The work on the country’s first cable-stayed railway bridge at Anji Khad in Reasi district of Jammu and Kashmir has been completed, Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said. The completion of the bridge drew praise from Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is keenly monitoring the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Railway Link (USBRL), which will provide rail connectivity between the Kashmir Valley and the rest of the country.
“In 11 months, India’s first cable-stayed rail bridge (Anji Khad) is ready…,” Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw tweeted on Friday, sharing a video of the completed bridge. The total length of the cable strand used in the bridge is 653 km.
Reacting to Vaishnaw’s tweet, the prime minister wrote “excellent”.
The completion of Anji Khad bridge, having a single pylon with a height of 331 metres above the river bed on Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Link (USBRL), is yet another major breakthrough achieved by the Indian Railways, which is expecting to complete the Rs 37,000 crore project by the end of this year.
Minister of State for Railways Darshana Vikram Jardosh, who recently inspected the USBRL project by visiting various key locations including Anji Khad bridge and the nearby iconic Chenab bridge, termed the completion of the country’s first cable-stayed bridge as “another milestone” despite difficult geographic conditions.
“I visited the bridge site and congratulated everyone for successfully installing all 96 cables of the bridge in a record time of 11 months. This asymmetrical cable-stayed bridge crosses the deep gorges of Anji river, a tributary of river Chenab,” she said.
Jardosh said the bridge connects tunnel T2 on the Katra side and Tunnel T3 on the Reasi side.
“It has been the PM’s vision to make Indian railways the best in the world. Overcoming geographic and climatic challenges, our engineers and railway officials have conquered the invincible,” the minister said.
Described as a “true engineering marvel”, the bridge has 48 cables each on lateral and central spans with work on its pylon started in 2017, officials said, adding the pylon is standing 191 metre from its foundation level.
They said It is the second highest railway bridge after the iconic arch bridge over Chenab at Kauri, which is the highest railway bridge in the world being 359 metres above the river bed level — 35 metres higher than the iconic Eiffel tower in Paris.
Anji Khad bridge has a total length of 473.25 metres, while the length of the viaduct is 120 metres. The central embankment has a length of 94.25 meters, the officials said.
They said the bridge has been designed to handle heavy storms of strong winds and even explosions.
In October 2016, the Railways decided to build a cable-stayed bridge at Anji Khad after the plan to build an arch bridge similar to Chenab bridge was abandoned due to vulnerability of the structure, primarily due to concerns over geological stability of the region.
The Railway Ministry sanctioned the construction of the railway line from Udhampur to Baramulla via Srinagar in phases — 25-km Udhampur to Katra in 1994, 118-km Qazigund to Baramulla and 129-km Katra to Qazigund in 1999.
In view of the importance of the USBRL in providing seamless and hassle-free connectivity to Kashmir, the 272-km-long rail link was declared as a “National Project” in 2002.
Out of the total 272-km USBRL project, 161-km was commissioned in phases with first phase 118-km Qazigund-Baramulla section commissioned in October 2009, followed by 18-km Banihal-Qazigund in June 2013 and 25-km Udhampur-Katra in July 2014. The work on 111-km Katra-Banihal stretch is going on.