World’s highest rail bridge on Chenab gets ‘golden joint’

Updated on Aug 14, 2022 04:58 AM IST

World’s highest rail bridge over Chenab in the Kouri area of Reasi achieved another milestone when the overarch deck of the bridge was completed with a golden joint on Saturday.

World's highest single-arch railway bridge over the Chenab river, in Reasi district, on Saturday. (PTI)
World's highest single-arch railway bridge over the Chenab river, in Reasi district, on Saturday. (PTI)

Just two days before India’s 75th Independence Day, the world’s highest rail bridge over the Chenab river in the Kouri area of Reasi district, the much-awaited engineering marvel, achieved another milestone when the overarch deck of the bridge was completed with a golden joint on Saturday.

The golden joint shall now pave the way for engineers to lay tracks on the bridge. With tracks over it, Kashmir will be linked with the rest of India via rail network for the first time since Independence.

An elated Surender Mahi, chief administrative officer of the USBRL Konkan Railways said, “It was a very big project for all of us. To reach here we had to construct 26 km of approach roads having bridges and tunnels”.

Mahi said that the engineers faced several challenges but at last gifted engineering marvel to the people of India.

“In the 90 days pending works of the bridge, including rail tracks, shall be completed and by next two years, i.e, by December 2024, the train will pass over this bridge on way to Srinagar. The work on rail tracks beyond this bridge (Bakkal) towards Srinagar is already on,” said Mahi.

“To achieve this feat, we had sought technical expertise from IIT-Roorkee, IIT-Delhi, Indian Institute of Sciences, Bangalore, DRDO, national remote sensing agency, GSI and other agencies. This is the highest railway arch in the world. The bridge is 35 meters higher than Eiffel Tower,” he said.

“The deck has been completed today with the golden joint and now track will be laid. Thereafter, trolleys will be used for trial runs. Control rooms will be set up,” he said. He informed that the cost of the project was 1,450 crore.

Sanjay Gupta, chairman and MD, Konkan Railways, said, “This has been a long journey. The term ‘golden joint’ was coined by civil engineers… It’s the world’s highest railway bridge.”

“We can confidently say that the bridge would be roughly 98 per cent complete after the golden joint is finished,” said Giridhar Rajagopalan, deputy managing director of Afcons.

“When we completed the arch closure project last year, we felt a great sense of relief about our ability to complete the project accurately so that there was no mismatch. And that gave us a great deal of confidence to easily handle the project’s remaining portion,” he added.

Afcons is building 16 additional railway bridges for Konkan Railway Corporation Limited (KRCL) in the dangerous terrain of Jammu and Kashmir in addition to the Chenab Bridge. All the bridges are part of the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Link (USBRL) project.

Another official informed that entire 111-km Katra-Banihal rail project faced delays due to challenges like young Himalayan terrain, a tectonically active area with faults and folds.

“However, our engineers are working 24x7 with all their conviction,” he added.

About the bridge, he said, “Since wind velocity is higher in a Valley and the bridge structure shall create obstruction, we did all our work. Our analysis showed that the bridge has to face the wind stress of 266 km per hour for three seconds. Therefore, we prepared it accordingly. Then speed indicators and alarms are there on either end of the bridge. Though the area where the bridge has come up falls under seismic zone 4 category, we prepared for seismic zone 5 category,” he said.

The project is going to be the game changer in Jammu and Kashmir by integrating with the entire mainland of India and boosting the socio-economy of the UT.

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    A principal correspondent, Ravi Krishnan Khajuria is the bureau chief at Jammu. He covers politics, defence, crime, health and civic issues for Jammu city.

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