In a major step towards boosting connectivity to the Kashmir valley, the Indian railways today completed the construction of arch for a railway bridge over the Chenab river, an engineering marvel as it is the world's highest bridge at 359 metres.
The bridge is part of the 272-km Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramula Rail Link (USBRL) project, which is scheduled to be completed next year. The bridge will be 35 metres higher than the iconic Eiffel Tower in Paris.
USBRL, a national project, will provide direct train connectivity to the valley and is being developed at a cost of Rs 28,000 crore. As of now, Udhampur-Katra and Banihal-Baramulla sections are operational, while construction on the 111-km Katra-Banihal section is going on.
"This achievement is a major leap towards the completion of the 111-km long winding stretch from Katra to Banihal. It is arguably the biggest civil-engineering challenge faced by any railway project in India in recent history. The 5.6-metre last piece of metal was fitted at the highest point today and joined the two arms of the arch that currently stretch towards each other from both the banks of the river," a release from the Railway Ministry said.
The work pertaining to viaduct and laying of the tracks will now be taken up.
The structural steel used in the arch is suitable for -10 to 40 degree Celsius temperature. Construction of the bridge involved fabrication of 28,660 MT steel. The arch consists of steel boxes. Concrete will be filled in boxes of the arch to improve stability. Erection of the members of arch by overhead cable cranes was done for the first time for a project of Indian Railways, it said.