In past Famous Last Words, I’ve mentioned my love of steam engines and railways and still can’t for the life of me figure out why there isn’t a fast rail link up the East Coast of Australia, not just for passenger but for freight which would free up the main highway of semi-trailers, but I digress and that’s a discussion for another day, I also love the infrastructure associated with railways.
I find it fascinating that the great railway journeys cross deserts and the arctic areas of the world, around and through mountain ranges, and under vast amounts of sea, how they all came about being in the first place.
Consequently, having spent some time on motor bikes in the Himalayan area of northern India, and seen first-hand how remote and inaccessible the areas are, I was interested to see that the world’s highest bridge was nearing completion, not in China like nearly all other longest, biggest, and ugliest things, but over the Chenab River in the Himachal Pradesh region of India, an area I’d actually ridden through.
The Chenab River is one of the region’s major rivers that has its head waters in the upper Himalayas of Himachal Pradesh state, it flows through the Jammu and Kashmir regions of India and through Pakistan where it joins the Indus River.
The Chenab Rail Bridge is one of those engineering master pieces that in so many ways beggars’ belief. Apart from the areas isolation and the inaccessible terrain it’s built in, the fact that it’s 359m above the Chenab River and 1,315m long including a 650m viaduct on the northern side is astounding.
The base supports were completed in November 2017, allowing the main arch construction to commence and which was completed in April 2021, with the bridge to open to rail traffic in December 2022.
If you enjoy engineering feats and building Lego things, I think you’ll be interested in this bbc Reel video that looks at the planning and construction of the Chenab Rail Bridge, as well as the benefits that it will bring to the local people