Lowari Tunnel project- A suggestion for road tunnel.
CHIITRAL: Lowari Tunnel having the total length (distance) of 8.5 kilometers has become a reality -A dream come true for Chitralis and a milestone in the history of Chitral indeed. NHA and the Sambu Construction Company vehicles are plying comfortably through the tunnel from end to end which proves the tunnel is now fit to take in vehicles.
The next step planned for the tunnel is the laying of a rail track through it, which will cost another five billion rupees estimated. The important point here is to re-think as to whether we really need a rail track through the tunnel when all kinds of vehicles are already capable of driving through it ?
Even, if we, for a moment overlook its whooping initial cost, railway service through the tunnel is an avoidable external factor and additional liability with all its associated problems like operating cost, maintenance, mismanagement, breakdowns etc besides causing an unnecessary wastage of time in loading/unloading of vehicles on the train at both ends. Involving a rail system should best be avoided when the tunnel, without it, is fully capable of doing the needful?
There are much longer, equally narrow, tunnels in Europe including the 1980 constructed Gothard tunnel in the Swiss alps which is 16.3 Km long and is a single lane road tunnel. In the case of the Lowari tunnel at most a couple of additional ventilation ducts may be needed to be installed for the tunnel to be used as a regular road tunnel. Giving block timings for up/down traffic can regulate traffic through the tunnel. (The proposed rail system also is a one-way system)
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