The World’s Highest Arch Bridge Built over Chenab River

The Katra-Banihal railway is full of challenges never witnessed before in Indian Railways. And the feats achieved by the IRCON and the Konkan Railways are nothing short of an engineering marvel. One such engineering feat is the Chenab bridge which is the highest railway bridge over a river in the world.

The railway line in Kashmir Valley is completely detached from the network in the rest of the country as the Katra-Banihal railway line is yet to be completed. The line passes through the fragile Pir Panjal Himalayas, and involves challenges related to rough terrain, freezing temperatures, loose soil, heavy rain and snowfall, and earth-quake prone zones. The railway is of prime importance to the people of Kashmir and remote parts of Jammu, who can commute to the rest of the country with ease after the railway line opens.

Chenab is the major river cutting a deep gorge through the Pir Panjal mountains, and hence building a bridge over it was challenging from the very beginning. It was due to this bridge, the construction was stalled for long years, when the designers went back to the drawing board and started making various proposals on what should be the best alignment of the railway line. After the line in Kashmir opened way back in 2007, then massive Pir Panjal mountains and the Chenab river offered a major stumbling block to the new railway line. Finally, the latest alignment was chosen, which involves construction of an arch bridge over the Chenab river at a height of 359 metres above the river bed, 35 metres taller than the Eiffel Tower. The Chenab bridge thus becomes the highest arch bridge over a river in the world. Its actual height above the water level of Chenab is 322 metres.

The construction of the Chenab bridge was completed on the eve of the 75 years of independence of India. The Indian tri-colour flag was waved high above in the bridge, as the engineers achieved a major feat in bridging the gap between Kashmir and the rest of India. The Chenab bridge will also help people from either side of the Chenab river to stay connected at all times, which was absent due to absence of any bridges in the locality. Thus Chenab bridge is not just bridging the two railway lines, it is also a bridge connecting different people across the Chenab river.

Written by – Himadri Paul

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