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Chenab Bridge: World's Highest Railway Bridge in J&K overarch deck near end

by Rishika Choudhury

Read Time: 4 minute

The Chenab Railway Bridge, the world's highest railway bridge, is set to reach a new milestone this month with the completion of the bridge's overarch deck with a golden joint. In the Chenab Bridge, 93 deck segments, each weighing about 85T, have been launched simultaneously from both ends of the valley over the mighty steel arch, with another five in the works.

Both ends will eventually come together to form the bridge overarch deck, and the segments will be joined with High Strength Friction Grip (HSFG) bolts to form the golden joint. This will complete the bridge over the Chenab river valley and usher in a new era in Jammu and Kashmir's history.

359m above the Chenab riverbed

“The overarch deck completion, 359m above the Chenab riverbed, will be an extraordinary achievement. I have my highest respects for every engineer and worker who have contributed in this engineering achievement,” said Giridhar Rajagopalan, Deputy Managing Director of Afcons.

Giridhar said that the joint will usher in a golden moment in the history of Indian Railways and will become a golden chapter in the history of Jammu and Kashmir.

“Construction engineering was completely done by Indian engineers which makes the Chenab Railway Bridge a symbol of Atmanirbhar Bharat,” he added.

1315m long Chenab Railway bridge

The 1315m long Chenab Railway bridge was built with approximately 30,350 MT of steel. The massive arch required 10,620 MT of steel to build, and the bridge deck required 14,504 MT of steel to build.

The bridge is located near Kauri village in Jammu and Kashmir's Reasi district, upstream of the Salal Dam. The bridge is being built by Afcons, a Mumbai-based infrastructure company that prioritises safety, quality, and productivity.

“For the first time in Indian Railways, incremental launching was done on transition curve and a longitudinal gradient, both occurring at same location, for the deck launching of the viaduct portion of the Chenab 
Bridge. Typically, bridges have been constructed incrementally on a straight or a curved platform with a uniform radius. Executing launching activities in inclement weather & stormy wind conditions was extremely challenging,” Giridhar said.

Both Northern Railways (NR) and Konkan Railway Corporation Limited (KRCL) had played a huge role in finalising the design of the iconic Chenab Bridge.

NR and KRCL played important role in generating local employment

Reflecting on their involvement at crucial stages of the bridge construction, Giridhar said, “We received tremendous support for any technical issue, approval for drawings, method statements, and most importantly, both NR and KRCL played an important role in generating local employment. KRCL constructed all the access roads to project site. These roads have provided connectivity to far-flung villages in the region.”

“The Northern Railways allowed us to use the Phased Array Ultrasonic Testing Machine for inspection of welds. This was done for the first time in India,” he added.

The fabrication was carried out in sophisticated workshops set up at both ends of the bridge. The heavy and bulky segments were transported to the launching pad with the help of SPMT, specialised modular trailer.

“Considering the treacherous hilly terrain, temporary launching platform with segment lifting capacity of 120 MT & for a height of about 39m was designed. We developed and implemented a number of innovative methods to overcome the challenges of the hilly terrain for successfully executing our launching activities,” Giridhar said.

First time fully equipped NABL laboratory was set up in India

For the first time in India a fully equipped NABL laboratory was set up to ensure that quality was being monitored at every stage of the project. “The Northern Railways supported us in setting up the NABL lab at site for conducting weld sample tests. This saved a lot of time,” he added.

With the assistance of KRCL, Afcons was able to carry out mock-ups of all major bridge components prior to executing the original work, giving the engineers confidence. This was critical in ensuring the quality and safety of employees and workers.

The Chenab Railway Bridge, when completed, will be 35 metres higher than the Eiffel Tower. Afcons has the distinction of refurbishing Bihar's iconic Mahatma Gandhi Setu and converting it into India's longest steel bridge, in addition to completing the world's highest single-arch railway bridge in Jammu and Kashmir.

Also Read: Army Construct 170-Foot Bailey Bridge for Jammu and Kashmir's Machail Mata Yatra Pilgrims

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