Indian Railways completes Arch closure of World’s highest Chenab Bridge

Indian Railways on 05th April, 2021, completed the Arch closure of the iconic Chenab Bridge. Chenab Bridge, the world’s highest railway bridge, part of the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla rail link project (USBRL), set an important construction milestone 05th April, 2021 with completion of the steel arch of the iconic Chenab Bridge.

  • This was one of the most difficult parts of the bridge over Chenab. 
  • This achievement is a major leap towards the completion of the 111 k.m. 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 on 05th April, 2021 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. 
  • After 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 completion of the historic Arch work was also seen by Shri Piyush Goyal Minister for Railways, Commerce & Industry and Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, Shri Suneet Sharma, Chairman & CEO, Railway Board, Shri Ashutosh Gangal, General Manager Northern Railway through video conferencing.

Salient Features of the Arch of the iconic Chenab Bridge:

  • Indian Railways is constructing the iconic Arch Bridge on River Chenab as a part of the USBRL project to connect the Kashmir valley to the rest of the nation.
  • This bridge is 1315m long.
  • This is the highest Railway Bridge in the world being 359m above the river bed level.
  • It will be 35 meters higher than the iconic Eiffel Tower in Paris (France).
  • Construction of Bridge involved fabrication of 28,660 MT steel, 10 Lakh Cum Earthwork, 66,000 Cum Concrete and 26 Km motorable roads.

  • Arch consists of steel boxes. Concrete will be filled in boxes of the Arch to improve stability.
  • Overall weight of the Arch is 10,619 MT.
  • Erection of the members of arch by overhead cable cranes done for first time on Indian Railways.
  • The most sophisticated ‘Tekla’ software used for structural detailing.
  • Structural steel suitable for -10°C to 40°C temperature.

Certain features are tabulated below:

  • Client: Northern Railway.
  • Executing Agency: M/s Konkan Railway Corporation Ltd.
  • Cost of Bridge: 1486 Cr.
  • Contractor: M/s Chenab Bridge Project Undertaking [Ultra-AFCONS-VSL(JV)].
  • Total length of bridge: 1.315km.
  • Number of spans: 17 nos.
  • Length of Main arch span: 467m (linear); 550m (curvilinear).
  • Design life of the bridge: 120 years.
  • Design speed: 100 kmph.
  • Total Steel Fabrication: 28660 MT (approx).
  • Design wind speed: 266 kmph.
  • Designers:
    • Viaduct & Foundations: M/s WSP (Finland).
    • Arch: M/s Leonhart, Andra and Partners (Germany).
    • Foundation Protection: Indian Institute of Science Bangalore.
  • Proof Consultant:
    • Foundation & Foundation Protection: M/s URS, UK.
    • Superstructure of Viaduct & Arch: M/s COWI, UK.
  • Slope Stability Analysis: (Independent Consultant) M/s ITASCA, USA.
  • Slope Stability Analysis: Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi.
  • Seismic Analysis: Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi & Roorkee.

Unique Features of This Bridge:

  • Bridge designed to withstand high wind speed up to 266 Km/Hour.
  • Bridge designed for blast load in consultation with DRDO for the first time in India.
  • Bridge will remain operational at a restricted speed of 30 Km/Hour even after removal of one pier/trestle.
  • Bridge designed to bear earthquake forces of highest intensity zone-V in India.

  • First time on Indian Railways, Phased Array Ultrasonic Testing machine used for testing of welds.
  • First time on Indian Railways, NABL accredited lab established at site for weld testing.
  • Approx. 584Km welding is done to join the different parts of the structure, which is to the tune of distance between Jammu Tawi to New Delhi.
  • Height of the cable crane’s pylon at Srinagar End is 127m, which is much taller than Qutub Minar of 72m.
  • Launch of curved viaduct portion done for first time on Indian Railways using End Launching Method.
  • Extensive health monitoring and warning systems planned through state of art instrumentation.

Details about ceremony of Arch Closure:

  • Before closure and during launching, arch is being supported by stay cables.
  • Closure includes the erection of the last 8 segments (4 no. upstream and 4 no. downstream) of Arch.
  • The process of arch closure started on 20 February, 2021. Before the ceremony for closure of arch, 07 segments were erected in advance.
  • At the time of closure of arch, segment no. WT28 was erected. This segment is at the kauri end (west end) of the crown.
  • Name: WT28 (upstream side top chord segment).
  • Size: 5.6 m x 4.0 m x 0.98 m ( L x B x H ); Weight =18.95 MT.

After the closure of the Arch, the other activities such as removal of stay cables, filling of concrete arch with self-compacting concrete, erection of trestles, launching of deck over main arch by incremental launching will be undertaken.

Progress of Important activities:   

S.No. Activities        Scope Completed
1. Fabrication 28,660 M        28,595 MT
2. Overall Erection 28,660 MT
16,902 MT
3. Erection of Arch
10,619 MT
10,236 MT
4. Rock Bolts 69,343 Rmt 66,683 Rmt           
5. Shotcrete 75,061 Sqm 73,761 sqm

About the USBRL Project:

  • The USBRL (Udhampur Srinagar Baramulla Rail Link) is a National project undertaken by the Indian Railways for construction of a broad-gauge railway line through the Himalayas with the aim of connecting the Kashmir region with rest of the country.
  • USBRL will have a length of 272 Km long Railway Line from Udhampur to Baramulla.
  • Out of 272 Km of USBRL Project, work has been completed and commissioned on 161 Km length.
  • Udhampur – Katra -25km  (commissioned in July 2014), Qazigund – Baramulla – 118km (commissioned in Oct., 2009) and Banihal – Qazigund – 18km  (commissioned in June 2013).
  • The work on intervening stretch of Katra-Banihal section (111 km) is in progress.
  • There are 27 nos. of Main tunnel having length of about 97.6 Km and 8 nos. of Escape tunnel having length of 66.4 km.
  • Thus, the cumulative length of 164 Km of tunneling is being constructed on Katra- Banihal section.
  • There are 37nos. of Bridges (combined length of 7 Km) which includes 26 nos. Major bridges and 11 nos. minor bridges.
  • Indian railway’s first cable stayed bridge is also being constructed on Anji Khad and 120 m of Main Pylon out of 193m has been cast and an ancillary viaduct portion of Anji Bridge has been completed.
  • Three agencies; IRCON, KRCL and Northern Railway with extensive experience in construction of rail lines are involved in this project.
  • Many international agencies and premier Indian institutes like IIT Roorkee, IIT Delhi, DRDO and Geological Survey of India are providing expertise in planning and implementation.
  • Several sets of tunnelling machineries and cranes have also been imported.

Electrification of Banihal- Baramulla section:

The 136 km railway line from Banihal to Baramulla has already been commissioned and its electrification work is in progress. All tenders have been awarded and S&T plans have also been approved and work is under progress in full swing.

  • The target for completion of Railway Electrification works in Banihal-Baramulla section is March 2022.
  • Due to inclement weather, frequent landslides & washouts, snowfall & rainfalls in the month of Jan 2021 in Reasi and Ramban districts, which resulted in cutoffs of the National highway 44 and approach road to the project sites, thereby affecting the progress of work.
  • However, all safety precautions were taken at sites and work is progressing in full swing at all fronts.

Source: PIB-Press Release

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