India completes arch of world's highest railway bridge
The 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).
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-metre last piece of metal was fitted at the highest point 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 metres 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 metres higher than the Eiffel Tower in Paris (France).
“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.