Andheri bridge collapse: 500 staffers put Western Railways back on track in 7 hours
Employees work through heavy rains to repair damaged overhead wires and signalling equipment
Seven hours — that's the time Western Railway (WR) wrapped up everything that needed to be done to get its services back on track after the bridge collapse, despite 1,000 cubic metres of debris damaging overhead wires, mast and poles, and signalling equipment.
Restoration in rain
WR Chief Public Relations Officer Ravinder Bhakar said, "The first alert came from the ground around 7.30 am... with the first witnesses being pointsman Ganesh Wadke and motorman Chandrashekar Sawant. Wadke relayed the information to Andheri Control Tower and the platform stationmaster. They informed divisional control and got the power in the overhead wires switched off."
An Accident Relief Train and an Accident Relief Medical Equipment Van reached the site, as did the fire brigade and the NDRF. The Harbour line tracks were cleared first, as the amount of debris there was less. Then, the stranded rakes were pulled back to make way for overhead tower wagons from both sides for quick restoration.
On a war footing
Around 500 employees were pressed into action to clear the debris and reinstall the overhead equipment. Cranes were deployed to lift the slabs from the track, while three excavators and one hydra-crane were brought in to scavenge and lift the debris.
Thirteen tower wagons were deployed for the repairs of OHE mast and wires. The bent portal was straightened using portable hoists and supporting angles, 100 metres of damaged wires was replaced, and eight cantilever arrangements with end fitting were provided for restoration of OHE. The damage to signaling equipment was assessed and two location boxes were replaced, while signaling cables were repaired.
The Harbour line was cleared at 1.55 pm and the first train ran at 2.15 pm. Churchgate-bound fast line was restored around 7.10 pm and Virar-bound fast line at 7.52 pm. The first train for Virar departed at 8.10 pm from Churchgate. The Down slow line was restored around 10.30 pm and the Up slow line at 1.05 am.
Bridge closed off
While the railways and BMC are yet to finalise a date for the joint audit of Gokhale bridge, it will remain shut till then. A joint safety audit of all other railway bridges will also begin soon. "Shutting down the bridge is killing Andheri traffic; the authorities better decide fast on how soon can they open up," said activist Jitendra Gupta. Officials said Andheri station, which earns a revenue of Rs 2 crore daily, earned R95 lakh on accident day. The railways has refunded R40 lakh on reserved tickets and Rs 19,000 on unreserved ones due to cancellations on Tuesday.
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