Railways shelve off replacement of Scherzer’s span on Pamban Rail bridge, instead build a new bridge parallely

RAMESHWARAM/CHENNAI: The railways has decided to shelve replacement of the Scherzer’s span on the Pamban rail bridge — connecting Rameswaram island with the mainland — and instead build a new bridge parallel to the existing one.

Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL), a public sector undertaking under Ministry of Railways has called for tenders for construction of the new bridge in two phases. The first phase from Pamban side up to Scherzer’s span will be undertaken later this year at an estimated cost of ₹80 crore, official sources said.

RVNL had called for tenders for construction of a new movable vertical lift steel span, including the substructure, in lieu of the existing Scherzer’s rolling lift span, at a cost of ₹45.49 crore, but shelved the project after closing the tender on August 30, the sources said.

In 2016, the Ministry of Railways sanctioned ₹25 crore for replacement of the 65.23-metre manually operated Scherzer’s span with an electrically operated single truss span. However, work could not begin immediately due to various reasons. Finally, when it became clear that traffic would have to be suspended for at least 12 months during execution, the Ministry, unwilling to disrupt train services to the pilgrim island for such a long period, decided to go for a new bridge.

RVNL is likely to complete the tender process in the first week of October. The new bridge will come up 22 metres to the north of the existing one. Firms with expertise in building vertical spans have been asked to take part in the tender. Owing to the corrosive environment, RVNL will opt for pre-stressed concrete spans for the new bridge, the sources said.