Hindustan Construction Company (HCC) has smashed through to daylight on the Pir Panjal railway project. The India-based contractor’s 10.96km bore, part of the Udhampur to Srinagar to Baramulla rail link, became India’s longest and Asia’s second longest transportation tunnel at breakthrough on Friday.

“The INR 3.9bn (USD 79.2M) contract was awarded to HCC in August 2005. NATM was selected to deal with the variable geology,” said a HCC spokesman. “Eight different types of geological strata were found during surveys. This was the first large-scale use of NATM in India.”

The spokesman added, “The site was challenging. Overburden reached 1100m and temperatures could fall to as low as -10°C in winter.”

The tunnel was excavated to a width of 8.41m and a height of 7.39m. The HCC spokesman added that the project saw the use of road headers adopted for the first time in India.

The alignment runs through the Pir Panjal Mountains in Jammu and Kashmir, India. The completed tunnel will extend trains services from Qazigund to Banihal and up to Baramulla for client Northern Railway.