A 273-year-old abandoned railway bridge over River Kabini in Karnataka the oldest railway bridge on the Indian Railways network will be restored to its old glory and transformed into a tourist destination,courtesy a first of its kind public-private partnership between the Indian Railways and the erstwhile Maharaja of Mysore.
South Western Railways will enter into an agreement with the erstwhile Maharaja Srikanta Datta Narsimharaja Wadiyar of Mysore to restore the 17th century rail bridge. The plan envisages the setting up of a restaurant on wheels,an ethnic food court,boat rides,a handicraft centre,an indoor game facility and a sound and light show.
The Railways,in association with the Confederation of Indian Industry,had invited Expressions of Interest (EoIs) from private players to restore the Kabini Bridge. While none of the private players responded,the erstwhile Maharaja of Mysore did. Now,he has appointed a consultant on his behalf to work out the details of the project with the zonal railways, a senior Rail Bhavan official said.
Located between Tandavpura and Nanjangud town stations on the Mysore-Chamarajnagar section,the Kabini Bridge is near the Mysore-Ooty highway and about a kilometre away from the upcoming Mysore airport. It was originally built as a road bridge and was later converted to a railway bridge. But over the years,the highway and the railway line went parallel and this bridge was eventually abandoned, the official said.
Once refurbished,the Railways plan to ply a meter gauge rail bus shuttle service between the nearby Sujataupuram station and the Mysore end of the bridge. Senior Railway officials said this was considered a pilot project for its Harnessing Heritage plan. The bigger idea is to get bridges,station buildings and important railway structures of heritage value restored through private partnership without the Railways having to make any financial investments. said an official.