Rail bridge over Chenab will be world’s highest

The world’s highest railway bridge — five times the height of Qutub Minar and 35 metres taller than Eiffel Tower — will come up over the Chenab river on the under construction rail link to the Kashmir Valley.

The bridge 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. This section alone will cost around Rs 5,005 crore.

Konkan Railway Corporation, with experience of building 179 major bridges on the path-breaking rail link through the Konkan region, will execute this particular section.

The 1,315-metre bridge will use up 25,000 million tonnes of steel and will be an engineering marvel. “Work is going on in full swing,” said Rajesh Agarwal, general manager, Konkan Railways.

The world’s tallest rail bridge is on France’s Tarn river and its tallest pillar rises 340 metres while the actual height at which trains run on the bridge is 300 metres. “The Chenab bridge will be the highest in the world,” Northern Railway chief administrative officer Chahatey Ram said.

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 signalling system at the bridge in such a manner that it shows the stop light automatically when wind speed is more than 90 kmph.

Considering the inaccessible terrain of the Himalayan mountains, the bridge will get a special coat of paint with a life span of around 35 years to protect it from the tough weather.

Besides the steep topography and fragile geology, engineers constructing the Katra-Dharam line also have to factor in security concerns. While Railway Police (GRP) and Railway Protection Force provide security to engineers and workers implementing the project, the support of locals is coming in handy. “Only two incidents of terrorists targeting the project have been reported since work was started,” said Shovkat Malik, SSP, GRP, Kashmir Range.

The railways has constructed a helipad to transport construction material and equipment. 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 is giving connectivity to remote villages which were till now inaccessible.