The Government of India has undertaken the construction of an arch railway bridge across river Chenab in Jammu and Kashmir. On completion, the Chenab railway arch bridge would be the world’s tallest arch railway bridge by beating China’s Guizhou bridge. Upon completion, this engineering marvel would be the seventh-largest arch-shaped bridge in the world. The Chenab railway bridge is being constructed under the Konkan Railways Corporation’s supervision and is the most ambitious project undertaken by the Ministry of Railways. The responsibility to construct the arch railway bridge was awarded to a joint venture of Afcons Infrastructure, Ultra Construction & Engineering Company, and VSL India. 

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The Chenab railway bridge is a 1.3 Km long bridge that is being constructed across the Chenab river. After the construction, the railway bridge would stand 359 meters above the riverbed. The Chenab railway bridge would be at least 35 meters taller than the Eiffel tower in Paris. The Chenab railway bridge’s height would be at least five times more than the height of Qutub Minar in Delhi. 

Upon completion, the Chenab railway arch bridge would connect the Bakkal in Jammu’s Katra region to Srinagar’s Kauri region. The Chenab railway arch bridge is being constructed in one of the most challenging terrains in the mountainous region of Jammu and Kashmir. The area is surrounded by young mountains, making it prone to landslides and earthquakes. One of the biggest challenges faced by the engineers involved in constructing the arch railway bridge is to execute the construction without obstructing the flow of river Chenab. 

The slanted slopes in this region vary from 43° to 77°, making erecting a bridge even tricky. Since the bridge is getting constructed in isolated terrains, the engineers had to build approach roads that stretch 5 Kms to transport the machinery and raw materials required for the construction. 

Consultants laid down the design for the Chenab railway arch bridge from Finland and Germany. The railway bridge would be an arch bridge and would have 467 meters central span, running across the Chenab river.  The arch bridge would involve 17 different spans. The main span of the bridge would include 35 meters long approach spans. The Chenab railway arch bridge would consist of a 1.2-meter wide central verge and a 14-meter wide dual carriageway. 

The choice of construction material was steel and would require 26,000 MT of steel and 4,000 MT of reinforced steel. The concrete pillars of the bridge are designed to withstand explosions up to 40 kg of TNT explosion. The concrete pillars are constructed with 63-mm thick blast-proof steel and are painted using special corrosion-resistant paint. The design of the arch is two ribbed and is fabricated from large steel trusses. The chord in the trusses would be sealed steel boxes filled with concrete to resist wind force. The arch bridge is supported by two 128- meters and 106- meters pylons on either end of the bridge. The bridge is designed in such a manner that it can resist the wind speed up to 260 km/h. The Chenab railway bridge would be able to withstand an earthquake of magnitude eight on the Richter scale. The Chenab railway arch bridge is estimated to have a lifespan of 120 years.

The terrains of that region were not suitable to support such heavy load; thus, the slope had to be stabilized. In order to achieve slope stabilization, solidification of the slope was executed in the layers of 3.5-m of the terrain. The slope stabilization was done from top to bottom, keeping in mind the nature of the landscape. 

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The construction work on the Chenab railway arch bridge is nearly 83% complete as the erection of 5,462 MT out of 9,010 MT of steel is successfully executed as of 2020. The construction of the railway bridge is estimated to be completed by 2022. Under the direct supervision of the Indian Government, the Chenab railway arch bridge project was accelerated.

The Chenab railway arch bridge’s principal purpose is to connect Jammu and Kashmir with the rest of the nation using railway lines. The Chenab railway bridge would play a critical role in linking the 111-km rail line between Katra and Bnihal. The Chenab bridge will also play an essential role in enhancing the country’s defense capability in the region. This railway line is also called the USBRL project or the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Link project. The Chenab railway arch bridge is being constructed under the Prime Minister’s Development Package or PMDP. On November 7, 2015, the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi announced an Rs.80,068 crore package under the PMDP scheme. The PMDP has several projects dedicated to the development of Jammu and Kashmir. The  Chenab railway bridge is one of the projects out of several projects being executed under PMDP. The Hon’ble Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi envisioned the PMDP to strengthen the socio-economic infrastructure and bring regional development in Jammu and Kashmir.