The Chenab Bridge Soon To Be World’s Highest Railway Bridge

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The beginning of 2016 will definitely bring good travel news for India. Jammu and Kashmir will welcome the initiation of the world's highest railway bridge on the legendary Chenab River. Built at the height of 359 meters from the river bed level, the bridge will leave behind the world's current tallest railway bridge (275 meters) over the Beipanjiang in China's Guizhou province.

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Thanks to the Indian engineers, this architectural marvel built in Himalayas will be the world's highest railway bridge which is expected to be 35 metres taller than the Eiffel Tower when completed by 2016. The arch-shaped steel structure is being constructed over the Chenab River to link sections of the spectacular mountainous region of India's northern Jammu and Kashmir state.

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For those of you who are wondering whether it will offer safety or not, the design of the bridge would ensure that it should withstand seismic activities and high wind speeds. The main arch is being erected using two cable cranes attached on either side of the river which are secured on enormous steel pylons, according to engineers of the project. Work on the bridge started in 2002 but safety and feasibility concerns, including the area's strong winds, saw the project halted in 2008 before being green-lighted again two years later.

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Travellers rejoice! The bridge will connect Baramulla to Jammu in the Himalayan state with a travel time of six-and-a-half hours, almost half the time it currently takes. So you’ll be able to travel not only at an excitingly less time but also with one of the engineering marvels of India. With an estimated cost of the project around $92 million, this will be one of its own kind architectural projects in India. This project is being handled by Konkan Railway Corporation which is a subsidiary of state-owned Indian Railways.

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For those of you who would like to know something on the geography and history of Chenab River - this river is an integral part of the Indian subcontinent connecting northwestern India and northeastern and eastern Pakistan.

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The Chenab is formed by the confluence of two streams, Chandra and Bhaga, the Western(Punjab) Himalayas in India’s Himachal Pradesh state. It flows west through Jammu and Kashmir state (the Indian-administered portion of the disputed Kashmir region) between the steep cliffs of the Siwalik Range (south) and the Lesser Himalayas (north). Turning southwest, it continues into Pakistan, descending from the uplands into the broad alluvial lowlands of Punjab province. After receiving the Jhelum near Trimmu, the Chenab empties into the Sutlej River, a tributary of the Indus River. Its total length is about 605 miles (974 km), and it feeds several irrigation canals.

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Of the many large barriers the railway crosses, the most difficult is the wide gorge of the Chenab River. With its headwaters high up in the Himalayan mountain range, the river carved a deep gash that left its elevation more than a 1,000 feet (305 mtrs) below the level of the rail line. 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 thousand tons of passenger cars. With a length of 1,532 feet (467 meters), the main span will rank among the world’s 10 longest arches. This bridge will also surpass all of China’s current arch bridges.

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Lets hope this bridge is soon completed and add laurels to India’s geographic and technological terrain!

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