NEW DELHI: The first-ever post-Independence train link that will connect Jammu to Kashmir is likely to take just over four hours as the Indian Railways has now made significant success in erecting the world’s highest bridge at 355 metre above the Chenab river that will be part of the line.
The bridge is being built on the Katra-Banihal railway line at village Kauri in the Reasi district in Jammu region.
The J&K UT administration is providing timely assistance to railways ministry for providing necessary security clearances and transportation of material to help overcome the challenges during COVID pandemic.
The new railway link will cover 111 kilometre between Katra to Banihal via Udhampur and will have 36 more such bridges (each of lesser height and length than Chenab bridge) and 27 tunnels — also the first in modern Indian history — to connect the Valley with Jammu, a network that is aimed at bringing hopes to people living near LoC and Kashmir for economical family and business trips.
“Out of 550 metre arch span, the Chenab railway bridge has already completed 467 metre. We have expedited the work since 2017 and have made huge success now. 27,000 MT of steel is being used. The length of this bridge will be 1.3 metres. Other 36 bridges and 27 tunnels are also important . Katra to Banihal will take about two hours and Banihal to Srinagar/Baramulla will take about 2-3 hours. Modalities will be planned once aligmment is fully constructed,” a senior railway official told TOI.
The alignment (railway line) is a culmination of large number of tunnels and bridges in highly rugged and mountainous terrain with most difficult Himalayan geology, said officials.
“87 % of this alignment of this 111 km railway line passes through tunnels. Seven percent journey will be through bridge. One of the tunnels being readed is 12.75 km long.. India’s longest. From pilgrims visting Vaishno Devi to tourists looking to embark upon adeventure and honeymoon to Srinagar and Baramulla can take train journeys here.” said government officials
What makes the railway line unique is that the Chenab bridge can allow train to pass over it even if wind velocity is 90 km/hour.
The standalone bridge, without a train movement, can withstand wind velocity upto 266 km /hour.
“The reason is ue of concrete filled trusses in its arches. This feature is being used for the first time in India, although same has been used in few arch bridges in China, US and some European countries. We have also provided another safety feature that train wont pass over the bridge if wind speed exceeds 90 km/hour.
The railways ministry has brought in power operated cars for inspection and maintenance of bridge by the engineers working at the site..
“The bridge superstructure at a height of 359 m is likely to cause height-phobia to the inspecting engineers without any closed inspection car This system will also help in carrying out routine maintenance of the bridge,” railway officials said.
Besides, in case of any eventuality due to any anti social elements in the region, ” it would still be possible to run the traffic over the bridge at a restricted speed of 30 kmph that is even if one of the arches or steel spandrel columns is damaged.
The bridge can withstand pressure generated by an explosion of several kgs of TNT occurring at ground level.
The Chenab River project is being managed by Konkan Railways but has designers from Finland (for viaduct and Foundation), Germany (for architecture), foundation protection (Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore) apart from proof consultants from the UK and IIT Delhi and Roorke who are looking after slope stabilities and analysis. The cost of the bridge alone is Rs 1326 crore.