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World’s highest railway bridge to open soon in India

Agencies | New Delhi                                                         

The Daily Tribune – www.newsofbahrain.com

Indian Railways will soon connect Jammu & Kashmir to the rest of India! The national transporter is executing the extremely challenging Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramula Rail link Project, also called the USBRL in Jammu & Kashmir.

The last 111 kilometres long stretch of the USBRL project includes the crucial Chenab river bridge - the world’s highest railway bridge, and the Anji Khad bridge which is Indian Railways’ first cable-stayed bridge.

We take a look at some stunning images and facts about Indian Railways’ USBRL project that make it special:

USBRL project - completed sections

The USBRL project comprises 272 kilometres long railway lines in J&K and the first two phases of the project - Quazigund to Baramulla and Quazigund to Banihal are already open.

The last section between Katra-Banihal is expected to be ready in the first half of 2024.

37 bridges in new USBRL stretch

There are 37 bridges on the new stretch with a combined length of 7 kilometres. This includes 26 major bridges and 11 minor bridges.

These bridges include the iconic Chenab Bridge and the Anji bridge.

Chenab bridge - world’s highest railway bridge

Chenab bridge is the world’s highest railway bridge, built at a height of 359 metres above the river bed. It is even taller than the Eiffel Tower in Paris! The beautiful arch bridge is a stunning sight and an engineering marvel, given the terrain it has been built in.

Chenab bridge - special facts

The Chenab river bridge has been built to withstand severe earthquakes and is also said to be blast-proof. The bridge can take wind speeds of up to 266 kilometres per hour.

This 1.3 kilometres long bridge is a crucial link in the 111 km Katra-Banihal stretch of USBRL.

Vande Bharat for USBRL

Interestingly, Indian Railways has also allocated the 49th Vande Bharat Express rake with 8 coaches to the USBRL project.

An order on the same has been sent to the ICF, Chennai which manufactures the semi-high speed train rakes. TOI had in March 2023 reported Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw saying that once the Chenab bridge is ready, a Vande Bharat train will connect Jammu to Kashmir.

Anji Khad bridge

The Anji Khad bridge is Indian Railways’ first cable-stayed bridge and spans a length of 725 metres. It has been built in the Reasi district of J&K. The Anji bridge is an asymmetrical cable-stayed bridge balanced on the axis of a central pylon.

13Indian Railways’ first cable-stayed rail bridge

Anji Khad bridge: The total deck width is 15 metres and the main span of the bridge is 290 metres. The bridge connects Katra and Reasi via tunnels T2 and T3 on the Katra-Banihal section.

Trains will be able to run at speeds of 100 kilometres per hour on the bridge.

USBRL most difficult new railway line project

According to Indian Railways, the USBRL project is perhaps the most difficult new railway line project undertaken in the country post-independence.

The terrain passes through young Himalayas, which are full of geological surprises and numerous problems. The alignment of USBRL involves construction of a large number of tunnels and bridges in highly rugged and mountainous terrain with most difficult and complex Himalayan geology, says railways.

Connecting J&K with rest of India via railways

USBRL project: Work on the railway project of national importance is progressing fast and in the coming months, Jammu and Kashmir will have all weather railway connectivity with the rest of the country.

One crucial tunnel breakthrough is pending and the work on the entire stretch is in final stages. Train trial runs have started on some select stretches as well, sources told TOI.

USBRL project: Extensive tunnel work

The 111 kilometres USBRL stretch that is currently under construction predominantly involves tunneling.

According to railways, 97.42 kilometres out of 111 kms - that is 87% of the length of Katra-Banihal section - is in tunnels. The maximum length is of T-49 at 12.77 kilometres. This will be the longest transportation railway tunnel in the country.

USBRL project

There are 27 main tunnels and 8 escape tunnels (66.4 kilometres).

Escape tunnels have been provided in 8 tunnels having length in excess of 3 kilometres for safety and rescue as per international standards. A total of 7 stations between Katra-Banihal section have been completed.

USBRL work challenging

Indian Railways has said that due to the tough geological/topographical conditions and bad weather, frequent landslides, washout and snowfall/rainfalls challenges are frequently encountered while executing the project work.