The Marvels of Chenab Bridge
Superheroes are like demigods in the alternate reality of comics and sci-fi fantasy. Physics, gravity, order, continuity – nothing matters in the incredible tales of superhuman feats. But does it mean that there are no superheroes in real life?
Snap out of your dreams!
We’re about to describe a heroic feat achieved by a team of humans who are no less than superheroes. They hang in air like Superman, jump and get glued to surfaces like Spiderman, roar like Hulk, and even glide on staircases in thin air like Batman. Sounds bizarre?
Welcome to Chenab Bridge, and to a terrific team of daredevils who worked at heights where only eagles dare. This team has worked for years at a height over 300m above a riverbed, standing on a steel arch and exhibiting nerves of steel. On April 5, 2021, they completed the steel arch of the world’s highest railway bridge in one of the most windy and hostile terrains of Jammu and Kashmir. It was for the world to see as Afcons made its way into history by crowning the steel arch. This is the story of the gutsy engineers and workers, who scaled mountains and crossed a river to achieve this key milestone for the global engineering fraternity.
Any construction activity in the hilly region of Jammu & Kashmir is challenging owing to the unpredictable climatic conditions and wind speeds hitting over an unforgiving 15m/s. The precarious, earthquake-prone nature of the Chenab valley only adds to the challenges. The team constantly adapted to the hostile terrain where landslides and downpours are a way of life. Right from making the place habitable for workmen by building comfortable camps to adjusting to the volatile socio-political environment, the team did it all even before construction began.
Chenab Railway Bridge is a true example of extreme engineering, and the arch erection was most critical owing to its intricate design and geometry. Construction of the bridge is expected to require approximately 25,000MT of steel, 4,000MT of reinforced steel, 46,000 cum of concrete and eight million cum of excavation.
The team ensured efficient mobilisation of material and equipment to build the 1.3km bridge that rests on the 469m arch. The world’s largest crossbar cable crane was commissioned for the arch erection, which can handle loads up to 36MT on single hook.
As the arch started taking shape, climbing heights 300m above Chenab riverbed became a day’s work for the team. With the segments meeting one after another, the climbs continued getting higher – reaching up to 359m at the point of culmination. It takes a lion’s heart to dare to do this job day after day. The moment the final piece of the arch was placed, the team erupted in celebration, dedicating their success to India.
This team, which continues its journey to complete the Chenab Railway Bridge, is now among legends. They will inspire generations to dream and realise their dreams fearlessly. They are the marvels of Chenab Railway Bridge.