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.