The Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) will construct the world’s tallest railway bridge near Noney in Manipur, of which a 100-m pier has already been constructed. The 141-m bridge is part of a new broad gauge line being constructed to connect the north-eastern state with the rest of the country.
The bridge is being constructed across the valley of River Ijai near Noney and is part of the 111-km Jiribam-Tupul-Imphal new broad gauge line project in Manipur. The total length of the bridge is 703 m and the piers of the bridge are being constructed using hydraulic augers.
Surpassing the existing record of the 139-m Mala-Rijeka viaduct at Montenegro in Europe, the piers of the Noney bridge are designed with the help of slip-form technique to ensure efficient and continual construction. The steel girders, which are prefabricated in a workshop, are transported in segments and erected at site by a cantilever launching scheme. Also, self-erecting electric lifts are used at each pier for the safe and speedy conveyance of men and materials to the top. With a total of 45 tunnels in the project, tunnel number 12 will be the longest railway tunnel in the northeast, with a tunnel length of 10.280 km.
However, inadequacy of roads and bridges, which are used for the mobility of raw material, is a major hurdle in the construction of the bridge. “Mobility is very difficult considering the single line,” says Anand Prakash, Chief Administrative Officer, NF Railway Construction. “Many a times, roads are closed for two to three months a year. Road connectivity and getting good supervisors are major challenges we have come across. Also, it is an intense rain area.”
The Noney Bridge link is an important link, especially for Imphal, the capital of Manipur. “Imphal cannot be connected without making this bridge,” he adds. “It comes under the capital connectivity project. So, to connect Imphal from the mainland, this is the most sorted route.” Besides, it also has the potential for a Trans-Asian Railway (TAR). “Once Imphal is connected, there is a gap of almost 235 km; 110 km on the Indian side and 125 km on the Myanmar side. Connection of these two links would develop TAR connectivity, thus linking to Myanmar,” he concludes.
The project has picked up momentum in the past three years owing to its importance as a national project and is expected to be complete by June 2020.