The construction of the arch of the world’s highest railway bridge that soars 359 meters above the bed of the Chenab river in Jammu and Kashmir was completed recently, with the Northern Railways zone of Indian Railways terming the achievement a milestone. The 1.3 kilometer-long bridge will provide the much-needed all-weather connectivity between Kashmir and the rest of the county and it is being constructed at a cost of ₹1,486 crores as part of the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Railway Link (USBRL) project. The bridge is part of an ambitious 272-km rail link project and is being constructed by the Northern Railway at an estimated cost of ₹28,000 crores.
The preparations of the rail link began in 2002 and the initial plan was to connect Kashmir’s northernmost city Baramulla to New Delhi. The project was given high priority by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Atal Bihari Vajpayee government but the project suffered several delays owing to the weather conditions and contractual issues, according to officials. Work on the bridge started again in July 2017 with the aim of completing the construction by the end of 2019 but due to contractual issues in 2018, it was delayed. The coronavirus pandemic also added to the delay in the construction of the project and the revised guideline for the completion of the project has now been for December 2021.
Salient features of the arch of the Chenab Bridge
- This bridge is 1315m long.
- It will be 35 meters higher than the iconic Eiffel Tower in Paris (France).
- Approximately 584 kilometers of welding was done to join the different parts of the structure, which is to the tune of the distance between Jammu Tawi to New Delhi
- Construction of Bridge involved fabrication of 28,660 MT steel, 10 Lakh Cum Earthwork, 66,000 Cum Concrete, and 26 Km motorable roads.
- The arch consists of steel boxes. Concrete will be filled in boxes of the Arch to improve stability.
- The overall weight of Arch is 10,619 MT.
- Erection of the members of the arch by overhead cable cranes done for the first time on Indian Railways.
- The most sophisticated ‘Tekla’ software used for structural detailing.
- The bridge will be able to withstand earthquakes with a magnitude of up to eight and high-intensity blasts.
In a tweet, PM Modi said, “Indians’ capability and confidence are today presenting an example to the world. This construction work not only shows India’s increasing strength in modern engineering and technology but also is an example of the country’s changed work culture of realizing its resolve.”