Mumbai: Central Railway to install height barriers at King Circle Railway bridge
After two trucks get jammed under Kings Circle railway bridge last week, Central Railway finally decides to install height gauges there
Central Railway authorities jumped into action after a truck got jammed under the bridge on March 6 and held up peak morning traffic for hours. Pic/Atul Kamble
It took 17 accidents in four years for the Central Railway authorities to realise that while they can't raise the height of the Kings Circle railway bridge, they can at least raise their game. After two trailer trucks got jammed under the bridge in the past week alone, CR officials have finally decided to install new height barriers to keep heavy vehicles away from the low-clearance accident spot.
On March 1, a trailer got stuck under the bridge so badly that it had to be removed with a gas cutter. The bridge had ripped the truck apart, exposing the goods inside. On March 6, yet another trailer got wedged under the rail bridge at 5 am, halting peak morning traffic for several hours. Photos of the crumpled container went viral on social media and WhatsApp, mounting pressure on the authorities to do something.
No room for apathy
The bridge's height from the ground is not constant across the four lanes underneath, as some of the road surface is raised due to the presence of underground pipelines. The bridge's maximum height is a safe 4.9 metres, while at its shortest, it is 4.38 metres from the ground (on the south-bound arm on Dr BA Road).
The height gauge will be moved 100 metres further away from the railway bridge, so truckers will have a chance to change their route. Pic/Sammer Markande
There is already a height gauge at the Sion Hospital flyover that leads to the accident spot, but it is placed so close to the bridge that truck drivers don't get a chance to change direction. Often, they end up ramming into the overpass at full speed. To make matters worse, the authorities often don't even bother to replace the bar on top of the height barriers when it is knocked down by passing trucks. As a result, the truckers who pass through the stretch subsequently don't even realise that their vehicle might be above the height limit.
Traffic cops vs railways
For years, the traffic police and the railways ducked out of any responsibility for the bridge, but motorists could hardly do the same. As per the statistics available with the traffic department, there have been an average of five accidents at the same spot every year since 2015.
Traffic officers alleged that they did their bit by informing Central Railway (CR) every time there was an accident or the height bar had been knocked down, but the railway officials never took any concrete measures to resolve the issue. "Whenever an accident occurs, we write to railway officials, urging them for a permanent solution. Last week's accident was a massive one, and fearing for the safety of the bridge, the railways have now initiated the process to place a height gauge, said Dr Saurabh Tripathi, DCP (Suburb-Traffic).
After the two back-to-back accidents last week, CR officials have decided to remove the existing height gauge and place a new one further away from the accident spot. This will ensure that heavy vehicles have enough opportunity to change to a lane where the bridge has higher clearance. "We are working in co-ordination with the traffic police and have begun the process of installing additional height gauges at the start of the flyover on the north and south ends for double protection," said Sunil Udasi, chief public relations officer for Central Railway.
A traffic cop added, "Thankfully the railway bridge is standing strong, but due to constant banging of such heavy vehicles, the structure could weaken some day, posing serious threat to the local trains passing overhead and to the motorists below. A height gauge is the need of the hour."
Number of accidents at the spot in 2018 so far
Number of accidents at the spot in 2017
Number of accidents at the spot in 2016
Number of accidents at the spot in 2015