Work on replacing British-era Rail Bridges on Salem Division put on fast-track

COIMBATORE: The Salem railway division has put on fast-track the work on replacing the nine 165-year-old British-era bridges with concrete ones to ensure the safety of the passengers. The maintenance work of these bridges was taken up after a delay of more than 14 years.

In the past nine months, the Salem railway division has re-constructed five bridges on Jolarpet-Coimbatore railway track. The work on the sixth one located on Somanur-Sulur track at Irugur-Tirupur section was taken up on Tuesday. The Rs.2 crore project will be completed by February 19.

“We will take up the work on the remaining three bridges on the same route in the coming months,” said Salem divisional railway manager Hari Shankar Verma.

“All the bridges are 165 years old. Caution order had been issued several years ago. The project to demolish the British-era bridges and replace them with the concrete ones was first sanctioned in 2003-2004. As the project didn’t take off, it was reallocated in 2008-2009. However, we are unaware why there was a delay. During an inspection, I was told about the need to reconstruct these bridges. We began the work after checking the files,” Hari Shankar Verma said.

Four such bridges on the Nilgiri Mountain Railway route, he said, would also be demolished and reconstructed. “We will ensure that all such pending projects that have been sanctioned will be taken up,” the officer added.

Due to the work on the bridge number 465 located between Somanur and Sulur, six trains were delayed and many had to be started from Tirupur instead of Coimbatore. The Coimbatore-Salem passenger train started from Vanjipalayam before Tirupur, instead of Coimbatore. The other trains that were delayed were Erode-Palakkad town passenger, Allepey-Dhanbad Tata Express, Salem-Coimbatore passenger and Bilaspur-Ernakulam Express.

On February 17 and 19, Salem-Coimbatore passenger will be delayed by 85 minutes, Allepy-Dhanbad/Tata Express will be delayed at Irugur by 70 minutes and Ernakulam-Coimbatore Express will be delayed by 10 minutes.

The railway department has already set up the first girder of the bridge. “The pre-cast girders will be set up and the tracks will be re-laid in this section,” said an official. The replacement of steel girders that were used to build the bridges by the British with concrete is supposed to be safer and more long-term solution because many steel girders have reportedly corroded over the years, officials added.

Inspection of newly-converted Sengottai-Aryankavu BG railway line

Commissioner of Railway Safety, Southern Circle, Bengaluru, had inspected the newly-converted broad gauge railway line in Sengottai-Aryankavu new block section in Sengottai- Kollam section on Wednesday. He also conducted a high speed trial run in Sengottai-Aryankavu new block section on Thursday between 9 a.m. and 12 noon. All users of railway lines between Sengottai-Aryankavu were cautioned not to approach/trespass the railway line during the speed tests.