A week after the historic Pamban Rail Bridge (PRB) over the sea, connecting the pilgrim-island of Rameshwaram with mainland India, was damaged when a barge rammed into it in the Palk straits, the Railways on Sunday resumed train services partially. They hope to restore full services from Jan 22.
This gingerly resumption of train services over the 2.3 km long, 100-years-old cantilever bridge was made possible after a big team of engineers and workers worked rigorously for the past week in the repair and restoration works at the site, official sources in Rameshwaram said on Sunday.
On Saturday, the damaged 121st pier of PRB was completely dismantled and a temporary pier using steel cribs was erected in its place, the sources said.
Earlier the railway engineers had, on either side of the damaged pier, erected two temporary piers to enable the removal of the twisted pier caused by the mishap.
The damaged pier’s structure was so strong, that the Railway engineers and workers found it a herculean task in breaking it down.
Eventually, they had to deploy an unconventional method of using controlled blasting with low-intensive gelatin sticks that caused some cracks in the structure. Then workmen pulled it down.
A K Rastogi, Southern Railway’s Madurai Divisional Manager, M Satish, Chief Engineer from Chennai, oversaw the restoration works.
A trial run by a lone Engine, followed by it pulling an empty rake with 22 coaches was done on the temporarily repaired PRB on Saturday, was successful and it cleared the decks for resuming normal train services from Sunday.
However, the Railways wished to take no chances and hence decided to start with a restricted trains flow over the PRB.