Indian engineers are building the tallest railway bridge in the world – one which will traverse a river in the Himalayas.
A new railway bridge being built over the Chenab River in the Indian Himalayas is slated to be the tallest structure of its type in the world upon completion in just over two years’ time.
The arch-shaped steel bridge will measure 359 metres in height, beating out the world’s current tallest railway bridge, which traverses Beipanjiang River in China’s south-western province of Guizhou, by approximately 85 metres.
The bridge will run through mountainous terrain in the Jammu and Kashmir state, the northernmost state of India, which is situated primarily in the Himalayas.
The project is expected to slash the travel time between the state capital of Jammu and and the Himalayan city of Baramulla in half to just six and a half hours.
A senior official from Indian Railways said that the bridge would be an “engineering marvel,” featuring a design which would safeguard it from shocks caused by seismic events or the buffeting of the high velocity winds produced by the Himalayas’s mountain passes.
In addition to being the tallest railway bridge in the world, the structure will also measure 1,315 metres in length and require the use as much as 25,000 tons of steel to complete.
The difficulty of building the giant bridge is further compounded by its mountainous setting, as well as the express goal of Indian Railways to refrain from obstructing the passage of the Chenab River.
The main arch for the project will be built using a pair of cable cranes, fastened to either side of the river using giant steel pylons.
The mountainous terrain will necessitate the use of helicopters to transport much of the material used in the construction of the bridge. Engineers have also built special approach roads for the express purpose of providing access to the bridge’s foundations.
While work on the bridge commenced in 2002, construction was suspended in 2008 due to concerns over the safety and viability of the project – particularly given the high velocity winds of the Himalayas. The authorities re-approved the project in 2010, however.
The estimated price tag for the project is AU$97.8 million, and construction is being directed by Konkan Railway Corporation, which is a subsidiary of state-owned enterprise Indian Railways.
Indian officials said that the bridge is scheduled for completion by December 2016.