Building Jammu and Kashmir,
bridge by bridge
Tenacious Afconians are braving harsh weather, precarious topography and tumultuous socio-economic climate to create infrastructure for USBRL project
Jammu & Kashmir is a familiar frontier for Afconians. For over a decade, they have been working relentlessly in the region to create some of the most awe-inspiring projects. While the success has been sweet, the backstories are that of ardour and grit.
One such project is that of 16 railway bridges being built across 250 kms in the region. Each of these dots will join to form the highly ambitious Udhampur Srinagar Baramulla Railway Link (USBRL) project. Over the past five years, Afconians have braved harsh weather conditions, precarious terrain and tumultuous socio-economic climate to keep the wheels running.
The team has had to battle land and environmental issues as well as several local and administrative challenges. “These apart, putting together adequate manpower is a major challenge owing to the disturbance in the state. We have to put in stricter safety measures to ensure activities are carried out unhindered under severe weather conditions. Timely delivery of resources and effective liaison with locals are crucial factors for project delivery,” said Project Manager DP Singh.
Use of best-in-class technology is Afcons’ hallmark. The USBRL bridges team used Slipform technology to construct hollow rectangular, circular tapered piers. “By implementing this technique we attained the unique distinction of constructing one of the tallest piers in India in just 31 days. The 103.45m pier - P5 - including 13m of conventional built up, is a part of Bridge 39, along the Katra–Dharam section. This is also one of the tallest piers in the history of Indian Railways,” adds Singh.
Herculean efforts have gone into excavating deep foundations, cutting through hills at 70-degree slopes and casting of RCC grid beams. Drilling holes for rock bolts in collapsible strata for Reasi and Salal yard, execution of cable anchors for foundation protection through unstable and unpredictable nature of highly fractured dolomite rock have been mammoth tasks. The team has constructed 5 Hybrid well foundations on slopes as well as a pier cap at 90.5m without using any tower crane.
“It is heartening that the team continues to learn, grow and share knowledge even as they continue their good work. Constructing a 103.45m pier in record time is a benchmark created in Indian Railways. Achieving this in that region and in harsh weather conditions is a matter of pride for us. Once ready, this project will change the lives of the people of Jammu & Kashmir. Afcons is humbled for playing a small part in transforming this remarkable region,” says Akhil Gupta, Executive Director (Operations) and Business Unit Head of Surface Transport.
Afcons is a key contributor in the USBRL project. Besides the 16 bridges, Afcons is constructing the Chenab Railway Bridge which will be the world’s highest railway bridge upon completion, and, a series of tunnels along the alignment.