By removing the 15 kmph speed restriction between CST and Byculla, CR will save up to 3 minutes per train thereby creating slots for new services
Sacrificing the 137-year-old Hancock Bridge was spelt good news for Mumbai commuters in more ways than one. To begin with, the perennial problem of waterlogging between Byculla and Sandhurst Road will cease from this rainy season, as tracks can now be raised. The Central Railway (CR) authorities will now also be able to increase speeds of local trains marginally, and it will help overall improvement on a much larger scale.
Two cranes of 300 tonnes each were involved in picking up the dismantled pieces of the steel and stone bridge, while two more were kept as stand-by. Pic/Datta Kumbhar
Once the track is raised, the work on new bridge, that would be at least 6 metres in height from the track level, will begin. The CR authorities also claim the dismantling of the bridge will result in improvement in speeds of local trains. “Now that the height restriction is not there, we will remove the speed restriction which was 15kmph. This will allow faster movement of trains between Byculla and CST,” said SK Sood, General Manager, Central Railway.
There were 650 workers and 50 engineers involved in the process. Pic/Bipin Kokate
The officials claim that speeds up to 90kmph can be easily achieved and this would mean saving of 2-3 minutes per train. Each hour, on an average around 20 train services operate on each line, depending on if it is peak or off-peak hour. The saving of time would help in adding train services too.
The Hancock Bridge had a height of around 4.27 metres from track level. An area just metres away from Sandhurst Road railway station gets affected during heavy rains every year. Now with the bridge gone, CR is sure there is a remedy. “We are now in a position to lift the tracks easily by six inches, which will bring respite to commuters during rains. There is another bridge adjacent to Hancock Bridge, which carries a pipeline and so we cannot raise it,” said a CR official. They also want to ensure that the track level doesn’t go up substantially, as they recently raised the height of the platform at Sandhurst Road station upto 900mm from the track.
Also there are curvatures towards the station that prevent them from raising the height of the track all through the route.
During monsoon, the railways curtails train services, or implements heavy speed restrictions, in case of heavy rains and waterlogging. They also place water pumps to drain out water.
In the coming months, the BMC and CR authorities will finalise the drawings and designs of the new bridge that will come up at the same spot. They will take on Carnac Bunder Bridge and Matunga foot over bridge as the next two bridges to go in the coming months. Both are very old and have been declared dangerous.
About the demolition
>> The CR began initial work of demolition over the last three days by scraping the road surface
>> More than 1,000 gas cylinders were used to cut this 288-metres long and 13.6-metres wide bridge into 60 pieces
>> First train started from CST: 7.13pm
>> Crossed Hancock Bridge spot: 7.18pm
>> Total cancellation: 150 train services
>> Trains to Byculla: every 15 minutes