CHENNAI: The IIT-Madras has given technical approval to a proposal to replace the old Scherzer’s span of the century-old Pamban rail bridge that connects Rameswaram island with the mainland.In January 2013, India’s first cantilever bridge suffered a damage after a barge crashed into it and the Railways carried out repair works and replaced 28 eroded girders out of the 146 girders.
Subsequently, in 2016, as part of strengthening of the bridge, the Railways had decided to replace manually operated 65.23 metre-long old span with a suitable electronic span to enable ships to pass under the bridge.
Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL), the engineering arm of Indian Railways, has been entrusted with the responsibility to replace the existing two leaf structure with the vertical lift type span for `28.50 crore.
“Design of an electronic single span was sent to IIT-Madras for technical approval. We have been just informed that the single truss span structure has been approved with a minor correction. After completing due procedures, bids will be invited for bridge construction,” said a senior official from RVNL.
As of now, about 10 to 15 cargo ships, Coast Guard ships, fishing vessels and oil tankers pass under the bridge every month.
The existing span will be replaced by an 80 metre vertical electronic span. “Besides, eliminating the risk of accidents, the new system will also reduce the huge maintenance works. The speed of trains can also be increased from 15 kmph to 30 kmph,” the official explained.
It is learnt that the Railways is also planning to set up a museum at Mandapam or nearby station, where the old Scherzer’s spans are to be shifted.Railway officials pointed out that the Pamban bridge is located at the world’s second most corrosive environment and also the region is cyclone prone. “Replacing span would be a huge task. It may take a little longer time,” the official said.