CHALLENGES IN DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION OF WORLD’S TALLEST RAIL BRIDGE IN INDIA
As part of Northeast Policy, Ministry of Railways took up the project of providing rail connectivity to Imphal in Manipur state. As per the detailed survey, the rail alignment takes-off from existing Jiribam station in Assam and traverses a length of 111km before connecting to Imphal, running along the picturesque lush green scenery of Northeast, marked by hills, valleys, waterfalls and rivers. At present people have to travel by road on the existing National Highway (NH-37) which is 230km long with several steep gradients, hair-pin bends and weak bridges. It takes more than 10 hours by road, whereas it will be less than 2 hours once the rail line is commissioned. The rail link has other advantages of strategic importance, ushers economic development of Manipur state with tremendous tourist potential and more importantly, It will also form a vital link of the proposed Trans-Asian Rail Network connecting several countries. As the rail line crosses series of hill ranges, several tunnels and viaducts are necessary to maintain the gradient required for a railway line! One of these viaducts is spanning across a gorge of width 700m and depth 141m which is the World’s tallest pier bridge of this category, surpassing the previous record of 139m in a rail line in in Europe. In this paper, it is endeavored to discuss the various challenges encountered and specific techniques developed in designing and building this World record bridge to make it safe and sustainable.