India’s longest rail bridge
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 on Vallarpadam island across the Vembanad lake in Ernakulam district of Kerala. Due to be commissioned in November this year, it will be the longest rail bridge in India. Currently, the record is held by the Nehru Sethu near Dehri-on-Sone. Located on the Kolkata-Delhi Line, the Nehru Setu is 3.065-km long. ‘‘This is the longest railway bridge ever built in India and the project contractors AFCONS have done a wonderful job,’’ says G Kesava Chandran, Deputy General Manager of public sector undertaking Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd (RVNL), which is overseeing the works. ‘‘The work on the substructure, which began in May 2007, is almost over and what remains is the rail link which we will finish in the next couple of months,’’ said Chandran. The structure has a clearance of seven metres above the water and is made of 134 pillars. ‘‘The bridge is part of the railway line for the ICTT. It was extended by 700 metres to avoid land acquisition in a nearby area which is densely populated,’’ Chandran said. Land acquisition for the project had initially run into opposition from the locals. The initial cost of the line was estimated to be Rs 246 crore. But with the price of the raw materials like steel going up, it has now been revised to Rs 298 crore. The entire project was funded by the Centre. About 18,000 tonnes of cement and 50,000 metric tonnes of steel had gone into the structure. The ambitious ICTT project, which is also slated to be commissioned in November 2009, is expected to save exporters of crores of rupees ‘wasted’ in trans-shipment 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 SEZ, International Ship Repair complex, Petro chemical complex for Gas Authority of India and cruise ship terminals.