Longest Railway Bridge at Kochi is ready for commissioning

If you thought that you could take a train ride on the longest railway bridge in India, you are mistaken since India’s longest Railway Bridge which is being commissioned in Kochi, connecting the International container transshipment terminal (ICTT) at Vallarpadam with Edapplly, will have only container traffic to and from ICTT. The rail connectivity will be ready in December 2009 and today you are witnessing the last span of this bridge being put in place or the launching of the last girder as engineers would put it.

Indian Railways have been the pioneers in construction of long span bridges. Rail-cum-road on river Yamuna near Delhi was built in 1864. The longest railway bridge used on date in Indian Railways is on river Sone at Dehri and consists of 93 spans of 30.5 m each totaling to 2836.50 m.

This longest Railway bridge (4.62Km) between Edapplly and Vallarpadam (ICTT) – 8.86 Km is being constructed by Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL) , a subsidiary of Indian Railways, at a cost of about Rs 300 crores as part of the proposed Rs.2,118 crore ICTT, billed as the country’s first global hub terminal. M/s Dubai Port is constructing the ICTT on a BOT system for the Cochin Port Trust and this bridge provides the rail connectivity to it.

The work of this 4.62 Km Bridge began in October 2007 and is being made ready after a period of 2 years which equates to building 190 m of bridge per month or 6.3 m of bridge every day. An enviable record considering the fact that about 80 % of this bridge is built in the back waters. Had it not been for the initial delays on account of the land acquisition protest, this period could have still been reduced, but now no one is complaining looking at this engineering marvel.

This bridge is constructed over pile foundations at 133 locations. The height of the bridge is about 7.5 m above the ground level after the entry and the exit points and this allows water channel movement and road crossings at Mulavukad and Chittoor beneath it. The bridge has 132 spans consisting of 33 spans of 20m and 99 spans of 40m which is made of PSC girders and caters to electric traction. A total of 231 girders, each girder weighing 220 tonnes have been cast at Vallarpadam and were transported to the location through motorized trolleys and launched in position by the completely automatic launching girder which was fabricated and imported from China by the contractors which you are witnessing.

This assumes importance since the bridge runs mostly over the back waters. Latest design concrete sleepers, modern rail fastenings and head hardened rails are being utilized to construct the track over the bridge.

The bridge took 18000 tonnes of steel, 50000 tonnes of cement and is founded over piles totaling to about 64000 m for the complete bridge put together including foundation for the future track. Concerted efforts of about 700 workers and 50 engineers of the contractor M/s AFCONS Infrastructure Limited under the supervision of Rail Vikas Nigam Limited have made this a reality.

As targeted by RVNL, the Rail connectivity to the ICTT can be provided by December as only a small portion of earth work and track works are only left to be completed.