Jammu, June 17: The world's highest rail bridge on the Chenab, which will provide a direct rail link to Kashmir, is likely to be completed by the end of 2015.
The bridge - lying 65 kilometres from Katra - will rise 359 meters over the river. When completed, the bridge will be five times the height of Qutub Minar and 35 metres taller than Eiffel Tower.
A part of the ambitious Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Link Project, the bridge will be constructed on the 73km Katra-Dharam section.
The Konkan Railway Corporation, which has built 179 bridges in the Konkan region, is executing this section of the project.
"The bridge will be a scenic beauty as the train will come out of a 5.9km long tunnel from the Katra-end and pass through other bridges before it crosses the Chenab," Rajesh Agarwal, executive director of Konkan Railway, said.
The 1,315-metre bridge will use 25,000 million tonnes of steel and is likely to be completed by the end of 2015, he said. It is likely to cost around Rs 650 crore.
The world's tallest rail bridge lies over France's Tarn river and its tallest pillar rises 340 metres. However, the actual height at which trains run on the bridge is 300 metres. "The Chenab bridge will be the highest in the world," Agarwal said.
The Jammu-Udhampur-Katra-Quazigund-Baramulla Railway line is the biggest mountain railway construction since Independence. From Jammu to Baramulla, the length of the new rail line is 345 km. It passes through the young Himalayas, tectonic thrusts and faults, officials said.
The rail line, which was declared a national project in 2002, is an attempt to provide an alternative transportation system to Kashmir. It is also expected to boost tourist inflow into the valley.
Wind speed,which may go up to 266 kmph at the height of 359 metres, can, however, be an irritant to the construction of the bridge. It has been decided not to allow trains to cross the Chenab if the wind velocity is more than 90 kmph.
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