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Tuesday 15 September 2020

India's first vertical lift railway sea bridge is upcoming at Rameshwaram

Something new to look at, on your next trip to Rameshwaram

The work on India's first vertical lift railway sea bridge is ongoing at Rameshwaram. Here's how it may look once completed.

Old Pamban Bridge, Rameshwaram
Old Pamban Bridge. Photo by Ajay Kumar Pasupuleti on Unsplash

It will take time until tours and travels get back to normal as it was before, for various reasons due to the ongoing Covid situation. In these trying times, it's not yet conducive for travelling for leisure or for a pilgrimage; even though some who can afford to, are embarking on road trips.

Apart from those, the others who travel long distance these days, those who may also use public transport wherever available; are mostly those who have to, for their work. However, things are slowly getting better. Recently, since 12th September, the railways began running 86 more special trains across India to enhance the connectivity and for the convenience of passengers.

So, as we travel enthusiasts wait patiently, in the meantime, let's look at some things that are happening around which could be a new thing to look at during our next travel or tour to a destination. That brings us to this latest tweet on the upcoming new railway sea bridge to Rameshwaram on the Pamban island.

Recently, the Indian Railway Minister Shri. Piyush Goyal released an animation of the upcoming railway sea bridge at Rameshwaram in Tamil Nadu. He tweeted that the work on this sea bridge is at full swing. This 2 kilomtere long bridge will connect mainland India to the holy pilgrimage town of Rameswaram on Pamban island.

There's already a 100 year old railway bridge that connects the town of Mandapam in mainland India with Rameshwaram on Pamban Island, and it is well-known as the Pamban Bridge. Commissioned in 1914 during the colonial era, this bascule bridge, also called as a drawbridge, is a double-leafed bridge which opens up in the middle by swinging vertically by parting at midway, allowing boats to pass through. It was the longest sea bridge in India until the 2.3 kilometre Bandra-Worli sea link was constructed in the city of Mumbai in Maharashtra.[1].

The new upcoming sea bridge is coming up parallel to this old bridge, and it has a similar purpose of allowing boats to pass through. The difference here is that the section that allows boats to pass through will get fully lifted vertically, as seen in the animation video in the tweet. Apart from the railway bridge, there's also a road bridge at the location, which was completed in the year 1988.

The modern vertical lift bridges were first commissioned in the cities of Chicago and Duluth in Minnesota, in the USA. John Alexander Low Waddell is known as the father of the modern vertical lift bridge. Interestingly, around the time when the original Pamban bridge, a bascule drawbridge, was being planned by the British Raj (it's contruction began in 1911), meanwhile in the USA, in 1907, in Kansas City of Missouri, Waddell and John Lyle Harrington patented numerous improvements to the modern vertical lift bridge, and they went on to design more than 30 vertical lift bridges built between the years 1909 and 1917[2].

Coincidentally, today is Engineer's Day in India, to commemorate a great Indian engineer Sir Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya, who was born on this day in 15th of September, 1860. He was the Chief Engineer of the great Krishna Raja Sagara dam in near the city of Mysuru (then known in its anglicised name Mysore). He was also one of the Chief Engineers of the flood protection system for the city of Hyderabad. And today I found something to read about engineering topics about different types of bridges, the father of the vertical lift bridge, and some related things.

The location of the Pamban bridge is reported to be at the world's second highly corrosive environment, next to Miami, in USA. The place is also at a zone which is prone to cyclones[3]. Building a sturdy and durable sea bridge on this location is a tough task, and hats off to the engineers working on it, and also to those who were involved in the old bridge and its later repairs and upgradations.

Here's a map of the bridge and the surrounding areas.

The largest vertical lift bridge in the world currently is the Arthur Kill Vertical Lift Railroad Bridge on Staten Island, in New York, United States of America.[4]

The original Pamban Bridge has always been a tourist attraction in this region. And when things get back to normal, which we hope will happen sooner than speculated, the new sea bridge may be ready to welcome its new tourists, pilgrims, and travellers.

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