Jammu, Aug 13: Konkan Railway on Saturday achieved an important milestone vis-a-vis crucial Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Link (USBRL) project with the launch of “golden joint of deck” over Chenab bridge- the world’s highest Railway bridge under construction in Reasi district.
Indian Railways has undertaken this project to connect the Kashmir valley to the rest of India through a rail link. A construction marvel in the tough Himalayan terrain, the USBRL will provide all weather connectivity to the people of J&K. Konkan Railway Corporation Limited (KRCL) is the executing agency of the Northern Railway, which has undertaken this highly prestigious and strategically very significant project. Chenab bridge, a mega iconic structure, is a part of this project. It is being constructed across a gorge of the Chenab river in Reasi. It is an arch bridge having a total length of 1315m and is 359 m above the river bed.
With today’s accomplishment, this mega structure, which is 35 m higher than Eiffel Tower in Paris, has inched towards completion, thus raising prospects of meeting its deadline of November this year.
This milestone was achieved in the presence of the Chief Administrative Officer USBRL Surinder Mahi, Chief Engineer USBRL B B S Tomar, CMD KRCL Sanjay Gupta, ED KRCL R K Hegde and Director AFCON R Giridhar when deck launched from both sides of the arch was joined mid-way over arch portion of Chenab bridge.
“The completion of the joint means most work in the construction of the mega structure nears completion. Now the laying of the ballastless track will soon start,” officials informed media persons present at the site. “This joint is aptly named the Golden Joint. Launching of the 785 m deck over the Chenab arch bridge was carried out by joining prefabricated portions and then launching them from both ends. The golden joint is the last joint of the bridge deck, which connects both sides of the deck at the arch, to make it into a continuous structure. After aligning the two sections of the bridge in place, it will be fastened by means of HSFG (High Strength Friction Grip) bolts,” it was informed. Sanjay Gupta, while describing the process underway as a “long arduous journey”, stated that the engineers and railway officials had to face innumerable challenges including harsh terrain, complex geological features and vagaries of weather to achieve this milestone. “Challenges have not ended yet,” he added.
Director AFCON R Giridhar stated, “After the completion of the golden joint of deck, major work on the bridge, say around 98 percent, was finished though challenges would persist while executing the balance portion.”
As per officials, this project is going to be a game changer in not only providing a mass transportation system but also will create business and tourism opportunities in the region.
On April 5, 2021, closure of the arch, one major milestone in the construction of the monumental structure was accomplished. It was significant due to the fact that arch erection was taken up from both Jammu and Srinagar ends of the bridge and precision matching in the centre had to be achieved.
Underlining the unique features of the bridge, officials informed that the use of concrete filled trusses in arch was being made for the first time in India.
“There are many firsts associated with this project viz., power operated cars for inspection and maintenance of bridges, being provided for the first time in India. A continuous health monitoring and warning system is being provided for State of Art Instrumentation. Cable crane assembly used for erection of steel members of the bridge has a span of 915 meters, one of the longest in the world. One of the Pylon of Cable crane at a height of 127m is higher than the Qutub Minar of 72 m. For the first time, the bridge has been designed for blast load in consultation with DRDO besides a phased Array Ultrasonic Testing machine is being used for inspection of welds,” it was stated.
According to officials, for the first time, NABL (National Accreditation Board for Laboratories) accredited Lab has been set up at site for testing of welded elements in Indian Railways and the bridge is designed to bear earthquake forces of zone V.