Longest rail bridge running ahead of schedule
Engineers in Kochi are giving final touches to the 4.62 Km. long rail bridge connecting the mainland to the proposed international container transshipment terminal (ICTT) on Vallarpadam Island across the picturesque Vembanad lake. The bridge is being executed by Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd, (RVNL) a government undertaking under the ministry of Railways. The main contractor for this project is M/S Afcons Infrastructures Ltd.
Due to be commissioned this month, it will be the longest rail bridge in India surpassing the currently held record by the Nehru Setu Bridge near Dehri on the river Sone located on the Kolkatta – Delhi Line, the Nehru Setu is 3.065 Km. long.
This project being very crucial for commissioning the operations of ICTT and is being monitored closely by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) for meeting the ambitious tight time schedule. In spite of initial time delays on account of land acquisition by the state authorities, RVNL is confident of completing the railway link ahead of schedule as their main contractor, AFCONS is well geared up and doing an excellent job.
The bridge would not only create a record of longest railway bridge so far constructed in India but also would be the bridge constructed in shortest time period (less than 30 months). The speedy construction could mainly be attributed to the deployment of latest equipment into the project by Afcons. The highly sophisticated beam launcher equipment which is used for launching the pre-cast superstructure (concrete beams) has been specially designed and imported for this project and is capable of launching 12 spans in a month which equals to 600mts length of the bridge. Another modern technology used in this bridge is pumping of concrete for a length of 1800m. This became necessary as there is no easy access to most of the bridge foundation locations.
The total cost of the line is estimated to be about Rs300 crore. The bridge is made up of 134 pillars supported on pile foundation. The depths of piles vary between 45m to 55m. About 50,000 tonnes of cement and 18,000 metric tones of steel had gone into the structure. The ambitious ICTT project, which is also stated to be commissioned in this month, is expected to save exporters of crores of rupees “wasted” in transshipment of their goods through other ports like Dubai and Colombo. The project is also set to transform the industrial environment in the state.
Coming up alongside the ICTT are a Rs. 1,600 Crore LNG terminal, the port based Special Economic Zone, International Ship Repair Complex, SBM (Single Body Moorings) for Kochi Refineries Ltd., Petro Chemical Complex for Gas Authority of India, International bunkering terminal, bulk cargo terminals, cruise ship terminals and an international marina.