Month after collapse, troublesome Konkan tunnel up and running

Updated: 17 September, 2020 07:46 IST | Rajendra B Aklekar | Mumbai

Rly officials had to be cautious amid constant rainfall, resulting in seepage during repairs

The Pernem tunnel had collapsed due to heavy rain on August 6
The Pernem tunnel had collapsed due to heavy rain on August 6

Over a month after a tunnel collapse, the Konkan Railway (KR) announced late on Tuesday that it has been fixed and services have been restored. The tunnel has been reinforced with steel plates and heavy webs. A five-meter portion of the tunnel wall in Pernem village, North Goa had collapsed due to heavy rains on August 6.

"The restoration work of Pernem tunnel at km 384/6-7 between Madure and Pernem stations of Karwar region has been successfully completed. The track fit certificate was issued at 10 pm on September 15 and traffic has been restored. Six trains which were either diverted via Madgaon- Londa-Miraj-Pune-Panvel or cancelled, have been restored to their original route," a senior official said.

The tunnel has been a challenge since the completion of its construction in January 1998.

Initially, it was expected that the line could be made operational by August 20, but it was later extended to September 10 and then 15.

Rain slowed repairs

"Heavy rain and the pandemic proved to be a challenge. It was highly difficult to mobilise resources as the task required skilled and unskilled manpower, material and heavy machinery like excavators, Hydras, concrete cutters, compressors, etc. in a short period. The rectification work had to be carried out in a very confined place within the limited tunnel width of around 5 metres in a slushy environment with continuous seepage at the collapsed location. There was frequent rainfall even after the collapse for about 15 days resulting in heavy seepage, which necessitated high caution working," Konkan Railway's Chief Public Relations Officer LK Verma said.

Verma said a different rectification methodology was adopted for the repairs. It involved cutting the collapsed concrete wall and the damaged formation below the track under slushy conditions/seepage followed by rebuilding it with new fabricated structural steel beams, providing lining with heavy steel plates and site welding.

Keeping COVID-19 at bay

"The bigger challenge was also to keep COVID-19 at bay. Screening/testing was done twice for the workforce and every day, thermal screening along with checking of oxygen levels was done. Foot-operated sanitisers, soaps and a KRCL doctor and health workers were made available."

Pernem received an average rainfall of 4,500 mm as on September 15 which is more than Goa's annual average of 2,900 mm.

Old-timers and KR records point to how Pernem tunnel has always been a problem. It delayed the entire KR project for five months. KR has 91 tunnels, collectively up to 84 km in length. However, tunnels totalling 3,500 metres in length on weak soil, mainly in Goa and Karnataka, posed the most problems during construction.

KR to go electric from Nov

Internal planning in the Konkan Railway is aiming at completing line electrification and charging of lines in a staggered manner, starting November. The process is expected to be completed by June 2021. The tentative timeline of charging includes the Roha-Ratnagiri section starting November, the Ratnagiri-Verna section between May and July, the Verna-Karwar section between March and April, and the Karwar-Bijoor section till Thokur by January 2021.

06
No. of trains that were diverted after the collapse

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First Published: 17 September, 2020 07:09 IST

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