Photo: Ministry of Railways/Twitter
Photo: Ministry of Railways/Twitter

The Indian Railways is all set to create an architectural record, with construction for the world's highest railway bridge slated to finish next year. Officials on Sunday said that the bridge that will connect the Kashmir Valley to the rest of the world would be operational by next year.

Touted this as an "engineering marvel" by the Indian Railways, the bridge over Jammu and Kashmir's Chenab river will be unique in many ways. Along with its record-setting height, this will also be the first time the Valley will enjoy rail connectivity with the rest of the country.

Here's all you need to know about the upcoming bridge.

1. Located between Bakkal and Kauri (and connecting the two) in the Reasi district, the Chenab Bridge is on the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Link. It will connect the Kashmir Valley to the rest of India.

2. While earlier estimates had postulated that the bridge would open by December 2021, this seems to have been changed somewhat and is now slated to be operational by 2022.

3. Incidentally, this is not a new project. The bridge had first been slated for completion in 2009. Work was however halted amid concerns about the stability and safety of the bridge. It was restarted in 2010, with a 2015 deadline. Since then, work has been paused and restarted, first with a 2019 deadline, then 2020, and subsequently 2021.

4. The Chenab Bridge will be 359 metres above the Chenab River bed. While China's Beipan River bridge (Shuibai Rail Bridge) is currently the highest at 275 m, this will far supersede that. The Chenab bridge will be approximately five times the height of the Qutub Minar.

5. The steel and concrete arch bridge will be 1.315 kilometre long with a 467 metre arch span. The length including the 650 metre viaduct on its northern side. This incidentally makes this the bridge with the widest span amid all others in the country's broad gauge rail network.

6. The Chenab bridge will be a large span single arch steel bridge with approach viaducts. The bridge has been built to withstand strong winds and even explosions.

7. Experts from India have been aided by those from Finland, Germany and other foreign countries in the planning of the bridge. With Indian constructions standards unable to handle a bridge of this magnitude, the Chenab bridge has been based on both Indian as well as international standards including the British Standards, International Union of Railways and more.

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Free Press Journal