The world’s highest rail bridge being built across Chenab riverbed in Reasi district of Jammu and Kashmir will take at least three more years to be functional.
Railway officials say the bridge, which is five times higher than Delhi’s Qutub Minar and far taller than the Eiffel Tower in Paris, will be completed by December 2017. The arched structure will connect Baramulla to Jammu via Udhampur-Katra-Qazigund with a travel time of six-and-a-half hours. Currently, it takes exactly double the time – 13 hours – to reach Jammu from Baramulla in northern Kashmir, which is 60km from Srinagar.
A big army of spirited laborers from different parts of the country are working tirelessly under the able guidance of visionary engineers and professional consultants engaged by the Konkan Railway corporation Ltd (KRCL) to give final shape to the dream project.
It is considered the crucial link on the 70-km long Katra-Dharam section of the ambitious Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Link Project.
Once completed the bridge will soar 359 meters over the river bed, six times the height of the Panvalnadi bridge in Maharashtra (the tallest so far in India) and more than five times the height of the Qutub Minar. The world’s tallest rail bridge is on France’s Tarn River, with its tallest pillar rising 340 meters from the river bed.
The 1,315-metre bridge will use up 25,000 million tonnes of steel and will be an engineering marvel. The main arch span of the bridge will be 467 metre high.
The bridge is designed for 266 kmph of wind velocity. The engineers working on the project have decided not to allow trains crossing the Chenab bridge if the wind velocity is more than 90 kmph.
The target date for the completion of the project is December 2017 at an estimated cost of 5005 crore (base year 2006).
According to site engineers of Konkan Railways the work is going on in the full swing and we are hoping to meet the target deadline.
Sharing the status of progress made on ground zero the engineers said, “out of 18 tunnels so far five tunnels are through. The longest tunnel is likely to be 11.165 km and presently survey is underway.Two tunnels of length 1.6 km and 1.4 km have been made through in Sangaldhan area in the year in 2010 and one tunnel of 654 m length in December 2011. Another two tunnels of length 820 m and 1010m (near Dugga) were also made through in April and May 2012 respectively.
The works are in progress in 14 tunnels for 28 km of tunnel length. The construction of major bridges between km 30 to 50 and special bridge over Chenab are in progress. “We are facing numerous challenges as the alignment passes through the rugged terrain and steep slopes”.
Adequate security cover is also extended at the project site and to the project engineers keeping in view the history of the militancy infested area in the vicinity.
While KRCL is the executing agency, the bridge is being designed and constructed by Chenab Bridge Project Undertaking – a joint venture (JV) between AFCONS, Ultra Construction and Engineering Company of South Korea, and VSL India.