Twenty-one years after its sanction and 16 years after its construction began, India’s longest railroad bridge, the Bogibeel bridge was finally inaugurated in Assam on 25th December. Built by Hindustan Construction Company, the 4.94 km bridge has a two-line railway track on the lower deck and a three-lane road on the top deck.
Until now, the distinction of being the longest rail bridge belonged to the 4.62 km-long Vembanad railbridge in Kerala. While the cost of constructing the bridge was initially estimated at Rs.32.30 billion thanks to the inordinate delay in execution the costs ballooned by nearly 85% to Rs.59 billion. A first for the Indian Railways, the girders have a steel floor system for the railway tracks and concrete used for the roads.
The bridge will connect two main national highways—NH-37 on the south bank and NH-52 on the north bank. It connects Dibrugarh on the south bank of the Brahmaputra river to Dhemji district which borders Arunachal Pradesh cutting down the commute time between the two states by four hours. According to the Government, the bridge will reduce the distance to the Northeast region by 165 km, saving fuel worth Rs.1 million/day in the region.
More importantly it will help in enhancing India’s defence capabilities in the North East region as both forces and military equipment can be deployed faster across the Arunachal-China border. The bridge which has a serviceable period of 120 years is designed to bear the weight of Indian Army’s heaviest battle tanks and fighter jets can land on it as well.