VISAKHAPATNAM: A mammoth operation is on to restore a portion of the bridge between Tyada and Araku on the Kothavalasa-Kirandul railway track considered lifeline of the Waltair Division of the East Coast Railway. A part of the bridge was blown away by the Oct 12 Hudhud cyclone. Restoration work is tricky and challenging as the bridge is located right above a deep gorge on the hilly terrain.
The KK Line has the distinction of being the second highest railway line in the country after the one in Jammu. The highest point of the railway line is at Simliguda, which is 996 metres from the mean sea level.
The 438 km long KK Line is important because it transports iron ore from Bacheli and Kirandul mines of NMDC in Chhattisgarh. Usually, 12 rakes, each consisting of 59 wagons, bring iron ore to Visakhapatnam almost every day. A part of the ore is used by the Steel Plant and the rest is exported from the Visakhapatnam Port Trust. As the KK line is not available now, only about six-seven rakes are being moved to Visakhapatnam via Koraput and Rayagad. Because of the reduced volume of freight, the Waltair Division is losing a revenue of `20 crore per day.
On the day Hudhud struck, the winds and the downpour triggered landslides on hill slopes damaging the track at several places. The most debilitating was the landslide that hit the bridge. Under its impact, an 80 ft long girder in the middle of the bridge over a very deep valley came off and was blown away. The total length of the bridge is 165 ft.
The challenge before the railways is not only to find a new girder but also to set it up to restore the bridge. After frantic inquires, officials found the girder and it is now being modified to suit the requirement. The original bridge had a curvature of 8 degrees and the new girder is being modified accordingly.
The KK line was laid in 1965 by the Japanese. The technology they used was unique because the terrain on which the line has to be laid was very inhospitable. Now using the technology, the new girder has to be
placed and joined with the rest of the bridge. The railways have moved supports (cribs) which are being set up from the bottom of the gorge to a height of 20 metres to support the girder and once the girder is in place, the cribs could be removed. “The entire task is very daunting but we are confident of doing it by the middle of November,” Waltair Divisional Railway Manager Anil Kumar said.