MUMBAI: A week after the partial collapse of Andheri Gokhale bridge that killed a woman, the Indian Railways has taken a major decision to alter the quality of bridges. They are looking at going for stainless steel while building both road and foot overbridges in Mumbai – if implemented, it will be first such move in India.
This is being done after the railways found that cables weighed over 500 kg plus paver blocks put extreme pressure on the footpath of Gokhale bridge which is made of mild steel.
This decision was taken over the last few days after senior railway officials from the Railway Board and Union Railway minister Piyush Goyal visited the site of the collapse. Senior railway officials said that the Railway Board has asked both the Western, Central Railways and rail planning agency of Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation to study it and immediately begin work on first such bridge.
“With the correct composition of stainless steel used, it will never corrode or rust. The only downside is the cost which will make it very expensive,” said a senior railway official.
The average life of cantilever bridges made of mild steel bridges is around 40 years, under Mumbai’s climatic conditions. The British-built bridges made of black rock have lasted for nearly 130 years. However, the life of a stainless steel bridge as claimed by the railways can go up to 200 years or more if properly maintained. The cost, however, could be 20-25 times higher than the regular mild steel.
The Indian Railways is already in touch with government companies like SAIL and other private steel manufacturers for the same. In fact, the authorities are already chalking out plans to construct the first such across India or even world. It is most likely that they will first build a foot over bridge with stainless steel.
“Since the Elphinstone bridge stampede occurred last year, we are adding new FOBs. We will include the stainless steel bridge in one of those pending ones,” said another railway official. At present, there are 114 FOBs on WR and 109 FOBs on CR on its suburban system. After the stampede, the WR proposed 10 new FOBs, while 20 new FOBs on CR.