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Chenab Rail Bridge—the world’s highest arch bridge set to open soon: All you need to know about the engineering marvel

The total height of the bridge is 1,178 feet from the river bed making it approximately 35 metres taller than the famous Eiffel Tower in Paris. The Chenab Bridge became reality because of the 24x7 efforts of 300 civil engineers and more than 1,300 workers.

On 16th June, Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw shared a video of a trial run of a train between Sangaldan to Reasi. This route will be functional soon and has the tallest Railway Bridge ever made known as the Chenab Bridge. The bridge was inaugurated in February this year by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Taller than the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Chenab Bridge is the highest single-arch railway bridge ever made. The bridge is the biggest civil engineering challenge any railway project in India faced in recent history.

The bridge was approved in 2003 and its contract was awarded in 2008. It took around two decades for the engineers to overcome the challenges faced including safety and stability of the bridge. The arch bridge runs between Bakkal and Kauri in district Reasi of Jammu and Kashmir. It will form a crucial link from Karta to Banihal. Notably, the bridge was scheduled to be constructed by 2009 but faced several roadblocks. In 2008, its construction was suspended and the project was reviewed and revised. The railway officials finally approved the new design in 2009 and the construction could only start in 2012. The new railway line falls under Northern Railway, however, the executive agency and design consultant of the bridge is Konkan Railway Corporation Ltd as it has experience in constructing railway projects in challenging terrains. M/s Chenab Bridge Project Undertaking, which is a JV (Joint Venture) between Afcons Infrastructure, Ultra Construction & Engineering Company of South Korea, and VSL India has constructed the bridge.

The total height of the bridge is 1,178 feet from the river bed making it approximately 35 metres taller than the famous Eiffel Tower in Paris. The Chenab Bridge became reality because of the 24×7 efforts of 300 civil engineers and more than 1,300 workers. The base supports were completed in 2017 and superstructure of the bridge was completed in August 2022.

The Chenab Bridge is part of the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Railway Link project that costs Rs 35,000 crores. This project aims to boost connectivity in different regions of Jammu and Kashmir even in adverse weather conditions. The bridge alone has cost Rs 14,000 crore. The bridge alone is 1.3 KM long. It is a crucial link between the 111-km stretch from Katra to Banihal.

The arch design of the bridge is made out of steel and is the key structure elements of the bridge. It has 17 spans and the linear length of the main curviliniear arch is 460 metres. Different tests were performed by the engineers including high-velocity winds tests, extreme temperatures tests, earthquake-prone tests and impact of water level increase to ensure the bridge remains stable and secure. The expected shelf life of the bridge is around 120 years. Reportedly, it can withstand winds as strong as 260 KMPH.

The bridge is earthquake-resistant and the arch alone took around three years to build. Two cable cranes were installed on both banks of Chenab, the Kauri end and Bakkal end to construct the arch.

Apart from boosting tourism, the bridge will also help the Indian Army in its movement in the region. Once the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Link Project becomes fully operational, Vande Bharat Metro train will also run via this bridge between Jammu and Srinagar.

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Anurag
Anurag
B.Sc. Multimedia, a journalist by profession.

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