Pamban Bridge is a Railway Track Bridge connect an Island called Pamban Island to the town of Rameswaram in Tamil Naidu. This Track Bridge was started on 24 February 1914, it was India’s first sea bridge, and was the longest sea bridge in India until the opening of the Bandra-Worli Sea Link in 2010. The rail bridge is, for the most part, a conventional bridge resting on concrete piers, but has a double-leaf bascule section midway, which can be raised to let ships and barges pass through. Till 1988, the Pamban bridge was the only surface transport that connected Tamil Nadu’s island of Rameswaram to the mainland.
In 1988, a road bridge was also constructed parallel to the rail bridge for vehicles like Cars and Bikes, etc. This Railway Track bridge is also known as Annai Indira Gandhi Road Bridge. The Pamban Road Bridge connects the National Highway (NH 49) with the Rameswaram island. This Bridge was inaugurated by former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on October 2, 1988. This 2.345 km long Bridge took close to 14 years to be completed.
Design and Architecture
The bridge spans a 2 km between the Indian mainland or Indian Sea Shore and that of Pamban Island. The mainland end of the bridge is located at 9°16′56.70″N 79°11′20.12″E. The bridge is located in the world’s second most corrosive environment after Florida, making its maintenance a challenging job. The location is also a cyclone-prone high wind velocity zone.
It is located 12.5 metres (41 ft) above sea level and is 6,776 ft (2,065 m) long. The bridge consists of 143 piers and has a double-leaf bascule section with a Scherzer rolling type lift span that can be raised to let ships pass. Each half of the lifting span weighs 415 tonnes (457 tons). The two leaves of the bridge are opened manually using levers. The India’s most dangerous bridge.
Accident Occurred and Lives Lost
This bridge was damaged during the 1964 Rameswaram cyclone and required repair work. Strengthening work was carried out on the bridge under the supervision of E. Sreedharan in 2009 to enable it to carry goods trains. On 13 January 2013, the bridge required repair work to the piers after suffering minor damage from a naval barge. In 2016, the Ministry of Railways sanctioned ₹25 crore (US$3.9 million) to replace the existing 65.23 metres (214.0 ft) long rolling type span with a 66 metres (217 ft) long single truss span which could be opened automatically.
On 23 December 1964, an estimated 7.6 m (25 ft) storm surge struck the island, overturning the Pamban-Dhanuskodi passenger train killing all 150 passengers on board. On 13 January 2013, the bridge suffered minor damage when a naval barge drifted into it.