Indian Railways Achieves Milestone with Trial Run on World’s Highest Rail Bridge

chenab river bridge

Chenab River, Jammu and Kashmir – June 18, 2024: In a remarkable feat of engineering, Indian Railways has successfully conducted a trial run on the world’s highest rail bridge, located over the Chenab River in Jammu and Kashmir. The trial run was carried out between Sangaldan and Reasi, marking a significant milestone in the Udhampur Srinagar Baramulla Rail Link (USBRL) project.

Union Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw announced this achievement via X (formerly Twitter), stating, “The first trial train has successfully run from Sangaldan to Reasi, including crossing the Chenab Bridge. All construction work for USBRL is almost complete, with tunnel no. 1 remaining partially incomplete.”

Chenab Bridge: An Architectural Marvel

Standing 359 meters above the Chenab River, the Chenab Bridge surpasses the height of the Eiffel Tower by 35 meters, making it the tallest railway bridge globally. The bridge, also known as the Chenab Arch Bridge due to its 467-meter long arch, faced numerous challenges during construction due to the valley’s harsh weather conditions and rugged terrain. Despite these obstacles, the bridge, costing approximately Rs 14,000 crore, was completed with a lifespan of 120 years. It is engineered to withstand winds up to 260 kilometers per hour, extreme temperatures, earthquakes, and rising water levels.

Strategic Importance of the USBRL Project

Initiated in March 1995 and designated a national project by then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2002, the USBRL project is one of Indian Railways’ most ambitious undertakings since Independence. Upon completion by the end of 2024, this rail link will connect the Kashmir Valley districts, including Anantnag, Pulwama, Shopian, Budgam, Srinagar, and Baramulla, to the rest of India.

Enhancing Connectivity and Trade

Currently, the Kashmir Valley is accessible via air or the 300-km national highway between Srinagar and Jammu, which is frequently closed in winter due to snow and landslides. The USBRL project promises all-weather connectivity, reducing travel time from five to six hours by road to just three to three-and-a-half hours by train. This rail link is also expected to boost trade, facilitating the smooth transportation of goods such as apples, dry fruits, and handicrafts from Kashmir to other parts of India, and vice versa, making goods more affordable.

Recent Developments and Future Prospects

The trial run on the Chenab Bridge follows the inauguration of the 48.1 km Banihal-Sangaldan section of the rail line by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in February. Officials anticipate that the complete rail line will be operational within the next four to five months, further integrating the valley with the national railway network and ensuring reliable, safe, and efficient transportation for passengers and goods alike.

A Tragic Backdrop

Reasi district, the location of the Chenab Bridge, recently made headlines due to a tragic bus attack on June 9, 2024, resulting in nine fatalities. Despite this somber backdrop, the successful trial run on the Chenab Bridge brings a hopeful outlook for enhanced safety, connectivity, and economic growth in the region.

Indian Railways’ milestone on the Chenab Bridge signifies a transformative step towards better connectivity and development for Jammu and Kashmir, promising a future of integrated and prosperous travel and trade across the region.

Delhi Magazine Team

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