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Why these Mumbai bridges are Central Railway's nightmare

Authorities at Central Railway have inspected four locations where the bridge is too low for the power conversion that is expected to be carried out before monsoons

The almost-century old bridges both foot and road are posing a challenge for the authorities at Central Railway (CR).

The Currey Road Bridge on the Central line connects N M Joshi Marg with Lalbaug. Pic/Datta Kumbhar
The Currey Road Bridge on the Central line connects N M Joshi Marg with Lalbaug. Pic/Datta Kumbhar

On March 25, they inspected four locations, Kasaiwada foot over bridge (FOB) at Kurla, Matunga station’s FOB, the road over bridge (ROB) at Currey Road and Hancock Bridge near Sandhurst Road, where either the height of bridge has to be raised or the tracks running below have to be lowered.

The reason for this inspection is due to the ongoing power upgradation of lines that feed the trains running on the Central line.

The upgradation, from 1,500-volt DC to 25,000-volt AC, will require a buffer space of at least 21 centimetres between the train’s roof and the base of bridges, according to Atul Rane, chief PRO, Central Railway.

High power decision
The power conversion also means that the flow of electricity in the running trains will be 17 times more potent, and even lethal for rooftop travellers.

While the overhead wires are currently able to go under the bridges, with the higher charge, officials have to ensure that there is more space between train rooftops and bases of bridges, even after double insulation.

Recently, during a high-level meeting of the railway board, members were given June as the deadline, before the monsoon begins, for completing the power upgradation work.

Options

Raise the height of bridges
It may sound like an easy task. However, ROBs and FOBs are made of stone. Any plans of raising the base would be nothing less than a Herculean task. Officials explained that they would have to use pneumatic jacks to lift them, and the work has to be conducted in a systematic manner. Not to mention, the movement on ROBs and FOBs will also be restricted.

Lower the tracks
An easier option wherein about half a kilometre on both sides of the bridge will be lowered to ensure that sufficient gap is maintained. The drawback in going for this option could be that during monsoon, the heavy rain could result in waterlogging of tracks. This is the main reason why officials are sceptical about choosing this option as monsoons could literally bring trains to a standstill.

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