Historic Pamban bridge turns 100 today

Historic Pamban bridge turns 100 today

The historic Pamban Railway Bridge, India’s first cantilever bridge, that connects Rameshwaram island in Tamil Nadu to mainland India turns 100 on Monday.

The 143 piers, 2.06 km engineering marvel was the country’s longest bridge until 2010 when the 2.3-km Bandra-Worli sea link in Mumbai was thrown open for traffic.

Vying for a spot in UNESCO’s world heritage list, the bridge is listed in the “10 Most Dangerous Railroads” and “10 Most Amazing Train Routes” of the world. Located in a highly corrosive environment, the bridge was constructed by more than 600 workers between August 1910 and December 1913.

“Workers from the Kutch region of Gujarat, who had experience in working with the Himalayan Railways were brought to Pamban for excavation and erection work, while the bridge structures and equipment were brought from England,” a senior official with the Southern Railway said. The official said the bridge rests on an artificial sandstone reef. “More than 5,000 tonnes of cement, 18,000 cft of crushed metal stone and over 2,500 tonnes of steel were used. The bridge was constructed in such a way that the middle portion could open up like a pair of scissors to allow vessels to pass under the bridge,” the official added. The 65.23-metre-long rolling central lift span was named after Scherzer, a German engineer who designed and built the span.

The famous Boat Mail ran on this track between 1915 and 1964 from Madras-Egmore up to Dhanushkodi, where passengers were ferried to Talaimannar in Ceylon.

According to railway sources, on an average, 10 to 15 boats and small ships pass beneath the bridge every month.

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