World’s highest railway bridge over the Chenab river in Jammu and Kashmir is soon to get operational for rail traffic.
The much-awaited world’s highest railway bridge spans the Chenab River at a height of 359 m (1,178 ft) above the river, which is 35 meters taller than Paris’ Eiffel Tower.
The arch bridge between Bakkal and Kauri in the Reasi district of Jammu and Kashmir is 1,178 feet above the riverbed, forming a crucial link from Katra to Banihal. It is part of the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Railway Link (USBRL), a dream project worth Rs 35000 crore.
The bridge has passed all the mandatory tests. However, the Chenab railway bridge is near completion at present as the incumbent regime laid a special focus on the project worth Rs 1400 crore.
The people of Jammu and Kashmir will get the bridge after two decades of waiting since the project was approved in 2003 but was delayed shortly due to fears of stability and safety.
In the year 2008, the contract for constructing one of the highest railway bridges was awarded by the then government.
With the passage of time, the construction of the bridge was started again, however, it missed several deadlines.
To make the bridge ready for commissioning, all the mandatory tests have been conducted successfully.
Union Minister of Railway, Communications and Electronic and Information Technology, Ashwini Vaishnaw has said that all the tests on Chenab Railway Bridge have been conducted and were successful.
The tests that have been conducted to check the stability and safety of the world’s highest bridge include high-velocity winds test, extreme temperatures test, earthquake-prone test and hydrological impacts due to water level increase.
The Railway Bridge is ready for commissioning; officials said and added that track lane work has been started over the bridge.
The Union Minister of Railway, Communications and Electronic and Information Technology, who visited the bridge for an inspection, has said that two more tests are to be conducted tomorrow, which include running a motor trolley and bolero customised rail operation on the bridge.
The base of the steel and concrete arch bridge, 42 kilometres from Reasi town, was completed in November 2017, allowing for the start of the construction of the main arch which was done in April 2021.
The milestone on the bridge was achieved in August last year when the overarch deck of the bridge was completed with a Golden Joint’, paving way for the laying of the track.
As per the officials, the construction work on the bridge started in 2004 but had to be suspended in 2008-09 to consider the aspect of the safety of rail passengers in view of frequent high-velocity winds in the area.
Once completed, the bridge will be able to withstand winds with speeds up to 260 kmph and will have a lifespan of 120 years, the officials said. Besides the highest railway bridge, the USBRL project has many firsts like the longest railway tunnel having an overall length of 12.75 km, the first cable-stayed bridge which when completed will be an engineering marvel of the 21st century.
Reportedly, the construction of the highest railway bridge was the biggest civil-engineering challenge faced by any railway project in India in recent history.
Over the last three years, engineers have been building the arch with the help of two mammoth cable cranes installed on both banks of the Chenab — the Kauri end and the Bakkal end, report said.