Highest Railway Bridge In J&K To Be Ready By 2015

Highest Railway Bridge In J&K To Be Ready By 2015

17 June 2012
Times of India
Mahendra Kumar Singh

Reasi: The world's highest rail bridge being constructed over Chenab river in Jammu & Kashmir's Reasi district will be ready by December, 2015. Coming up at Kauri, it will be 359 metres (1,180 feet) above the riverbed - five times the height of Qutub Minar and 35 metres taller than Eiffel Tower. 'It will be completed in 42 months from now,' said Rajesh Tiwari, director of Konkan Railways, the agency which is implementing the project. The bridge, whose estimated cost at Rs 512.74 crore in 2004 is likely to go up, will rise 359 metres over the Chenab, 65 km from Katra, on the 73-km Katra-Dharam section of the ambitious Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla rail link project. 'The 1,315-metre-long bridge will use 25,000 metric tonnes of steel and it will be an engineering marvel considering the steep topography and fragile geology of the region,' said Rajesh Agarwal, ED of Konkan Railways. Observing that wind speed at the height of 359 metres may go up to 266 kmph, the engineers have decided not to allow trains crossing the Chenab bridge if the wind velocity is more than 90 kmph. The railways has designed the signaling system at the bridge in such a manner that it shows the stop light automatically when wind speed breaches the 90 kmph mark. Considering the inaccessible terrain of the Himalayas, the bridge will get a special coat of paint with a life span of around 35 years to protect it from harsh weather. Besides the steep topography and fragile geology, engineers constructing the Katra-Dharam line also have to factor in security concerns. Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel are providing security to engineers and workers implementing the project. The support of locals is coming in handy as the project will provide connectivity to the region along with generating employment. For the 73-km section, which involves construction of 63 km of tunnels and 7.5 km of bridges, Konkan Railways is constructing 176 km of roads to access the project sites. Railways has already constructed 104 km of roads, which are linking to remote villages that were till now inaccessible. Another special bridge has been planned on the Chenab near Anjikhad, and it will be built at a height of 189 metres from the river bed. 'The construction of the Chenab bridge on steep banks on both ends - Bakkal (Katra) & Kauri (Srinagar) - without causing any hindrance to the water flow is a challenge,' said Agarwal. Mohit Bhatnagar, chief engineer said, 'Maximum height of steel pier is about 130 m and its foundation will measure 50mx30 m (over one third of a football ground).' The construction involve over 8 lakh m3 (equivalent to volume of a 54 storey building on a football ground size plot) of earthwork in excavation for construction of foundations and over 46,000 cubic metres of concrete materials. After remaining suspended for more than a year due to geological obstacles and engineering challenges, the work on the bridge has restarted again. Under construction since March, 2007, the bridge was scheduled to be completed by December, 2010, but due to the suspension of the work and geological roadblocks, it is now expected to be completed by December, 2015.