The Indian Railways network has 1,50,390 bridges on its tracks. To facilitate the public to cross the tracks on roads, an additional 3449 number of Road Over Bridges (ROBs) have been provided. As on 1.04.2020, 3771 FOBs are provided by the national transporter for passenger/pedestrian crossing, according to the Railway Ministry. As per the laid down schedule, the national transporter follows a well-established system of annual inspection and maintenance of railway bridges/FOBs/ROBs by the designated officials of Indian Railways. In 2018, to have an independent expert view on the bridges’ condition, Indian Railways decided to carry out third-party audit of identified as well as critical bridges/ROBs/FOBs.
According to the Railway Ministry, the third-party audit of critical bridges/FOBs/ROBs is being done by expert agencies such as IITs, SERC, NITs, etc. The zones of Indian Railways were advised to conduct one-time third-party technical audit of the bridges duly checking all their aspects by engaging expert national or international agencies. The identified bridges’ third-party audit were undertaken as per the following priority:
- All mega bridges, Indian Railways’ bridges with ORN 1 ratings, FOBs as well as ROBs
- Indian Railways’ bridges with ORN 2 ratings as well as bridges with speed restrictions.
- All crucial bridges more than 80 years old
- Any other bridge which the national transporter considers critical from condition point of view
The key benefits of the third-party audit was realized in the Mumbai area where dilapidated conditions were noticed in as many as 49 ROBs. In 43 ROBs, essential repairs were done and six ROBs were closed, dismantled and their rebuilding is currently in progress. Simultaneously, 127 FOBs, dilapidated condition was noticed. In 95 FOBs, essential repairs were carried out and as any as 32 FOBs were closed and dismantled for replacement. The work of rebuilding has been completed in 20 FOBs, while 12 number of FOBs are in progress.
The ministry said that out of the total identified 1107 number of bridges/FOBs/ROBs, the third-party audit has been completed on 815 bridges/FOBs/ROBs and the remaining works are still in progress. In order to make the entire system transparent, Boards have been provided at all ROBs as well as FOBs. In respect of Indian Railways’ bridges, boards have been provided at the railway stations, at suitable locations on main platform.