India will soon boast the world's tallest railway bridge, construction of which is on in full swing, over the river Chenab in the hostile terrain of Jammu and Kashmir.
Designed by consultants from Finland and Germany, the 1.315 km-long bridge will soar to a height of 359 metres over the Chenab, which is 35 metres taller than the Eiffel Tower.
Once completed, it will be an iconic bridge and an engineering marvel of the world, said Railway Chief Engineer B B S Tomar who is involved in the project.
The bridge forms the crucial link in the 111-km stretch between Katra and Banihal which is part of the Udhampur- Srinagar-Baramulla section of the Kashmir Railway project.
Since the area is in a high seismic zone and also near the border, special care is being taken by the DRDO to equip the Rs 12,000-crore bridge to withstand any major blast in the militancy-affected region.
Currently, 1,400 men are working through the day to complete the behemoth structure by March, 2019.
"It is an incredible undertaking because you are building a very large steel bridge in a very remote location and getting those competent contractors to get the job done," said David Mackenzie, a UK-based quality consultant.
About his role in the project he said "My role is about quality control and advising them what is acceptable and not acceptable. This is a major work of world class standard and the international community will be fascinated to know and read about it. It is definitely an engineering marvel and India should boast about it".
The area was inaccessible earlier and the railways have to make 22 km of roads as access path for the construction of the bridge.
According to the plan, a ring of aerial security will be provided to safeguard the bridge. An online monitoring and warning system will be installed on the bridge to protect passengers and trains in critical conditions. Footpaths and cycle trails will be provided adjacent to it.
Railways will install sensors on the bridge to check the wind velocity and as soon as the wind speed exceeds 90 kmph, the signal on the track will turn red, preventing train movement.
"The construction of the bridge is the most challenging part of the Kashmir rail link project," said Tomar.
There will also be a ropeway on the bridge for inspection and maintenance purposes.
Steel was the chosen material to construct the humongous bridge as it is more economical and able to resist temperatures of minus 20 degrees Celsius and wind speeds of above 250 kmph.
It will require a mammoth 24,000-plus tonnes of steel to construct the bridge.
In order to enhance safety and security, the bridge will be made of 63 mm-thick special blast-proof steel in the region prone to frequent terror attacks.
The concrete pillars of the bridge are designed to withstand explosions. The bridge will include a 14 metre-wide dual carriageway and a 1.2 metre-wide central verge.
The structure will be painted with a special corrosion- resistant paint which lasts for 15 years.
It will also contribute to the economic development of the state and help in providing better transportation accessibility within the state and the country.