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World's Highest Rail Bridge Reaches Milestone

Thursday, March 4, 2021

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The Chenab Bridge, located in the Reasi district of Jammu and Kahmir, India, is reportedly on track to reach an important construction milestone by the end of this month.

Once completed, the structure will become the world’s highest railway bridge.

Chenab Bridge

Brought about by the Jammu-Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Line (JUSBRL) project that was launched in 2003 by the Government of India and undertaken by the Ministry of Indian Railways, the national railway intends to connect Jammu and Kashmir with the rest of the country.

In 2004, joint venture Afcons Infrastructure, Ultra Construction & Engineering Company of South Korea and VSL India was awarded a contract to design and construct the bridge. Amberg Engineering was appointed to carry out review work of the alignments and the Konkan Railway Corporation was selected to execute the project.

As part of the proposed railway line, officials approved plans for a series of tunnels and bridges, including the $92 million Chenab Bridge. However, in 2008 the project was suspended due to construction challenges. As a result, the alignment of the entire JUSBRL project was reviewed, revised, submitted and later approved by the Railway Board the following year.

The design of the Chenab Bridge was approved in 2012. A first of its kind in India, the structure forms a massive steel arch, stretching 1,315 meters long (4,314 feet long) and measuring 359 meters above the Chenab River—35 meters taller than the Eiffel Tower.

Consisting of 17 spans, with the main arch span measuring 469-meters-long, the bridge will also have viaducts on either side and include two 36-meter-long approach spans. Built as a two-ribbed arch with steel trusses made of concrete-filled sealed steel boxes, the structure will also be supported by two 130-meter-long and 100-meter-high pylons on either end through cables.

The pylons were designed by VCE Consult ZT-GmbH, with Jochum Andreas Seiltransporte installing the cables.

In building materials alone, the structure is slated to require 25,000 metric tons of steel, 4,000 metric tons of reinforced steel and 46,000 cubic meters of concrete.

According to reports, while the country has no codes or design guidance for projects of such massive size, best practices from other worldwide projects are being utilized. Specifically, BS: 5400 is being used as a basic guideline for the structure’s design and construction. Already, the Norway-based Force Technology Laboratory has conducted several wind tests for the structure, which is projected to withstand wind speeds of up to 260km/h.

The structure is also expected to be capable of withstanding earthquakes of magnitude eight on Richter Scale and up to 40kg of TNT blasts.

For additional safety and structure protection, once completed, the structure plans to employ an online monitoring and warning system and will also be coated with a special corrosion-resistant coating, which is expected to have a lifespan of 15 years.

AkzoNobel was awarded the painting services contract for the structure.

In January of last year, the project was reportedly 83% complete after the erection of 5,462 metric tons of steel. The project utilized some of the largest cable cranes in the world to construct the bridge.

Additional parties working on the project include Finland-based WSP Group and Germany-based Leonhardt Andra and Partners as consultants and AECOM, who was awarded a contract to provide technical guidance and monitoring services for design and construction works. The scope includes engineering services, proof-checking the project drawings and design, ground engineering, planning and consulting.

Construction Milestone

Closing in on the engineering milestone, the steel arch of the Chenab Bridge is slated to reach a closure position by the end of the month.

“Infrastructural Marvel in Making: Indian Railways is well on track to achieve another engineering milestone with the steel arch of Chenab bridge reaching at closure position. It is all set to be the world's highest Railway bridge,” tweeted Railways minister Piyush Goyalm, along with a photo of the structure’s nearing closure.

In approaching the milestone, earlier this month, Minister of State for Home Affairs G Kishan Reddy said in Parliament that developmental work has been underway over the last two years.

“Since the last two years, speedy development is happening in Jammu and Kashmir, when compared to the last 70 years. Both the Centre and the J&K government are trying to develop the region and will do more,” said Reddy.

According to Deepak Kumar, Chief Public Relations Officer, Northern Railway, after the arch is closed, the project is expected to reach completion by the end of the year. Once completed, the Chenab Bridge will have a design speed of 100 kilometers per hour and a lifespan of 120 years.


Tagged categories: Asia Pacific; Bridges; Bridges; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Latin America; North America; Ongoing projects; Program/Project Management; Project Management; Rail; Transportation; Z-Continents

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