In the coming months, India will have the world’s highest railway-arch bridge in Jammu and Kashmir over the river Chenab. Chenab Bridge connects Kashmir valley with Udhampur, which is known as Jammy-Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Line. Once the bridge gets completed, it will be one of the highest bridges on river Chenab across the world.
Chenab Bridge is located in the Reasi district of Jammu and Kashmir between Bakkal and Kauri in India. It is an under-construction rail bridge, which is 1315m long built at the height of 359m. It is believed that this bridge is made in one of the world’s most challenging terrain. The construction work for Chenab Bridge has given employment to around 5,000 workers from the nearby areas.
The base support of the Chenab Bridge was completed in the year 2017, but the completion of the bridge was extended due to the fear of its stability. The bridge has 469 main arch spans along with 17 spans across the river Chenab. The bridge has two 36m long approach spans.
Critical features of the Chenab Bridge
The steel used in Chenab Bridge is blast-proof. Along with it, the railway is installing online monitoring as well as a warning system to ensure swift response when the need arises. DRDO, that is, India’s Defence Research Development Organization, is working closely with Indian Railways on the project of the Chenab Railway Bridge. The entire project is around 345km long, and Chenab Bridge is a crucial part of this project.
• For the better security of the Chenab Bridge, blast-proof steel has been used in the construction.
• The bridge is around 4314 ft or 1315m long.
• The deck height of the Chenab Bridge is around 359m.
• The Chenab Bridge can stand wind spend up to 260km per hour.
• The necessity for building Chenab Bridge
Jammu and Kashmir are some of the wonderful and beautiful destinations for tourists. Every year, many tourists prefer to visit Jammu and Kashmir with their friends or family. However, traveling around or in the mountainous terrain of Jammu and Kashmir has been a great difficulty for the tourists as well as locals.
After that Government of India has understood the urgent need to provide better transportation facilities due to which the idea of building Chenab Bridge came out. Construction of the national railway project is a great idea that connects Jammu and Kashmir with the rest of India, and that is why; the idea was proposed.
The project was initially launched in 2003 as a part of the proposal. Chenab Bridge, which is a 345km long railway line between the regions of Jammu and Baramulla, helps in enhancing mobility within the state and across the country.
The railway line of Chenab Bridge will traverse along Jammu-Udhampur-Katra-Quazigund-Baramulla. The project involves the construction of several bridges as well as tunnels, and Chenab Bridge is one of those significant constructions. The bridge will span across the deep Chenab River, plus it will provide access to the Kashmir valley from Udhampur.
Due to the several construction challenges, the project was suspended in 2008. The alignment of the project was reviewed to propose or implement some solutions for the challenges which were faced during the construction of the Chenab Bridge. After that, the reviewed work was submitted to the Railway Board, which was later approved in 2009. However, the design of the Chenab River Bridge was approved in July 2012.
Design details of Chenab Bridge
Chenab Bridge forms the first of its kind and world’s largest bridge in India due to its massive steel arch. Earlier, the country was not having any codes or design guidance for such massive structures. However, the design practices for the Chenab Bridge were followed based on experiences drawn from similar projects.
For the construction as well as the design of Chenab Bridge BS: 5400 is used. The deep Chenab River valley under the bridge is prone to high wind pressure, which can increase the stability of the Chenab Bridge.
Moreover, the Norway-based force Technology Laboratory has conducted various wind tunnel tests that help in understanding the effects of wind speed. Along with it, the tests have helped to understand the static force coefficients plus gust buffeting. Chenab Bridge is well-designed to resist wind speeds of up to 260km per hour.
During the design of the Chenab Bridge, the seismic nature of the project zone was ideally considered. The construction of Chenab Bridge will include 17 spans along with 469m main arch span across the Chenab River.
The main span of the Chenab Bridge includes two 36m long spans. The structure of the Chenab Bridge will be efficiently supported by two 130m-long and 100m high pylons on either end of the bridge through cables.
To construct the Chenab Bridge, steel was chosen because it will be more economical. Even the use of steel cable to resist temperatures of -20 degrees Celsius as well as the wind speed of 200km per hour. Everyone is aware of the fact that Jammu and Kashmir region has witnessed various terrorist attacks due to which it becomes necessary to look at the safety of the bridge.
To enhance security as well as safety, the Chenab Bridge will get made of 63mm thick special blast-proof steel. In addition to it, the concrete pillars of the Chenab Bridge are well-designed to withstand the explosions. A ring of the high security will be active and provided for the Chenab Bridge to safeguard the bridge.
A warning system, along with an online monitoring system, will get installed on the Chenab Bridge to protect the train and passengers in the critical conditions. Cycle trails, as well as footpaths, will get provided adjacent to the Chenab Bridge. After that, the bridge will get painted with special corrosion-resistant paint, which can last around 15 years.
Challenges faced during the construction of Chenab Bridge
Undoubtedly, the Chenab River Railway Bridge is being constructed under most isolated as well as complicated terrains. One of the significant challenges faced involves the construction of the bridge without being a barrier in the flow of the river. To reach the foundations of the bridge over the Chenab River, approach roads which are five kilometers in lengths were constructed.
The deck of the Chenab Bridge is partly in curves and partly on the straight horizon. It is well-located on a transition curve with the changing radius. Therefore, the construction of the Chenab Bridge is being carried out in the stages which follow the gradual changes in the alignment. It can be considered as the first time that a bridge is being incrementally constructed on a transition curve.
Derrick, as well as cable cranes, will get used to construct the Chenab Bridge. Moreover, the cable cranes which get used for the construction of the Chenab Bridge will be the largest in the entire world. In addition to it, the construction of highest railway bridge on Chenab will require around 4, 000mt of reinforced steel, 25, 000mt of steel, eight million of excavation, and 46, 000 m3 of concrete.
Some fascinating facts about Chenab Bridge:
- Chenab Bridge will be around 1.315km long and is well-constructed at the height of 359 meters above the waters of the Chenab River. The bridge will have railway stations at both of its terminal ends.
- Railways are planning to install the sensors on Chenab Bridge to check the wind velocity effectively. The signal on the railway track will turn red when the wind speed exceeds 90 km per hour, and any train movement gets stopped. According to the officials, the lifespan of the Chenab Bridge will be around 120 years, which can withstand up to 260 km per hour.
- The world’s highest rail bridge over Chenab is being built in a terrorism-prone region. Along with it, the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) is working to make sure that this bridge will be able to withstand any significant blast. In the construction of this Rs 12, 000 crore bridge, special 63 mm thick blast-proof steel has been used.
- The concrete pillars of the Chenab Bridge are well-designed so that the bridge can withstand explosions as well as high blasts. Moreover, the bridge is correctly designed by consultants from Finland and Germany.
- The arch bridge is designed correctly so that it can withstand an earthquake of magnitude eight on the Richter scale. The bridge is capable of handling earthquake with an intensity of zone 5, which is well-known as the highest intensity zone in the country.
Chenab Bridge will ideally form the crucial link between Banihal and Katra, which is an essential part of the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla section of the railway project. The work on the installation of the central arch between the two sides of the Chenab Bridge has already started.
In 2004, the construction of the Chenab Bridge had already begun, but after some time, the work was stopped. There can be many reasons due to which the work was discontinued in 2008, and one of the reasons was the passenger’s safety. Chenab Bridge is being considered as one of the engineering milestones for Railways, and it makes it the highest arch bridge across the entire world.