A rail new rail project connecting Kashmir with Jammu and the rest of the country has been inaugurated by the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi. The new 11.2 km long Pir Panjal Railway Tunnel or the Banihal-Qazigund Tunnel connecting the Bichleri Valley of Banihal with the Qazigund region of Kashmir Valley has been built and is operational.
The tunnel is the longest in India and Asia's third longest railway tunnel. The tunnel's has been constructed at an average elevation of 5,770 ft (1,760 m) and is 1,440 ft (440 m) below the existing road tunnel.
The tunnel has been constructed by Hindustan Construction Company (HCC) for IRCON International Limited, a Public Sector Undertaking, as part of its Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla rail link project.
The rail link tunnel will make transportation easy during winters, as during this season the severe weather forces the road tunnel on the Srinagar-Jammu highway to close down.
By 2018, the Udhampur-Banihal section of the Kashmir Railway will get constructed till then people will have to travel to Banihal by road and then take the train from Banihal to Srinagar.