Mrunal Manmay Dash

The much-awaited Khordha-Bolangir railway project seems to finally see the dawn of the day soon with work on the tunnels in the route going on in full swing.

The entire route from Khordha to Bolangir will have seven railway tunnels, mostly in Boudh district. The longest one is being dug at Adenigarh. The one at Marding has reportedly been dug through.

As per reports, the tunnels are being dug with the New Austrian Tunneling method (NATM), also known as the sequential excavation method (SEM) or sprayed concrete lining method (SCL). It is a method of modern tunnel design and construction employing sophisticated monitoring to optimize various wall reinforcement techniques based on the type of rock encountered in the tunnel.

Speaking about the challenges in digging the tunnels and preparing them for the trains, Deputy Chief Engineer Ravindra Kumar Mohanty said, “Every tunnelling is challenging. The job becomes even more challenging when the strata is weak like what happened in Uttarkashi. It is difficult to design the support system for such a tunnel with clay strata. But we do not expect Uttarkashi-like situation here. This strata is far better than Uttarkashi. We do not have seepage like Uttarkashi.

“Tunnel number 4 is the longest one on this stretch, which is 4185mtr. Tunnel number 7 between Purunakatak and Charichhak is 1985mtr-long. Tunnel number 5 is 317mtr. Tunnel number 6 is 315mtre-long,” Mohanty said.

“We have kept the deadline of completing these tunnels by November 2025. If everything goes right and we find good strata, we will definitely finish them by then.

An engineer at the tunnel said, “We do not have anything to fear here. We have taken all kinds of safety measures. The design is finalised after considering the geological strata. The geological department prepares a detailed support system plan based on the strata and then we start excavation as per the recommendation.”

"This area, in particular, has a very less water seepage. So there is less risk in these tunnels. The tunnel has only been excavated now. We will undertake lining activities after this. And at the end, we will put concrete of around 600-700mm on it, so that the tunnel can bear the vibrations of a speedy train,” he added.

Speaking about the safety of the tunnel, a safety engineer working at the tunnel said, “Our job is to ensure the safety of the people working in the tunnel. We prepare the checklist for all the engineers and workers who go inside the tunnel every day.”

It is pertinent to mention here that a total of 152.805 km of rail line work has been commissioned out of 301 km. The Railways has been constructing the line from both sides, i.e., from Khordha Road and Bolangir for early completion of the project.

East Coast Railway (ECoR) is committed to developing Railway infrastructure in the region and working dedicatedly to complete the project at the earliest.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had earlier dedicated two sections of the line from Bolangir up to Jhartarbha.

Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw consistently monitors the progress of this project in Odisha and the ministry has given priority to the early completion of the Khordha Road Bolangir Rail Line project.

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