Crossing the Chenab: The world's highest rail bridge

Witness the engineering marvel behind the construction of the Kashmir Rail Link across the Chenab River in India, which shall become the world's tallest bridge.

By Heritage Directorate, Indian Railways

Mr. Braj Bhushan Singh Tomar

Viaduct of Chenab BridgeHeritage Directorate, Indian Railways

Construction of the Chenab Bridge

In early August 2004, the Indian Railways embarked on one of its most ambitious projects. The project, declared as a national project, was the construction of a new railway line from the town of Udhampur to Baramulla district in Jammu, India. The work involves constructing a number of tunnels and bridges and culminating in the construction of a new steel arch bridge over the deep gorge of the river Chenab. The bridge has been  designed to have a  life of 120 years.

Panoramic view of the Chenab Bridge siteHeritage Directorate, Indian Railways

The bridge forms the crucial link on the 111 km stretch between Katra and Banihal, which is part of the Udhampur- Srinagar-Baramulla section of the Kashmir Railway project.

A bird's-eye view of the viaductHeritage Directorate, Indian Railways

The bridge will soar 359 metres above the bed of the River Chenab and will be 30 metres higher than the iconic Eiffel Tower in Paris.

Chenab BridgeHeritage Directorate, Indian Railways

One amazing feat is the launch of the curvilinear portion of the viaduct on the sharp curve of 2.74 degree by pushing the segments using launching nose. This is the first time this technique has been successfully carried out in the country.

Turning of viaduct segmentHeritage Directorate, Indian Railways

The engineers decided the only bridge type suitable for the location would be a massive steel arch - the highest ever built for a railway at 1,056 feet (322 meters) from deck to water.

Only an arch is capable of handling the weight of a 300 ton locomotive along with a thousands of tons of passenger cars. With a length of 1,532 feet (467 meters), the main span will rank amongst the world’s ten longest arches.

Main arch foundation of the Chenab Bridge at Jammu endHeritage Directorate, Indian Railways

The construction of the world's tallest rail bridge on the Chenab River, in Jammu and Kashmir, is entering a crucial phase after the launching of the main arch.

With about 70% of the work completed, over 1,200 workers and 300 engineers are working round-the-clock to meet the project's completion deadline in 2019.

Launching of the archHeritage Directorate, Indian Railways

The launch of the main arch is a noteworthy endeavour as it entails carrying heavy segments from two ends of the bridge - Kauri end and Bakkal end - and involves the world longest cable crane arrangement.

Steel pylons at the iconic Chenab BridgeHeritage Directorate, Indian Railways

For a swift erection and launching of main arch span, the pylons with cable cranes have been commissioned. The pylon height is approximately 127 metres at the Kauri end and approximately 105 metres at the Bakkal end.

This cable crane has the longest span in the world, with 34 ton combined lifting capacity. These cranes have a capacity of lifting 34 MT in single operation.

This technique of erection of structural steel by overhead cable cars is being used for the first time in the country for the construction of such a large span of a bridge.

Aerial viewHeritage Directorate, Indian Railways

The two main arch foundations at Bakkal and Kauri are significantly massive, having the height of about 47 metres and 34 metres.

Panoramic view of the portal area of tunnel T-74Heritage Directorate, Indian Railways

This engineering marvel coming up in the most daunting geological site of the world (more challenging than Andes in South America and Alps in Europe) is an attempt to boost tourism.

It has also increased employment opportunities in the Valley State.

View of the Adit areaHeritage Directorate, Indian Railways

The Chenab Bridge lies in a tectonically active and geologically complex terrain. The region has experienced many earthquakes and also faces the danger of seismic threat.

Detailed seismic hazard analysis were carried out by IIT Delhi, IIT Roorkee and IISc Bangalore, by considering site specific geological, seismotectonic and recorded earthquake events in and around the site.

Portal development work at Khari Adit of tunnel 74RHeritage Directorate, Indian Railways

Portal development work at Khari Adit of tunnel 74R.

Work in progress at the 9.3km long T-13 tunnelHeritage Directorate, Indian Railways

Drilling and charging activities in tunnel T-13 (9.3 km in length) in progress on USBRL Project.

Wider cross-section tunnel T-13 in Dugga yard of USBRL ProjectHeritage Directorate, Indian Railways

Wider cross-section tunnel T-13 in Dugga yard of USBRL Project.

Tunnel T-49Heritage Directorate, Indian Railways

Wire mesh fixing and hole drilling activities in progress in tunnel T-49 (longest transportation tunnel with 12.75 km in length) of USBRL Project.

Loading and charging of explosives in T-13 tunnelHeritage Directorate, Indian Railways

The total length of project from Udhampur to Baramulla is 272 km, out of which work has been completed on 161 mm, which includes completion of 25 km of length of Railway Line from Udhampur to Katra and 136 km of Railway Line from Banihal to Baramulla.

Work on intervening section of Katra-Banihal (111km ) is in progress. Katra-Banihal section includes 27 tunnels of total length 97 km and 37 major and minor bridges, including the Chenab bridge.

Drilling the escape tunnel of T-49, in Sumber areaHeritage Directorate, Indian Railways

Currently, 1,400 men are working through the day to complete the behemoth structure by March 2019.

Muck dumping yard at tunnel T-49Heritage Directorate, Indian Railways

Muck dumping yard at tunnel T-49.

Canopy development at AditHeritage Directorate, Indian Railways

An online monitoring and warning system will be installed on the bridge to protect the passengers and train in critical conditions.

Footpaths and cycle trails will be built adjacent to it.

Train Operation in Pirpanjal Tunnel during winterHeritage Directorate, Indian Railways

USBRL had successfully commissioned the country's longest transportation tunnel (11.2 km long) across the mighty Pirpanjal range.

India will not only be the home to the world’s tallest rail bridge over River Chenab, but in order to make it a real global tourist attraction, the area adjoining the 359 metre steel bridge, across the Pirpanjal range, will have facilities like bungee jumping, water sports and trekking, besides a host of restaurants.

Credits: Story

Construction Organisation, Northern Railway & Mr. Braj Bhushan Singh Tomar.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Explore more
Related theme
Indian Railways
151,000 km of laid track, 1 billion people, and an infinite source of memories
View theme
Google apps