Madurai: Southern Railway Chief Safety Officer, John Thomas, said that a bridge parallel to the existing Pamban Bridge connecting Rameswaram Island and Pamban has been proposed at an estimated cost of Rs 800 crores recently.
Thomas said the bridge has been proposed as a safety measure. “The proposal is being considered by the Railways,” he stated.
Officials led by John Thomas inspected the maintenance work at the ageing Scherzer’s span which was raised to let ships pass beneath the bridge.
As part of the strengthening of the Pamban Bridge, Railways had decided to replace the manually operated 65.23-metre long old span with another suitable electronic span. The replacement will be executed by the Rail Vikas Nigam Limited at a cost of Rs 28.50 crores.
Thomas said that they are in discussion with officials from IIT Madras and the RVNL to design the electronic single span which will replace the present two leaf structure. The century-old Pamban bridge stands over the Palk Straits and is considered to be an engineering marvel. The 2.34-km bridge was made a broad-gauge line in 2007.
Thomas said the strength of the bridge was assessed and that all the 146 girders of bridges and concrete pillars were strong. “However, we are replacing the eroded girders with pre-stressed concrete pillars,” he said.
At present, around 10 to 15 cargo ships, coast guard ships, fishing vessels and oil tankers pass through the bridge every month.