The arch bridge is the highest railway bridge in the world and will be 35 meters higher than the iconic Eiffel Tower in Paris

Chenab Bridge in Jammu and Kashmir, the world's highest railway bridge which is 359 metres above the river bed, achieved a key construction milestone today with completion of the steel arch of the iconic structure.

The bridge is part of the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Link (USBRL) project which will connect Kashmir Valley with the rest of the country.

A beautiful shape of the arch will now loom over the Chenab, flowing some 359 metres below.

The 1,315-m long arch bridge is the highest railway bridge in the world and will be 35 meters higher than the iconic Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Ministry of Railways said in a statement.

The achievement is a major leap towards the completion of the 111- km long winding stretch from Katra to Banihal, as it was touted to be one of the most difficult parts of the bridge over the Chenab.

Completing the feat and overcoming the biggest civil-engineering challenge faced by any railway project in India in recent times, the 5.6-metre last piece of metal was fitted at the highest point joining the two arms of the arch, the ministry said.

After completion of the arch work, the next daunting task of removal of the stay cables, filling of the concrete in the arch rib, erection of the steel trestle, launching of the viaduct and track laying will be taken up.

Union Minister for Railways Piyush Goyal, Chairman & CEO Railway Board Suneet Sharma, and General Manager Northern Railway Ashutosh Gangal witnessed the completion of the historic arch through video conferencing.

Listing the unique features of the bridge, the railway ministry said it can withstand high wind speed up to 266 Km/Hour, and can bear earthquake forces of highest intensity Zone-V in India.

In another first for any such structure in the country, the bridge has been designed to withstand explosive blasts in consultation with the Defence Research & Development Organisation.

Global expertise was also used for the engineering marvel. Leonhardt, Andra and Partners, Germany, were involved in designing; firms from the UK were involved and expertise from IIT Delhi and Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, was used for the rail transport project that will help trade, tourism in the region and the armed forces as well.

The process of closing the arch started on February 20 this year.