Station Station State Divisions Year Coordination
1. Pir Panjal Railway Tunnel 11,215 metres (36,795 ft) Banihal Hillar Shahabad Jammu and Kashmir Northern Railway 2013 33.5617942°N 75.1988626°E
2. Karbude (T-35) 6,506 metres (21,345 ft) Ukshi Bhoke Maharashtra Konkan Railway 1997 17°6′9″N 73°24′59″E
3. Nathuwadi (T-6) 4,389 metres (14,400 ft) Karanjadi Diwan Khavati Maharashtra Konkan Railway 1997 17°53′37″N 73°23′14″E
4. Tike (T-39) 4,077 metres (13,376 ft) Ratnagiri Nivasar Maharashtra Konkan Railway 1997 16°58′48″N 73°23′42″E
5. Berdewadi (T-49) 4,000 metres (13,000 ft) Adavali Vilawade Maharashtra Konkan Railway 1997 16°53′43″N 73°36′22″E
6. Savarde (T-17) 3,429 metres (11,250 ft) Kamathe Savarde Maharashtra Konkan Railway 1997 17°27′35″N 73°31′19″E
7. Barcem (T-73) 3,343 metres (10,968 ft) Balli Canacona Goa Konkan Railway 1997 15°3′49″N 74°1′54″E
8. Karwar (T-80) 2,950 metres (9,680 ft) Karwar Harwada Karnataka Konkan Railway 1997
9. Chowk (T-3) 2,830 metres (9,280 ft) Panvel Karjat Maharashtra Central Railway 2006 18°55′5″N 73°17′10″E
10. Parchuri (T-27) 2,628 metres (8,622 ft) Sangameshwar Ukshi Maharashtra Konkan Railway 1997 17°9′30″N 73°28′57″E
11. Khowai (T-2) 2,472 metres (8,110 ft) Mungiabari Teliamura Tripura Northeast Frontier Railway 2008
12. Sangar (T-4) 2,445 metres (8,022 ft) Sangar Manwal Jammu and Kashmir Northern Railway 2005
13. Monkey Hill (T-25C) 2,156 metres (7,073 ft) Karjat Khandala Maharashtra Central Railway 1982
14. Aravali (T-21) 2,100 metres (6,900 ft) Aravali Sangameshwar Maharashtra Konkan Railway 1997
15. Chiplun (T-16) 2,033 metres (6,670 ft) Chiplun Kamathe Maharashtra Konkan Railway 1997 17°29′45″N 73°31′50″E
16. Saranda(T-1) 2,000 metres (6,600 ft) Goilkera Sarenda Halt Jharkhand South Eastern Railway 1900 25°00′00″N 85°30′45″E

The alert Mumbaikar may ask “What about the Parsik tunnel?” It is only 1.3 km long and thus fails to qualify for the 2-km cutoff in the above list. It was not even the longest rail tunnel in India when it was opened in 1916, as the longer Saranda tunnel was already open since 1900. In undivided India the 3.92 km long Khojak tunnel in Baluchistan had been opened in 1892; for more details see :

This was in fact the longest rail tunnel in South Asia until the Konkan Railway opened in the late 1990s. As you can see from the above list, the majority of the long tunnels are on the Konkan route. The longest is the Karbude tunnel at 6.5 km. Some other longer tunnels opened in recent years the Sangar tunnel (2.4 km) on the Jammu-Udhampur section and the slightly longer Khowai tunnel on the Karimganj-Agartala section which is currently under conversion from MG to BG.

However, the longest tunnel on IR is the 11.2 km long Pir Panjal tunnel between Banihal and Qazigund which provides a link between Jammu and Srinagar. More details can be seen here:

Opened in 2013, it will be part of the main route into the Kashmir valley once the problem-ridden section between Katra and Banihal is completed in the next few years. At the moment it serves a number of DMU passenger trains between Banihal and Baramulla (though some run only upto Budgam just north of Srinagar). These trains seem to be popular with the local people at the Banihal end as they save a lot of time and distance compared to the road route between Banihal and Qazigund. And the rail route is far less likely to be disrupted by snow than the road route.

It is likely to be the longest rail tunnel in India for a long time to come. There is expected to be a 7-km long tunnel on the uncompleted Katra-Banihal section which would take over the second spot from the Karbude tunnel. It will still exceed the two long road tunnels under construction at the Rohtang Pass and Patnitop, although the latter would also result in a considerable saving in distance on the Udhampur-Banihal road route:

“A 9.2 km long tunnel (Chenani-Nashri Tunnel) is being constructed about 2 km from Chenani town. The tunnel will be the India’s longest road tunnel when completed. It will reduce the distance from Chenani to Nashri by 31 km and reduce traffic jams on NH-1A that occur due to snowfall and avalanche in winter at Patnitop. About 2 km of the tunnel had been excavated by April 2012,[4] about 50% of the length had been excavated by January 2013.[5] and the excavation was completed in July 2015. The road in the tunnel may open in the second half of 2016.

In addition to the main road tunnel, there will be a smaller parallel escape tunnel for emergency services and extraction of smoke and persons in case of fire and accident.

The Southern portal (end) of the tunnel is at 33.0463°N 75.2793°E and the Northern portal (end) of the tunnel is at coordinates 33.1285°N 75.2928°E. When the tunnel is completed, the highway will no longer pass through Patnitop. The tunnel will reduce the length of the highway by 31 km and the highway will bypass Patnitop.”