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Pamban rail bridge to be opened once a month

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A month after resumption of passenger traffic on the 105-year-old Pamban Rail Bridge after setting right the cracks developed in some of the critical members of the Scherzer’s span, the Southern Railway has directed the Pamban port authorities to open the span for navigation of vessels only once in a month.

When a barge from Kattupalli port in north Chennai, proceeding to Mumbai reached the north side of the Pamban Bridge, a few days ago and sought permission to cross the bridge and when the Pamban port officer contacted the authorities, the Railways informed that the aged span could no longer be opened once a week for navigation of vessels in the Pamban Channel.

The barge and a cargo vessel, which came from Kolkotta, after waiting for more than four days, returned to take the circuitous route around Sri Lanka to reach their respective destinations, officials said. The Port officer said the span was last opened on March 21 and has remained closed since then.

He has to discuss with Railway officials and work out the schedule for opening the span once in a month, he said. Smaller fishing vessels manage to pass through the bridge but mechanised fishing boats, sailing from north to Gulf of Mannar in the south and vice versa would be facing problems, he said.

Rail traffic on the bridge remained suspended for 85 days after engineers found cracks in some members of the span. After completing the retrofit works, the Railways had opened the bridge for passenger traffic on February 27 after taking several precautionary measures.

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal during his recent visit to the district had said the Pamban Rail Bridge was in bad shape and accident could happen at any time. A new bridge, parallel to the existing bridge is coming up, he said adding it would be ready in two years. The Rail Vikas Nigam Limited has been entrusted with the task of building the new bridge with single lifting span.

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