World's highest railway bridge, taller than Eiffel Tower, to open in J&K soon
The Chenab railway bridge bridge connects Katra and Banihal and has reportedly cleared all the necessary tests.
Jammu and Kashmir will soon be able to boast of the world’s highest railway bridge, which is set to open soon over the Chenab river. Built at a height of 359 m (1,178 ft) over the river, the Chenab railway bridge soars above the Eiffel Tower in Paris by at least 35 metres.
Part of the ₹35,000 crore worth Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Railway Link (USBRL), the arch bridge lies between Bakkal and Kauri in the Reasi district, according to news agency ANI. Estimated at ₹1,400 crore, the bridge connects Katra and Banihal and has cleared all the necessary tests.
The bridge is geared up for completion two decades after the project received the green signal in 2003. Although the construction work began in 2004, it had to be halted from 2008-09 in lieu of safety of passengers due to high-velocity winds in the region. Following delays over safety and stability issues, the contract was handed over in 2008. However, the project has missed many deadlines over the years.
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Railway officials have now confirmed that track lane work over the bridge has started and is ready for commissioning.
Railways minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, who inspected the bridge on Saturday, informed that two more tests of running a motor trolley and bolero customised rail operation will be held. The safety checks that have been carried out so far include high-velocity winds test, extreme temperatures test, earthquake-prone test, and hydrological impacts due to rise in water level.
He added that the USBRL, which links Jammu with Srinagar, will be completed by December 2023 or January 2024.
“…All the tests have been…successful. Now, the bridge is ready for operation. This is the greatest thing for J-K,” he said.
Calling the 'world's highest bridge an engineering marvel’, the minister said that work on the Chenab and Anji bridges are progressing fast.
Work on the main arch was completed in April 2021, while the base was finished in November 2017, as per ANI. The steel and concrete arch bridge completed a milestone in August 2022 with the completion of the overarch deck.
The bridge, which lies 42 kilometres from Reasi town, will be able to withstand winds with speeds up to 260 kmph and will have a lifespan of 120 years, according to officials.
Reportedly, the construction of this bridge was the biggest civil-engineering challenge faced by any railway project in India in recent times.
The USBRL project also holds the title of comprising other firsts like the longest railway tunnel (12.75 km) and the first cable-stayed bridge (Anji Khad bridge) in India. The railway minister added that the Anji bridge will also be completed by August 2023 and available for commissioning by September.
(With agency inputs)