The Vallarpadam railway link in Kochi, Kerala, is the longest rail bridge in India. The 4.62km rail bridge is part of an 8.86km rail corridor connecting the International Container Transshipment Terminal (ICTT) on Vallarpadam Island with Edappally, a suburb in Kochi city.

The Vallarpadam-Edappally/Idapalli railway connects the existing Southern Railway Network. The rail bridge stretches from the ICTT terminal to the inhabited area of Vaduthala. It surpasses the 3.065km-long Nehru Setu Bridge on the Sone River in Bihar, the second longest railway bridge in the country.

The rail link forms a crucial project for commissioning operations of ICTT – the first international container transshipment terminal in India. The railway link will be exclusively used for goods container traffic to and from ICTT.

The project had some initial delays pertaining to land acquisitions, but work began in May 2007. The bridge construction started in October 2007 and was completed in March 2010.

"The Vallarpadam railway link is the longest rail bridge in India built in Kochi."

On 31 March 2010, a successful trial run was conducted on the Edappally to Vallarpadam route. The Vallarpadam-Edappally railway line and allied infrastructure were built at a cost of Rs3.5bn. It was entirely funded by the Central Government through the Ministry of Shipping.

The Rs21.18bn ICTT transshipment container terminal is beingdeveloped by Dubai Port International. It is scheduled to be completed in three phases. The first phase was finished in February 2011. Royal Haskoning was awarded the contract for the first phase as design and PMC supervision consultant. The first phase of development achieved a capacity of handling 1 million TEU of container per annum. After the completion of third phase of development, the terminal will have a capacity of 4 million TEUs of cargo in a year.

About 17.5km of the Rs9bn road to Vallarpadam (NH-47C) was constructed from Kalamassery to Vallarpadam by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI). The two-lane connectivity was completed and the road was commissioned in October 2010. The connectivity projects included the Rs13bn channel deepening, international bunkering terminal, bulk cargo and cruise ship terminals and an international marina. Construction work on additional two lanes is still underway and expected to be complete by 2013.

Other industrial infrastructure projects enabled by ICTT in the state include the port-based Rs15.1bn Special Economic Zone, the INR3.15bn International Ship Repair complex, a Rs7.2bn single buoy moorings (SBM) for Kochi Refineries, a Rs70bn Gas Authority of India (GAIL) petrochemical complex and a INR16bn LNG terminal.

Vallarpadam railway route

The 8.86km track starts from the existing Southern Railway Network at Edappally railway station. It runs about 3km parallel to an existing track until it reaches Vaduthala. Culverts, minor bridges and earthen embankment were constructed for this route. The line then passes through the 4.62km-long railway bridge, and the Vaduthala inhabited area and its backwaters.

"A successful trial run was conducted on the Edappally to Vallarpadam route."

The Vallarpadam railway bridge passes through three small islands, including the Idyakkara and Mulavukadu islands, before finally reaching Vallarpadam. About 80% of the bridge is constructed over the backwaters of Vembanad Lake.

The track was laid using 52kg rails, 30cm ballast cushions and pre-stressed concrete sleepers with accurate specifications. The railway track has electrical lines and the latest signalling systems. 

Vallarpadam railway bridge details

The construction of the Vallarpadam railway beam bridge required about 11,700t of reinforced steel, metal aggregates of about 99,000m³, cement of 58,000t and sand of 73,500m³. The bridge was built with 132 spans using 231 pre-stressed concrete girders of about 22t each. Some of the equipment, such as launching girders machines, was imported from China to speed up the work. Concrete pumping technology was used to a length of 1,800m during bridge foundation constructions.

The 7.5m-high bridge also included 154,308m3 of earthwork and 127,000m3 of concrete work, and a total pile length of 65,000m. Each pile foundation of 1.2m diameter was driven to an average depth of 55m. A total of 12.5ha of land that belonged to the government, the Cochin Port Trust and Indian Railways was acquired for the Vallarpadam-Edappally railway line.

Vallarpadam railway link infrastructure

The infrastructure for the Vallarpadam railway link includes a goods yard, a recently completed modern railway station at Edappally and a railway yard at Vallarpadam, which is nearing completion. The railway terminal at ICTT will be built with two rail-handling sidings with a capacity to serve 12 trains a day. The Vallarpadam-Edappally railway line also includes four small bridges and road connectivity to ICTT.

Key players

The client for the railway line project is Rail Vikas Nigam (RVNL), a public sector undertaking of Indian Railways. RVNL was appointed as a special purpose vehicle to execute the railway link between the Vallarpadam ICTT project site and the Edappally railway station. Afcons Infrastructure, a subsidiary of the Shapoorji Pallonji Group, built the bridge for the RVNL.