Said to be India’s longest rail-cum-road bridge, and possibly Asia’s too, the Bogibeel double-deck bridge is all set to be fully operational by March 2018. The bridge is being built over the Brahmaputra in the Dibrugarh district of Assam, connecting the North and the South banks of the river. Once complete, it will greatly benefit the lesser developed areas of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.
The lower deck of the bridge will comprise of a two-line railway track and the upper deck will boast of a three-lane road. The total length of the rail-cum-road bridge is 4940m or 4.9 km. The entire project involves laying down 74 km of railway line, including the rail linking on the North and South banks of the river. The rail line will be linked to Chowalkhowa, that is 5.83km from Dibrugarh, on the South Bank and Sisi Borgaon and Sirpani on the North bank. The present estimated cost of the entire Bogibeel bridge project (including the linking from banks) is Rs 4,857 crore.
For the purpose of building the bridge, Indian Railways had to constrict the expanse of the Brahmaputra river from 10 kilometres to 5 kilometres. This involved construction of ‘guide bunds’. ‘Guide bunds’ also help in protecting the barrage (bridge structure) from erosion, control the velocity of river water flow and its tendency to change course. Explains PranavJyoti Sharma, Chief Public Relations Officer of Northeast Frontier Railway, “What was challenging for the Indian Railways was the fact that it (the bridge) is being built over a 5km expanse of the river. You have to train the river to flow under the bridge. It’s no mean feat.”
What else makes the bridge special? Says PranavJyoti Sharma, “This is a 100% welded bridge and we are using technology from firms of Sweden and Denmark. Being 100% welded makes the bridge lightweight. Fully welded girders ensure reduction in weight in comparison with the riveted girders. It also makes the bridge less costly.” “State-of-the-art technology is being used for the construction of this bridge,” he adds.
The bridge, which is being built entirely by the Indian Railways (both rail and road parts), has been under construction for several years now. Its foundation stone was first laid by the then PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2002. The trial runs for trains on the bridge will begin in 2017 and with its expected completion in 2018, the Bogibeel bridge will add one more important chapter to railway connectivity in the Northeast.