Bogibeel, India’s Longest Rail-cum-road Bridge; Strategic Emancipation

Bogibeel, India’s Longest Rail-cum-road Bridge; Strategic Emancipation

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Bogibeel bridge

Bogibeel bridge is a combined road and rail bridge over the Brahmaputra river in the northeastern Indian state of Assam between Dhemaji district and Dibrugarh district. Upon its expected completion at the end of 2018 the 4.94 km bridge, work on which was started in 2002, will be the longest rail-cum-road bridge in India. It  is likely to be inaugurated in October this year. Bogibeel bridge in the North-East part of India has been a major engineering challenge for Indian Railways. Several reports suggest that PM Narendra Modi is likely to inaugurate it.

Inauguration

Bogibeel, India’s longest rail-cum-road bridge, is likely to be inaugurated in October this year. Bogibeel bridge in the North-East part of India has been a major engineering challenge for Indian Railways. Built over the Brahmaputra river, Bogibeel bridge connects the North and South banks of river Brahmaputra and is situated in the eastern region of Arunachal Pradesh and Assam. The Bogibeel bridge will provide much-needed connectivity between Dibrugarh in Assam to Pasighat in Arunachal Pradesh. The 4.94 kilometres long rail-cum-road Bogibeel bridge has two railway lines at its lower deck and a three lane road bridge on the top. Pranav Jyoti Sharma, Chief Public Relations officer of North-East Frontier Railway told FE Online that the bridge is likely to be inaugurated in October this year. Several reports suggest that given the strategic and infrastructure-related importance of the Bogibeel bridge, PM Narendra Modi is likely to inaugurate it. Another interesting fact is that the foundation stone for Bogibeel bridge was laid down by former late PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2002. The bridge has faced several construction delays, also because of the challenge of building it over a turbulent Brahmaputra river. Most of the crucial work of the bridge could only happen during the November to March period because for the rest of the year, early flooding makes Brahmaputra river unsafe.

Advantages

There are many different designs that each serve a particular purpose and apply to different situations. Designs of rail cum bridges vary depending on the function of the bridge, the nature of the terrain where the bridge is constructed and anchored, the material used to make it, and the funds available to build it. In this regard, Bogibeel bridge will save a lot of time both in terms of road and rail travel. As of now a train journey from Arunachal Pradesh to Assam Dibrugarh means a detour of 500 kilometres via Guwahati. But, with the Bogibeel bridge, the train journey will be less than 100 kilometres! Additionally, Delhi to Dibrugarh train travel time will also come down by about three hours to 34 hours as against 37 hours presently.

The 100% welded Bogibeel bridge has been built at a height of 32 metres above the water level. The bridge, which has been made making use of techniques from Sweden and Denmark, is much lighter when compared to bridges with riveted girders. The design too is similar to a bridge that connects Sweden and Denmark. Built at an estimated cost of Rs 4857 crore, the Bogibeel bridge is the second longest in Asia.

India’s longest bridge coming up across the mighty Brahmaputra at Bogibeel in Assam is not only expected to be a lifeline for the Northeast, but will also strengthen the country’s security.

Scheduled to be completed in 2018, the 4.94 km rail-cum-road bridge, a product of the 1985 Assam Accord and being implemented by the North East Frontier Railway, will provide connectivity to upper Assam and Arunachal Pradesh and cut down the distance to the border with China by 10 hours.

Railway officials said that the rail link would connect two existing railway networks running at south bank and north bank of the river. The bridge starts from Chaulkhowa station and Moranhat station at south bank and joins in between Sisibargaon station and Siripani station of Rangiya-Murkongselek section in north bank. Right now it takes one and a half hours to cross the river, but once the bridge is inaugurated, the travel time will be reduced to a few minutes. Besides, movement of goods will also be possible on a larger scale.

Strategic Location and connectivity

The Bogibeel bridge, situated 17 km downstream of Dibrugarh and Dhemaji, spans the Brahmaputra river and will connect the town of Dibrugarh in the south to Dhemaji to the river’s north. The bridge is located just over 20 km away from the Assam- Arunachal Pradesh border and is thus expected to act as an alternative to the Kolia Bhomora Setu, Tezpur in providing connectivity to nearly five million people residing in Upper Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.

Bogibeel is the fourth rail-road bridge on the Brahmaputra river in Assam. Due to its location, the bridge will be of strategic importance to India as it will significantly enhance India’s ability to transport troops and supplies to its border with Tibet in Arunachal Pradesh. Being located in an area of intense rainfall, construction has been significantly slowed down by the fact that construction largely takes place only during a period of four dry months between November and March.

Bogibeel bridge will provide a connection between the Rangia-Murkongselek section of the North East Frontier Railway on the north bank of Brahmaputra and LumdingDibrugarh section that lies to the south of the Brahmaputra. A New Dibrugarh Railway Station, expected to be the largest in the region, has been proposed and is to be linked to the Rangia – Murkongselek line via Chaulkhowa and Moranhat. The Railways have initiated the gauge conversion of the Dhamalgaon to Sisiborgaon rail line to the north of the bridge and commissioned the 44 km Chalkhowa – Moranhat line to the south.

It will also give easy and direct access to the upper Assam from the rest of the country through the North bank, in contrast to the current route through Guwahati in the South bank – which is long and tortuous. The bridge will improve connectivity between people residing in Upper Assam and Arunachal Pradesh who at present are largely dependent on Tezpur bridge for the same. The bridge will also add to India’s strategic infrastructure strengthening our capability to transport troops and supplies to our sensitive border with China in Arunachal Pradesh.

The standout features

Bogibeel bridge, in India’s North-East, is the country’s longest rail-cum-road bridge. Apart from the obvious fame factor of being the longest rail-road bridge, the Bogibeel bridge is special for several reasons. For one, it has been built by Indian Railways over river Brahmaputra and provides crucial rail-road connectivity to the lesser developed districts of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. For another, the Bogibeel bridge comprises of two railway lines and a three lane road bridge on top.

The civil work for the bridge is expected to be complete by July, after which the signalling and electrical work will be done  estimated to take two months. Given the huge infrastructure and strategic importance of the Bogibeel, PM Narendra Modi is expected to inaugurate it by the end of this year.

 

 

That’s around 16 years after the then PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee laid the foundation stone of the Bogibeel bridge in 2002! Bogibeel bridge is 4.94 kilometres long, revised from an initial estimated length of 4.31 kilometres. PM Modi has time and again stressed on need to improve railway and road connectivity to the North-East states, and the Bogibeel bridge is a crucial step in that direction. Analysed below are few outstanding feature of this bridge.

1.Connectivity: Bogibeel bridge, which has taken several years to build, will connect the North and South banks of river Brahmaputra in the Eastern region of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.

2.Defence boost: The 4.94 kilometres long Bogibeel bridge will be a big boost for the defence forces as it will provide faster connectivity to areas near the India-China border. This means swifter movement of troops and weapons systems.

3.The journey: Bogibeel bridge is located around 17-kilometres away (downstream) of Assam’s Dibrugarh area. As stated above, the foundation stone for the Bogibeel bridge was laid on 2022 and in 2007, the UPA government had accorded it the status of a National Project. The Modi government had asked for expediting work on the bridge which had already missed several deadlines.

4.Challenges: Bogibeel bridge is also unique for the challenges that were faced in constructing it. Speaking to Financial Express Online, North-East Frontier Railway CPRo Pranav Jyoti Sharma has earlier said that crucial the work for the bridge could only happen between November and March. That’s because early flooding the river Brahmaputra makes it unsafe to continue work. The bridge required huge amounts of construction material to be mobilised in those few months. According to Sharma, the transportation of concrete across the river channels of 600 metres to 900 metres width from the banks was the biggest challenge. This was overcome by adopting pumping of concrete through pipe line laid over buoys.

5.Rail links: As mentioned above, Bogibeel is a rail-cum road bridge and will connect two existing railway networks that run at the North and South banks of river Brahmaputra. At the South bank of the river, the railway link starts from Chalkhowa and Moranhat stations and joins in between the Sisibargaon and Siripani stations of Rangiya-Murkongselek section at North Bank through the Bogibeel bridge.

The North bank railway link was converted from metre gauge to broad gauge. According to Indian Railways, the block section between Dhamalgaon and Tangani station will be a double line section under which the Bogibeel Bridge lies.

6. Road links: A 29.446 km national highway will connect NH-37 at South Bank and NH-52 at North Bank of river Brahmaputra. The national highway road link will consist of 11.25 km at South Bank, 13.26 km at North Bank and 4.94 km on the Bogibeel bridge.

7.Saving time: Bogibeel bridge’s biggest benefit is the time that it will save. As of now a train journey from Arunachal Pradesh to Assam’s Dibrugarh requires a 500 km detour via Guwahati. Now, the journey will be less than 100 km. Also, the train journey between Delhi and Dibrugarh will also come down from 37 hours at present (via Guwahati) to 34 hours a reduction of 3 hours.

8.Fully welded structure: According to Pranav Jyoti Sharma, Bogibeel bridge is a 100% welded bridge! Technology from firms of Sweden and Denmark have been used for its construction. One advantage of a 100% welded ridge is that it is light and the fully welded girders mean reduction in the weight when compared to riveted girders.

9.Estimated cost: The Bogibeel bridge project was initially sanctioned at a cost of Rs 3230.02 crore, but the final cost was revised to Rs 4857 crore keeping in mind cost escalation and increase in the length of the bridge to 4.94 km as against 4.31 km proposed earlier.

10.Other facts: Bogibeel bridge is the second longest in Asia and has been built 32 metres above the Brahmaputra river water level. The design of the bridge is similar to that of a bridge that connects Denmark and Sweden.

Importance of communication of North East: Bogibeel – one way step towards it

Although the states of Northeast India are small in terms of area,  numerically and economicallythey are increasingly gaining a significant strategic value. With ASEAN engagement becoming a central pillar of India’s foreign policy direction, these states play an important role as the physical bridge between India and Southeast Asia. Due to this, there has been a renewed interest by the federal government in advancing the region’s infrastructure and capability. This can be seen in initiatives such as the Act EastPolicy, which places the northeastern states on the territorial frontier of the India’s eastward engagement. One of the top priorities of the) government has been to address this sense of alienation by fast-tracking development and enhancing physical connectivity. During one of his first visits to the region after becoming Prime Minister, Narendra Modi spoke of the importance of seamless physical connectivity between the Northeast and the rest of the country for enhancing emotional connect with the people of the region. Northeast India, thus, is ignited by fresh hopes for not only its own progress and development, but also for playing an increasingly important role in the economic, social and strategic development of the country.

Info and Sources

  • https://www.financialexpress.com
  • https://www.assamtimes.org/node/20243
  • https://indianexpress.com/article/india/bogibeel-indias-longest-road-rail-bridge/
  • http://www.erewise.com
  • http://www.gammonindia.com
  • https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/06/Bogibeel_Bridge.jpg/1200px-Bogibeel_ Bridge.jpg
  • https://images.financialexpress.com/2018/05/bogibeel-1.jpg
  • http://stz.india.com/sites/default/files/styles/zeebiz_850x478/public/2018/01/25/28573-bridge-pti.jpg
  • http://railanalysis.in/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/ 17991870_1021576641277276_3768468732959220608_n.jpg
  • https://media2.mensxp.com/media/content/2018/May/img-1-1525919036.jpg

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