As Mumbai’s bridges crumble, Indian Railways plan another inspection

As Mumbai’s bridges crumble, Indian Railways plan another inspection

The detailed study of the foot over bridges carried out by the Indian Railways after the Elphinstone Road stampede seems nothing less than a farce. This is because of the fact that a new team will now be formed to inspect 445 bridges — both foot over and road over — in Mumbai and its metropolitan region. On July 3, the railways stated that the study carried out after the stampede was to see the holding capacity of these bridges, it had nothing to do with its health.

On Wednesday, members from Railway Board had a meeting with local rail authorities here on the same. Sources said that the discussion was mainly on the aspects that need to be inspected. The joint audit team would comprise of officials from Railways, civic authorities and IIT Bombay, to discuss how to go about determining the structural health of bridges.

“Age of the bridge doesn’t matter. We will inspect and jointly audit every bridge. For this a team too would be constituted comprising of different stakeholders,” said a senior railway official.

This team will now inspect 445 bridges in Mumbai suburban section that ends at Karjat/Kasara/Dahanu and Panvel. Senior railway officials said that the study done after Elphinstone Road stampede will be different than this one. It was namely to check the number of additional bridges needed at railway stations for benefit of commuters while the new one will be structural audit.

Rail passenger associations claim that the government is only forming committees. “These committees and teams should make the report public. People never know what happens to them,” said Subhash Gupta, president, Rail Yatri Sangh.

On July 3, the Parel-Elphinstone Road FOB was opened to the public. This 12- meter wide bridge was supposed to be inaugurated by the Rail Minister. It was built after the stampede in September last year. After the stampede, a multidisciplinary team was constituted that checked dos and don’ts at stations.

Proposals for additional FOBs at stations need for escalators, removal of food stalls from platforms, wider platforms, and elevated concourse was made for ease commuter flow. They also checked the peak hour crowding at every station plus entry/exit point.

In September last year, the Indian Railways had also taken out a list of bridges that are dangerous across the country. There are 275 such bridges that need to be repaired, of which 61 bridges are on Central Railway and 42 bridges on Western Railway.