Following the collapse of a part of Gokhale bridge in Andheri, Mumbai, a big decision has been taken by Indian Railways for the safety of infrastructure. Recently, the national transporter has decided to alter the material it uses to build bridges. The railways is looking at the option of using stainless steel while building both foot and road overbridges (FOBs and ROBs) in Mumbai, says a DNA report. Interestingly, if it this gets implemented, it will the first such move in India. The railways came up with this idea after they found that cables weighed over 500 kilogram plus paver blocks put extreme pressure on the footpath of Gokhale bridge which is made of mild steel, the report said.
The decision to alter the quality of bridges was taken by the railways over the last few days, following the bridge collapse incident in Andheri. According to senior railway officials, the Railway Board has asked Central Railways, Western Railways as well as rail planning agency of Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation to study and immediately begin work on first such bridge, the report stated. A senior railway official was quoted saying that with the correct composition of stainless steel used, the bridge will never corrode or rust. However, the only downside is the fact that it is very expensive, the official added.
Considering Mumbai’s climatic conditions, the average life of cantilever bridges made of mild steel bridges is around 40 years. If maintained properly, the life of a stainless steel bridge can go up to 200 years or more as claimed by the railways. However, the cost would be 20-25 times higher than that of regular mild steel. For the same, the railways is in touch with SAIL as well as other private steel manufacturers.
According to another railway official who was quoted in the report, since last year’s Elphinstone bridge stampede, new FOBs are being added. Also, the railways will include the stainless steel bridge in one of those pending ones, the official added. Currently, under the suburban networks of Western Railway, there are 114 FOBs and in Central Railway, there are 109 FOBs. Following the stampede, the Western Railway proposed 10 new FOBs while the Central Railway proposed 20 new FOBs, the report stated.