Jammu: The construction of the country’s first cable-stayed railway bridge at Anji Khad in Reasi district of Jammu and Kashmir has been complete, Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said on Sunday.
The completion of the bridge drew praise from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is keenly monitoring the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Railway Link (USBRL) that provides 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, PM Modi wrote “Excellent!”.
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The completion of Anji Khad bridge, having a single pylon with a height of 331 metres above the river bed on USBRL, is yet another major breakthrough achieved by the Indian Railways. The much talked-about bridge project is expected to cost ₹37,000 crore and is likely to be operationalised by the end of this year.
Minister of state for railways Darshana Vikram Jardosh, who recently inspected the USBRL project and nearby places of the iconic Chenab bridge, described the engineering marvel as “another milestone” despite difficult geographic conditions. “I visited the site and congratulated everyone for successfully installing all 96 cables of the bridge in a record time of 11 months. This asymmetrical cable-staved bridge across deep gorges of Anji river, a tributary of river Chenab,” she said, adding that the bridge connects tunnel T2 on the Katra side and Tunnel T3 on the Reasi side.
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“Indian railways is the best in the world, when it comes to executing of engineering projects. Overcoming geographic and climatic challenges, our engineers and railway officials have conquered the invincible,” the junior minister said.
Officials said that the bridge has 48 cables each on lateral and central spans with work on its pylon started in 2017. 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.
Total length of Anji Khad bridge about 473.25 metres, while the length of the viaduct is 120 metres. The central embankment has a length of 94.25 meters. The bridge has been designed to handle earthquake, heavy storms of strong winds and even explosions.
The Indian 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 in October 2016, due to vulnerability of the structure, primarily due to concerns over geological stability of the region. It was part of railway line connecting Udhampur to Baramulla via Srinagar in phases-25-km Udhampur to Katra in 1994, 118-km Qazigund to Baramulla and 129-km Katra to Oazigund in 1999.
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The USBRL was proposed to providing seamless and hassle-free connectivity to Kashmir, the 272-km-long rail link was declared as a “National Project” in 2002, in keeping with the importance of the project.
Out of the total 272-km USBRL project, 161-km was commissioned in phases with first phase 118-km Oazigund-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.