INDIA: A key milestone has been reached in the construction of the world’s highest railway bridge, with the completion of the main arch of the Chenab Bridge.


Intended to carry the rail link to Kashmir across the Chenab river gorge through the Himalayas, the bridge is located between Bakkal and Kauri in the Reasi district of Jammu & Kashmir. When completed, the steel and concrete structure will be 1 315m long, with a main arch span of 467 m, carrying the tracks 359 m above the river.

Being built at a cost of Rs14·9bn, the bridge is being delivered for IR by Konkan Railway Corp, as executing agency for the 111 km Katra – Banihal section of Northern Railway’s Udhampur – Srinagar – Baramulla line. Main contractor is the Ultra-Afcons-VSL joint venture.

Erection is being facilitated by the use of an overhead cableway stretching across the gorge. Work to install the final eight segments to close the top of the arch began on February 20, and the last 5·6 m element was lifted into position on April 5.

The closure ceremony was attended virtually by Railways Minister Piyush Goyal, IR Chairman & CEO Suneet Sharma and Northern Railway General Manager Ashutosh Gangal using video conferencing.

The bridge will require around 28 660 tonnes of steelwork, and 66 000 m3 of concrete, with the main arch alone having a total weight of 10 619 tonnes. The next phase of the project will see the erection of 16 steel trestles above the arch to carry the horizontal girders supporting the trackbed. The intention is that the top level of the viaduct will be launched horizontally, after which tracklaying will begin.


Designed by Leonhart, Andra & Partners of Germany and WSP of Finland, the structure has being specified to withstand the highest intensity earthquake forces and wind speeds of 266 km/h; it has a design life of 120 years. Trains will be able to cross the bridge at speeds up to 100 km/h.