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Special Service

PRESS INFORMATION BUREAU

GOVERNMENT OF INDIA

MADURAI

Madurai Railway creates record in bridge works

Dr K Parameswaran*

The National Council for Science & Technology Communication (NCSTC) is mandated to communicate science & technology (S&T) to masses, stimulate scientific and technological temper and coordinate & orchestrate such efforts throughout the country

    

 A major bridge work was recently completed in Madurai Division near Tirunelveli, Tamil nadu, without much fanfare. Great care was taken to ensure that not many train services were affected. The transition from iron girders to concrete girders in phases, without disturbing the overhead electrical lines was not easy. But it was done successfully by the engineering team of Madurai Division over a period of several Sundays.

 

Madurai division of the Indian Railways, in Tamil nadu, has been credited with completing a major bridge work successfully by working only on Sundays. On no other working days was the regular train traffic affected for the purpose of competing the bridge work. Even on Sundays, except the passenger train services to and from Tiruchendur (a major pilgrimage centre in the area), not many train services were affected by this major engineering work.

 

Railway officials have clarified that the bridge work was successfully carried out after suspending train traffic on the line for six hours from 10.00 hrs to 16.00 hrs for seventeen Sundays from 22nd February 2015 to 14th June 2015. In a second phase train traffic was suspended only for two and half hours for four Sundays in July 2015. It is particularly notable that the entire work was carried out without affecting train traffic on weekdays and Saturdays. 

 

The main work involved successfully replacing age old steel girders with pre-stressed concrete girders on a major bridge between Tirunelveli and Nagercoil. The specialty of the bridge is that immediately after crossing it the line branches in two directions, one to Tiruchendur and the other to Nagercoil.

 

The history of this bridge – number four at Kokkarakulam near Tirunelveli - dates back to pre-independence era. It was  constructed as per metre gauge standards in 1922.

 

Many years after Independence, in 1978, a mixed gauge arrangement (both braoad and metre gauges) was introduced on the bridge to accommodate the Tirunelveli – Nagercoil broad gauge section. This was done by strengthening the piers with RCC (reinforced concrete cement) jacketing to support the mixed gauge standards.

 

Subsequently, in 2008, when the Tirunelveli – Tiruchendur broad gauge conversion was also completed, the bridge was converted to broad gauge standard.

 

This vital bridge was programmed for replacement of corroded steel girders into PSC (pre-stressed concrete) slab (25 tonne axle loading) due to its age, condition and loading standard. The estimated cost of construction was Rs.8.40 crores. The PSC Slabs of 14.4 metre spans, specifically designed to suit the existing piers, were designed by the team of railway engineers led by Shri M.Suyambulingam, Chief Bridge Engineer, Southern Railway, Chennai.

 

Madurai Division officials under Shri Sunil Kumar Garg, Divisional Railway Manager, then formulated the programme of bridge reconstruction from February to July 2015 by segregating the massive work into manageable parts that could be completed in 6 hour blocks on Sundays.

 

Subsequently, the engineering team led by Shri Samson Vijayakumar, the then Senior Divisional Engineer (South) along with Shri T.N.Uthamanathan, Assistant Divisional Engineer, Tirunelveli successfully launched the girders and competed the work from February to July 2015. The progress of the work was overseen by Shri Sunil Kumar Garg, Divisional Railway Manager, Shri RVB Babu, Additional Divisional Railway Manager, and Shri S.Kannan, Senior Divisional Engineer (Co-ordination) from time to time.

 

Now that the steel girders have been replaced with PSC girders, the speed restriction on the bridge will be relaxed in due course and trains can be run at a faster speed.  

 

Another positive effect of the replacement work is that the bridge has become a maintenance free structure. The earlier steel girders had to be painted and greased periodically.

The conversion to PSC girders has also resulted in preventing contamination of the ecologically significant Thamraparni River that is the life line of the Tirunelveli and Nagercoil districts of Tamilnadu. Rust from the steel girders used to fall into the Thamraparni River occasionally, as a result of corrosion. Such contamination has now been avoided with PSC girders. 

 

*Assistant Director, PIB,Madurai. (With inputs from Madurai Railway Division).

 
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