Exactly two months after a part of the G K Gokhale bridge collapsed at Andheri railway station, almost 90 foot overbridges and 20 road overbridges on the Central Railway (CR) and Western Railway (WR) have been identified for repairs. Senior railway officials said periodic maintenance of the bridges will be carried out.
After two persons died in the Gokhale bridge collapse on July 3, Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal directed the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, to conduct a technical audit of bridges and submit a report within six months. While the IIT is yet to complete auditing the bridges, senior railway officials, who inspected all the bridges in their section by July-end, have prepared a report identifying those bridges that need urgent repairs.
“We have already started work on bridges that are in a critical condition. During the audit, if we have identified bridges whose stairs are missing or a part of which has been extremely corroded, we have started work on those. For the rest, we have suggested periodic maintenance — which means they will be allocated a fixed time for repair after funds are sanctioned,” a senior railway official said.
Both the railways and the municipal corporations of the region will together fund the repair work of these bridges. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is expected to fund up to Rs 9.47 crore for repairs to 15 foot overbridges, 14 road overbridges and two water pipeline bridges that are used by pedestrians and railway commuters on the WR.
The WR will require up to Rs 12.19 crore based on the inspection of 60 foot overbridges. The CR will repair over 30 foot overbridges, including ones at Kalyan, Vidyavihar and Thane stations. “We conduct the repairs on the bridges during night hours. Disrupting railway traffic in the day time is not feasible. We utilise the block period effectively for conducting repairs. We will be seeking technical expertise from IIT as well to carry out repairs,” a railway official said.
The WR increased up to 28 employees in their bridge department after they required more manpower to conduct inspection and repair of bridges. In the preliminary report submitted by the Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS), WR, for Gokhale bridge, using modern technology to inspect bridges was suggested. The railways are using tower wagons, which allows more staff to inspect bridges in lesser time.
Professor Pradipta Banerji from IIT-Bombay, who is inspecting the bridges, said they will be able to complete inspections by Dussehra. “We have inspected close to 35 road overbridges in the past 1.5 months. We are spending more time on those bridges that are old and need urgent repair. I have included two more members from IIT in my team to help me with inspections,” he said, adding that the final report would include only those bridges that need extensive repairs.
Banerji is also consulting for the railways on the demolition of the Delisle bridge at Lower Parel station, whose section over the railway tracks will be demolished in the coming three months.