Rail Bridges; Hanging on the Edges

    S. K. Khanna
    Railway's history is abound with stories of old bridges to have collapsed under the weight of moving trains, but this is the first time that a bridge has fallen on a train. Recently, a freak accident snuffed out 40 lives when a 150-years old overbridge, being dismantled, came tumbling down on a train near Bhagalpur in Bihar. It saddened as well as amused many as they had heard of bridges collapsing due to the weight of trains, but a bridge falling on a train, killing and trapping dozens of passengers under an avalanche of brick and cement, amused every one!

    The freak accident occurred on the morning of December 1, 2006, when the third pillar and arch of the bridge, known as Ulta Pul, collapsed on the sleeper coach, reportedly because of the vibration caused by the running train. The impact drove the coach into the ground. The accident, the first in the history of Railways indeed calls for extensive repair and rehabilitation of Railways big inventory of old bridges.

    rail bridges

    According to sources, the bridge was being dismantled by night, had been closed to traffic since 2002. A new bridge was thrown open in July this year, but the Railway began demolishing the old bridge only late last month. The Railways has been ignoring many wake–up calls when chunks of the bridge fell first on the track and then on a moving trains, earlier. It proved to be the third time as the remaining portion of the bridge collapsed and fell on the train on December 1, 2006 as if the bridge was waiting to fall down at any moment. Trains were allowed to ply beneath the bridge ignoring all railway safety norms.

    NBM&CW January 2007

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