Naval barge rams into 100-year-old bridge in TN

Naval barge rams into 100-year-old bridge in TN

The historic Pamban Rail Bridge was damaged on Sunday after a barge towing a naval ship rammed into one of its piers throwing train traffic out of gear.

The century-old bridge, India’s first cantilever bridge over sea in Palk straits, connects the mainland with the pilgrim-island of Rameshwaram.

The civil barge, towed by another vessel, was grounded on Saturday owing to strong winds. It later began to drift towards the cantilever bridge and smashed the historic structure on Sunday morning, official sources in Rameshwaram told Deccan Herald.  

The barge and its tow vessel, proceeding from Kolkata to Karwar (the barge was to be handed over to the Indian Navy at Karwar station) were anchored, north of the Pamban Rail Bridge on Friday and had been waiting for clearance from the Railways.

The 2.01 km long Pamban Rail link over the Bay of Bengal, considered an engineering marvel and opened for traffic in 1914 under the British Raj, predates the famous cantilever Howrah Bridge in Kolkata.

The two arms of the Pamban cantilever bridge lift up to allow passage of ships beneath it when not used for train services. Ships going from India’s eastern coast to the western coast and vice versa use this passage connecting Palk Bay with the Gulf of Mannar.

“A pier of the rail bridge has been dislocated and broken,” said A K Rastogi, Southern Railway’s Madurai Divisional Manager, who rushed to the spot with his team of engineers.

Repair in a week

A girder has also suffered damage and repair and restoration will take at least seven days, he said.

The accident led to the cancellation of the Rameshwaram-Bhubaneshwar Express and the Kanniyakumari-Rameshwaram Express trains, N Venugopal, senior Railways PRO at Madurai said. Several other long-distance express and local trains have been partially cancelled till the restoration of the BG track on the Pamban Rail Bridge, he said.

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