The arch of Chenab bridge
The arch of Chenab bridge
PC: Twitter- @PiyushGoyal

releThe Indian Railways on Monday completed the Arch closure of the iconic Chenab Bridge, the world's highest railway bridge, which is part of the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla rail link project (USBRL).

Minister of Railways, Piyush Goyal released a video of the project on Twitter writing, "A moment of pride for India! The arch of Chenab bridge, connecting Kashmir to Kanyakumari has been completed. With an arch span of 467m, it is the world’s highest railway bridge. PM Narendra Modi ji’s vision to connect India has inspired the Railway family to scale new heights."

According to a statement issued by the ministry, the Arch closure was one of the most difficult parts of the bridge over Chenab and its completion 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-meter 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. This completed the shape of the arch that will then loom over the treacherous Chenab, flowing some 359 meters below, said the ministry in a statement.

After the completion of the arch work, removal of the stay cables, filling of the concrete in the arch rib, erection of the steel trestle, launching of the viaduct, and track laying work will be taken up.

The Chenab Bridge -- having a length of 1.315 km -- will be the highest railway bridge in the world being 359m above the river bed level and will be 35 meters higher than the Eiffel Tower in Paris (France). It involves the fabrication of 28,660 metric tonnes of steel, 10 lakh cum earthwork, 66,000 cum concrete, and 26 km motorable roads.

"At present, it takes 12 hours via road (Katra-Banihal), but after completion of the bridge, distance via train would be halved. The completion is expected in two years," said. Northern Railway General Manager Ashutosh Gangal told ANI.

According to the ministry, the arch consists of steel boxes. Concrete will be filled in boxes of the Arch to improve stability. The overall weight of Arch is 10,619 MT. Erection of the members of the arch by overhead cable cranes was done for the first time on Indian Railways.

The most sophisticated 'Tekla' software and steel suitable for -10degC to 40degC temperature has been used for structural detailing, it said.

Enlisting the unique features of the bridge, the ministry said that it is designed for blast load in consultation with the DRDO for the first time in India and can withstand high wind speed up to 266 km per hour and bear earthquake forces of the highest intensity zone-V in India.It further said that the bridge will remain operational at a restricted speed of 30 km per hour even after the removal of one pier/trestle.

As per the ministry, for the first time on Indian Railways, a Phased Array Ultrasonic Testing machine used for testing welds and NABL accredited lab was established at the site for weld testing, adding that 584km welding was done to join the different parts of the structure, which is to the tune of the distance between Jammu Tawi to New Delhi.

The height of the cable crane's pylon at Srinagar End is 127m, which is much taller than Qutub Minar's which is 72m.

This news has gone viral on Twitter. Citizens across the country are proud of this achievement and are applauding those who worked day and night for this.

Here's how people have reacted to the news.

(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

Free Press Journal