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Manipur’s railway Bridge no. 53, world’s highest pier bridge, dwarfs peer in Montenegro

The Bridge no 53, the world's highest pier bridge in the Jiribam Imphal New Line Project

The first ever passenger train of Manipur will pass over the tallest pier bridge in the world, towering over the mighty Barak River, the state’s largest. Bridge no.53, constructed by the Indian Railway, is positioned at a tricky location, where the tallest pier stands at a height of 75 metres. Excited about its dizzy achievement, the Indian Railways tweeted on Sunday:  

“Bridge no.53 in the Jiribam-Imphal New Line Project has been constructed on the river Barak; the largest river of Manipur. The bridge is situated at a difficult location where the height of the tallest Piers is as high as 75m (higher than Qutub Minar).

According to the railways, the Northeast Frontier Railway is constructing the world's tallest bridge pier in Manipur which is a part of 111 km Jiribam-Imphal railway project. The bridge is being built at a pier height of 141 metre (equivalent to a 34-storey building), breaking the existing record of 139 metre Mala-Rijeka viaduct, at Montenegro in Europe.

Last year the Railway Ministry had shared the picture of the bridge when it was under construction.

The project is part of the government’s ‘Act East’ policy, focused on connecting all state capitals in the Northeast with broad gauge and strengthening rail networks in border areas of the region. This effort is necessary to connect the northeast region with the 10-nation Association of the South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).   Of the eight Northeast state capitals, Agartala, Guwahati and Itanagar have already been connected with broad gauge rail networks since 2014. The deadline for connecting all the state capitals with broad gauge rail network was delayed because of Covid-19 situations.

Also Read: Gadkari fires India's Act East Policy with highway blitz in Manipur

The railways point out that the bridge will be 703 meters. “The total length of the bridge will be 703 meters. The piers of the bridge are constructed using hydraulic augers. The tall piers needed specially designed ‘slip-form technique’ to ensure efficient and continual construction,” says the Railway Ministry. The steel girders are pre-fabricated in a workshop, transported in segments and erected at the site.

The Tupul-Imphal railway tunnel on the Jiribam-Imphal line is one of India’s longest rail tunnels at 10.28 km.

The 111-kilometre long Jiribam-Imphal new line is a challenging project in the hilly terrain of the young Himalayas, having 47 tunnels, 156 bridges including 141 metre high pier bridge.

The 111-km-long Jiribam-Imphal line is a national project which is to be completed by March 2022. A budget of Rs. 13,809 crore was announced by the Central Government. This project was taken up in 2008 and declared as the National Project. Three IITs–Kanpur, Roorkee and Guwahati– are also associated with the project, imparting technical support, as well as proof-checking the designs, to make the bridge stronger and cheaper. 

The railway line passes through steep rolling hills of the Patkai range and traverses through a number of deep gorges. It was necessary to construct 47 tunnels and 156 bridges, crossing 10 stations to maintain a suitable gradient for efficient operation of railway services. The ministry says that efforts are on to complete the entire railway project in Manipur before December 2021.