Completion Of India’s First Vertical-Lift Railway Sea Bridge At Rameswaram Faces Further Delays, Unlikely To Meet November Deadline


The new 2.05 km long Pamban railway bridge will be the country’s first vertical-lift railway sea bridge.

The primary challenge hampering progress is the heightened wind speed at the construction site in recent days, slowing down work significantly.

The completion of the new 2.05-kilometre-long Pamban railway sea bridge faces further delays, Indian Railways’ officials recently disclosed.

The new bridge will connect Mandapam town in mainland India to Pamban island and Rameswaram. It will replace the existing century-old iconic structure built during British rule.

This state-of-the-art bridge will be the country’s first vertical lift railway sea bridge. The construction of this critical infrastructure project commenced in 2019, but has encountered several setbacks.

Originally scheduled for completion in March of this year, the project’s deadline was extended to July, but it appears unlikely that the bridge will be ready by then. Railway authorities are now striving to conclude construction by November.

The primary challenge hampering progress is the heightened wind speed at the construction site in recent days, slowing down work significantly.

The bridge will be 63 metres long and will lift by remaining parallel to the deck, allowing ships to pass through. The bridge will allow trains to travel faster, carry more weight, and increase traffic volume between Pamban and Rameswaram.

The sea bridge is being executed by Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL) at a cost of Rs 535 crore.

The bridge is 12.5 metres above sea level. Two ships will ‌cross this bridge simultaneously, thanks to its planned automobile construction.

The vertical-lift bridge will be 3 metres higher than the existing bridge, with a navigational air clearance of 22 metres above sea level. It will be operated using an electro-mechanical control system interlocked with train control systems.

The new bridge will also feature several other innovative technologies, such as composite sleepers, stainless steel reinforcing, and long-lasting paintwork.

The Pamban railway sea bridge consists of 99 horizontal spans, each measuring 18.3 metres in length, along with a single span of 72.5 metres.

Of these, 73 spans have been installed, and tracks have been laid on them. The 72.5-metre span is a “lift span,” a movable section of the bridge designed to rise to allow ships to pass underneath.

Although this lift span has been assembled on-site, it still needs to be erected, along with the remaining 26 spans.

The construction site presents unique challenges due to its corrosive marine environment, vulnerability to cyclones, and high-wind conditions, reports The Hindu.

Despite these difficulties, this railway bridge holds great significance as it connects the mainland to Rameswaram, a historic South Indian town and one of the four Char Dham pilgrimage sites, along with Badrinath in the north, Dwarka in the west, and Puri in the east.

Historically, the railway line bifurcated after reaching Pamban Island, with one 10.06-kilometre line leading to Rameswaram and another 24-kilometre branch line terminating at Dhanushkodi.

Unfortunately, the Dhanushkodi line was destroyed by a cyclone in 1964, severing the railway connection to that part of the island.

The existing Pamban rail bridge, which connects Rameswaram to mainland India, is 105 years old. The original bridge was built in 1914 to connect Mandapam to the Rameswaram island situated in the Gulf of Mannar.