USBRL: An engineering marvel
Post by Bivek Mathur on Sunday, October 16, 2022
Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Railway LinkProject (USBRL)- a national project aimed at providing an all-weather rail connectivity to Kashmir Valley is a mammoth engineering project which is also constructed to provide an alternative and reliable transportation system to Kashmir.
The project comprises 38 tunnels (combined length of 119 Km), one of them 12.75 Km—the country’s longest transportation tunnel. The project also involves construction of 927 bridges (combined length of 13 Km). As per Northern Railways, these bridges include the iconic Chenab Bridge, the tallest railway bridge of the world. Indian Railway’s first cable-stayed bridge is also being constructed on Anji Khad in Katra-Banihal section of this project.The project is estimated to cost more than Rs. 37,000 crores.
For the purpose of execution/monitoring, the project has been divided into four legs, including the 25 Km Udhampur-Katra section of the project which has been completed. This section was commissioned in July 2014. The 111 Km long Katra-Banihal section is the second leg of the project which is in progress. The 18 Km Banihal-Qazigund section is the third leg of this project. Work on this section was commissioned in 2013 and it has been completed. The fourth and the final leg of this project is the Qazigund-Baramulla section, which is 118 Km. The work on this section has been completed and it was commissioned in three phases, with last phase work commissioned in October 2009.
Current status of work on Katra-Banihal
The 111 km long Katra-Banihal section of the USBRL has some of the world’s highest bridges and other major tunnels en-route. Construction on this stretch is also the most challenging job for any agency as this is a hilly stretch.
Here is the full break-up of the status of construction on these bridges and tunnels:
Chenab Bridge: Chenab Bridge is the world’s highest railway bridge at 359m height from river bed. It has a total length of 1315m and consists of 17 spans with the longest span being an arch span of 467m which lies above Chenab River valley. The Bridge is designed with special consideration to wind and seismic forces such that it can withstand winds up to 266 Kmph and earthquakes of zone-V. The bridge is also designed for blast load in consultation with DRDO for the first time in India.
Another interesting fact about the bridge is that approximately 584 Km welding has been done to join the different parts of the structure, which is to the tune of distance between Jammu Tawi to New Delhi. The height of the cable crane’s pylon at Srinagar end is 127m, which is much taller than the Qutub Minar of 72m.
Status: Erection of arch, steel piers and trestle piers in the valley portion is done using one of the worlds’ longest spanning cable crane (915m) with maximum lifting capacity of 37MT. Total scope of steel used is more than 28660 MT and earthwork of more than 10 lakh cum along with more than 66000 cum of concreting has been done. Additionally high strength ground anchors (cable anchors and Dywidag bars), rock bolts, shotcrete and consolidation grouting have been provided for stability of slope below foundations. Launching of the bridge deck was completed on August 13, 2022 and was termed as ‘Golden Joint’.
Anji Bridge: Anji Bridge is Indian Railway’s first cable-stayed bridge having a total length of 725m and has a single main pylon of height 193m from foundation top and 331 m above the river bed.
Status: As far as the deck erection on this bridge is concerned, it was said that the 276m out of 473m deck has been erected which includes launching of 8 segments using Derrick (segment launcher). The sub-structure has also been completed and super structure launching/erection is underway. Segment number 8 has been launched while launching of segment number 3 will be done within a month period.
Bridge number 39: After Anji bridge, the other major bridge is bridge number 39, which is a continuous composite girder of 490 m length.
Status: The bridge is in the final stage of completion. The tallest pier P5 of this bridge is 105m from foundation level and Reasi yard is extending over this bridge and will hold two lines and also two platforms. Deck slab for Main girder has been completed and platform girder is in progress. It was informed by project executives that balance works shall be completed by Dec.
Bridge number 43: Bridge number 43 is in Bakkal and the second longest bridge of USBRL project with a total length of 777m. The bridge is a composite girder bridge with 13 spans with maximum span of 64m and curvature of 1.4 degrees at Katra end. The total quantity of steel used in the bridge is 7920 MT and earthwork of more than 2.26 lakh cum was executed in its construction. Bridge is designed for 2 tracks and Bakkal Yard extends over this Bridge.
Status: Launching of Bridge 43 was done by means of pushing method and has been successfully completed. At present concreting of the deck slab is in progress and 60% casting has already been completed.
As far as construction of Bakkal Railway Station and reinforced earth embankment in Bakkal Yard is concerned, the embankment of height 55.6 m is being constructed in Bakkal yard and 50% work has already been completed. Total earthwork involved is 2 Lac cum. Work of Bakkal station is going on in full swing and plastering and finishing work is in progress.
Tunnel T-1 (3159m) excavation of 1856 m has been completed from portal P1 end and 1039 m completed from P2 end. Now, the balance excavation is only 256m. Due to the Main boundary thrust location, the progress is very slow. Tunnel excavation requires a lot of pre- support measures and also post excavation support systems. NR/KRCL were directed to closely monitor the progress.
As far as work on the Reasi Railway Station building is concerned, the ground floor slab has been cast and shuttering work for the first floor was in progress. It was informed that GRP & RPF Barracks are being constructed below the circulating area as basement and work of the same is in full swing.
205 Km approach roads constructed under USBRL
Under the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Railway Link Project, more than 205 Km long approach roads have been constructed which include one tunnel and 320 bridges. This has provided connectivity to 73 far-flung villages, thus giving benefits to around 1.5 lakh souls. PMGSY roads are also taking off from these approach roads now.
500 lakh man-days generated
For 1833.92 hectares of land acquired for the construction of the 272-Km-long USBRL Project, the railway authorities have provided jobs to 799 eligible land givers who have given 75% of the total land for the project. The project has also provided employment to 14069 contractors, around 65% of them locals.
Meanwhile, the project has generated 500 lakh man-days, thus employment opportunities to the local labourers and artisans.
In addition to this, the project has also provided skill training to many artisans who are now employed elsewhere.