GUWAHATI: Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) seems determined to make Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dream of making the Northeast a link between mainland India and Southeast Asia a reality.
After making the Northeast host India’s longest river bridge – Bhupen Hazarika Setu over Lohit river linking Dhola with Sadiya in Tinsukia district of Assam that was inaugurated by the Prime Minister in May this year –NFR is now set to make the region even prouder by making it host the world’s highest bridge.
The Railways is now coming up with the world’s tallest rail girder bridge over river Irang near Imphal on the new Jiribam-Imphal broad gauge (BG) line in Manipur. To measure 141 metres in height, it will eclipse the current world record holder Mala-Rijeka viaduct in Montenegro in Europe (139 metres) when completed.
To measure 602 metres in length, the bridge is being constructed at an estimated cost of Rs 290 crore. Already 80% of pile foundation work is complete. And two firms – Simplex Infrastructures Ltd and Braithwaite Burn & Jessop Construction Company Limited – have been engaged by NFR to execute the project.
The Railways is also mulling to develop the bridge site as a tourist spot in co-ordination with Manipur government due to its scenic location and tall piers. And what will make the entire project a real treat to watch is the panoramic view that it promises to offer to railway travellers. For, after meandering its way through a mountain, the line will pass over the tallest bridge before entering an 11.5-km tunnel immediately at the other end and then reach Tupul railway station.
And according to sources, not just the bridge (codenamed bridge no. 164), the entire 111-km Jiribam-Imphal BG rail line will test to the limit the technical prowess of NFR. The new railway line will have 37 tunnels with a total length of 56 km, besides 22 big bridges.
The location of the bridge is in a very high seismic zone and heavy wind speeds have required adoption of state-of-the-art design and construction techniques. Site specific earthquake studies have been conducted and detailed model studies in wind tunnels have been performed to ensure a safe and sustainable design.
The total estimated cost of the entire Jiribam-Imphal BG rail line is Rs 9,657 crore. NFR has set a target of 2020 for completion of the project.
NFR’s Chief Engineer (Construction) A. Saibaba told that the project is very challenging, but added that when completed it will be one of the most challenging projects undertaken by Indian Railways.
He said NFR is trying to meet the target of 2020 for completing the project and that 11 km of the 111-km line has already been completed.