Andheri Bridge collapse: Do not overload our ageing bridges, railways tells BMC

Updated: Jul 07, 2018, 15:24 IST | Rajendra B. Aklekar

Western Railway officials have written to the civic body, asking it to lay utility cables under the tracks wherever possible and not overload the ageing bridges

Andheri Bridge collapse: Do not overload our ageing bridges, railways tells BMC
The BMC had earlier denied that it had anything to do with the utility cables buried in the bridge

Upon discovering that at least 60 utility cables had been laid along the collapsed portion of the Andheri road overbridge (ROB), Western Railway authorities have written to the civic body on the matter. "The collective weight of so many utility cables may have contributed to the collapse of the bridge. We have written to the BMC to look into limiting the number of utility cables laid over such bridges," said Mukul Jain, divisional railway manager.

Many utility companies opt to lay wires along bridges, as this is easier and cheaper than putting them under the railway lines, which would require microtunelling. The utility companies pay a fee to the BMC for this arrangement, which is also less than the charge levied by the railways. "It is not that the railways do not allow utility cables to pass under the network, but besides levying fees, there are stringent norms and national rail standards for how this should be done," said DRM Jain.

Officials audit the Andheri ROB, which is set to reopen by today
Officials audit the Andheri ROB, which is set to reopen by today

Prima facie, it seems that the weight of over 60 utility cables may have added up the dead weight and led to the collapse of the pedestrian pathway along the corroded Andheri ROB. The bridge, built in 1978, was later expanded to include a pathway a year later. According to Jain, around a year ago, WR had conducted a survey to identify such cables that pass from once building terrace to another, crossing over railway tracks. The authorities found 45 such cables between Churchgate and Virar, and immediately disconnected them.

The other side
Despite repeated attempts to reach out to BMC officials for comment, they remained tight-lipped on the matter. However, earlier, chief engineer for bridges SO Kori had told mid-day, "Whenever utility agencies ask the BMC for permission to carry out any work at railway premises, we always direct them to the railways."

Approx number of utility cables on the pedestrian pathway of the Andheri ROB

Number of cable connections passing over tracks that WR cut

Also read: Andheri bridge collapse: BMC, Railways decide to 'sincerely' co-ordinate

ROB audit report
After the first joint visit to the collapse site yesterday, railway officials, the BMC team and IIT engineers listed out a few issues to be fixed on priority basis before re-opening the bridge:

> Remove all utility cables
> Remove all paver blocks
> Erect safety barricade below the bridge to protect railway equipment and trains

"The traffic police have been requesting the railways to open up the Andheri bridge. The north-bound wing may be opened to two-way traffic late on Friday or on Saturday," said DRM Mukul Jain.

Railway update
Railway officials said commuters will not face any problems in train services from Saturday, but the complete restoration of the system will take until July 13.

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