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Bridge on the Godavari gets maintenance overhaul

The South Central Railway (SCR) has completed comprehensive track maintenance work on the iconic second rail-cum-road bridge across the Godavari, near Rajahmundry, in one of the biggest rail maintenance operations of the Indian Railways during the COVID-19 lockdown.

The 36-hour track maintenance work on the bridge was undertaken after 43 years from the time the bridge was commissioned in 1977.

The work had been pending as the bridge is critical to the south-east rail link, bridging the two sides of the mighty Godavari river on the Vijayawada-Visakhapatnam railway section, said General Manager Gajanan Mallya on Friday.

Mega track renewal maintenance work on the three kilometre long bridge involved laying of track on the six spans with PSC deck slabs, removing the old ones with fresh set of pre-fit lengths of rail track along with sleepers.

Slabs were also checked for cracks. The fully automated and mechanised process required minimal physical labour and was carried out by using the modern PQRS (Plasser Quick Relating System) cranes.

Deep screening of the track length for comprehensive cleaning of the ballast stones beneath the track to segregate accumulated wastes such as mud, broken pieces of stones etc., was taken up for the first time. All six spans of deck slabs (beam like support between two piers on either side) are on a sensitive six degree curve, making it tough to handle maintenance tasks within limited time. Another obstacle was to provide for auxiliary track (temporarily laid supplementary track) to enable movement of PQRS cranes for undertaking the work. A separate iron plate type platform to store the 8,000 ballast bags was installed to fill the underbelly of the track and sleeper. Physical checks and deep screening of the 180 metre length of approach to the bridge was also done.

The General Manager complimented DRM (Vijaywada) P. Srinivas and his team for executing the important maintenance work with precision, said Chief PRO Ch. Rakesh.

The rail-cum-road bridge with 34 spans (28 spans with steel girder and six spans with PSC deck slabs) is the third longest rail-cum-erad structure in India, next only to the Digha-Sonpur bridge across the Ganges near Patna and Bogibeel Bridge across the Brahmaputra in Assam.

Built by Braithwaite, Burn & Jessop Construction Company, it streamlined train movement on the vital Chennai-Vijayawada-Visakhapatnam-Howrah sector, earlier catered by the first Godavari bridge, more popularly known as the Sir Havelock Bridge, now a heritage structure.

Another bridge which added to the chain later, is the pre-stressed concrete Bow String Arch shaped third bridge across the Godavari at Rajahmundry, which is considered a marvel of engineering.

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