India’s first vertical-lift railway bridge at Pamban to be operational soon

At present, all trains terminate at Mandapam and people use road routes to reach Rameswaram.

ByPTI

Published Feb 23, 2024 | 10:01 AMUpdatedFeb 23, 2024 | 10:01 AM

The train services between Mandapam on the mainland and Rameswaram Island were suspended on 23 December 2022 after the existing rail bridge (pictured), which was built in 1913, was declared non-operational from a safety point of view. (Shaswat Nimesh/Wikimedia Commons)

By Jeevan Prakash Sharma

The Pamban railway bridge, India’s first vertical-lift bridge connecting the country’s mainland with Rameswaram Island, will become operational very soon, Railway Board chairperson Jaya Varma Sinha said on Thursday.

Varma, who recently visited Rameswaram to review the progress of the work, told PTI, “The re-construction work is going very well and we will be restoring the services very soon.”

“Our people have done a commendable job considering the multiple challenges that they have been facing in the bridge re-construction. Building a vertical-lift bridge, which is the first-of-its-kind in the country, on the sea which tends to get very rough is a very challenging task,” the Railway Board chairperson and chief executive officer (CEO) said.

The train services between Mandapam on the mainland and Rameswaram Island were suspended on 23 December 2022 after the existing rail bridge, which was built in 1913, was declared non-operational from a safety point of view.

“As the old Pamban bridge aged and was not safe for usage, the need to construct a new bridge became necessary,” a Southern Railway (SR) official said.

The official added that trains to Rameswaram will first arrive at Mandapam in Ramanathapuram district in Tamil Nadu.

“When the Pamban bridge was operational, trains used to move to the bridge and reach Rameswaram. They used to move slowly on the Pamban bridge and reach the pilgrimage town in about 15 minutes,” he added.

At present, all trains terminate at Mandapam and people use road routes to reach Rameswaram.

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Covid delayed bridge construction

Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone of the new bridge, parallel to the old one, in November 2019 and the work was started in February 2020 by Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL).

It was supposed to be completed by December 2021, however, the deadline was extended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the SR, the 2.05-km-long bridge will allow the Indian Railways to operate trains at a higher speed and it will also increase traffic between the mainland of India and Rameswaram Island.

Till a road bridge was constructed in 1988, train services were the only link connecting Mandapam to Rameswaram Island situated in the Gulf of Mannar.

Talking about the old bridge, the SR said that its vertical clearance was only 1.5 metres between the high tide level and the bottom of the girder resulting in splashing of sea water on the girders.

“With only less residual life of the bridge being left, it was decided to reconstruct the bridge suitable for double lines including navigational lift span parallel to the existing bridge,” the SR spokesperson said.

He added, “The new bridge will have 100 spans of 18.3 m and one navigational span of 63 m. It will be 3.0 m higher than the existing bridge with navigational air clearance of 22.0 m above sea level.”

According to the SR, the substructure of the bridge has been built for the double lines and the navigational span will also have provision for double lines.

“The entire bridge including the navigational span has been designed keeping in mind the railways’ plan of electrification. In comparison to existing manual operation and control, the new bridge will have electro-mechanical controlled systems which will be interlocked with train control systems,” the spokesperson said.

The railways has deployed cutting-edge technologies like stainless steel reinforcement, composite sleepers, and a long-life painting system in the construction of the new bridge.

(Disclaimer: The headline, subheads, and intro of this report along with the photos may have been reworked by South First. The rest of the content is from a syndicated feed, and has been edited for style.)