The Railway Board has ordered a review of all rail bridges in the country that need repair after it was found that out of the 275 such bridges only 23 had speed restrictions on them. The board had earlier sought details of the condition of bridges and found that the trains would pass on the 252 dilapidated bridges at its usual speed posing a safety hazard. “CBEs (chief bridge engineers) should specifically review the position in respect of all bridges assigned with ORN-1 and ORN-2 rating in their respective railways and firm up the action plan for their rehabilitation on priority,” the board’s order said. The railways has three ratings for its bridges – overall rating number (ORN), 1, 2, and 3 — bridges with ORN-1 rating require immediate building/rehabilitation, ORN-2 ratings are required to be rebuilt on the programmed basis while ORN-3 bridges require special repairs. “It seems that proper time bound planning has not been done by the Railways for rehabilitation of these bridges which creates a doubt whether correct condition rating appropriate to the actual condition of the bridge has been assigned or not,” said the last month’s order from the board. “It is also felt that there has been a lack of due diligence at Division/Headquarter level while revising/ conforming the rating given by ADEN (Assistant Divisional Engineer ),” it said.
The board also said that it has observed that in most cases, no speed restriction has been imposed and special inspection schedule has also not been prescribed by the chief bridge engineers (CBE). The Railway Board had sought details of the bridges and it was observed that a large number of bridges needing rehabilitation existed on some zonal railways for long. The Central Railways has 61 such bridges, East Central Railways has 63, South Central Railways has 41 and Western Railways has 42 bridges pending rebuilding.
Pulling up the zonal railways for failing to follow procedure, the board has said that there are many bridges where speed restrictions have been imposed on condition basis even when they have not been categorised under ORN-1 or ORN-2 categories. A 2015 CAG report had found that delays in sanctioning of bridgeworks and completion of sanctioned bridgeworks resulted in operation of train services with speed restriction resulting in extra operational costs.