Indian engineers are toiling in the Himalayas to build the world’s highest railway bridge, which is expected to be 35 metres taller than the Eiffel Tower when completed in 2016. The arch-shaped steel structure is being constructed over the Chenab river to link sections of the mountainous region of northern Jammu and Kashmir state. The bridge is expected to be 359mt (1,177 feet) high when completed, surpassing the world’s current tallest railway bridge over the Beipanjiang River in China’s Guizhou province, which stands at 275mt high.
“It is an engineering marvel. We hope to get this bridge ready by December 2016. The design would ensure that it withstands seismic activities and high wind speeds,” a senior Indian Railways official told AFP.
The work on the bridge started in 2002 but due to safety and feasibility concerns, including the area’s strong winds, the project halted in 2008 before it again started two years later. The estimated cost of the project, which is being handled by the Konkan Railway Corporation, a subsidiary of state-owned the Indian Railways, is nearly Rs. 550 crore.
The bridge will connect Baramulla to Jammu with a travel time of six-and-a-half hours, almost half the time it currently takes.
The main arch is being erected using two cable cranes attached on either side of the river which are secured on enormous steel pylons, according to engineers of the project.
The 1,315-metre long bridge will use up to 25,000 tonnes of steel with some material being transported by helicopters.
“One of the biggest challenges involved was constructing the bridge without obstructing the flow of the river,” said the railways official.
“Approach roads had to be constructed to reach the foundations of the bridge,” he added.