Pamban Bridge is a popular railway bridge located on the Palk Strait connecting Rameshwaram on Pamban Island to mainland India. Pamban bridge refers to road as well as the railway bridge. Though the cantilever railway bridge is more popular attraction for tourists.
Pamban Bridge was India’s first sea bridge and was opened for public on 24th February 1914. It was known to be the longest sea bridge in India for 96 years until Bandra-Worli Sea link(In Mumbai) opened for public in 2010. The railway bridge is a usual cantilever bridge built on concrete piers, however it has a double leaf bascule section in the midway. This section of the Pamban bridge can be raised to let the ships and barges to pass through it.
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The construction of the Cantilever railway bridge started in 1911 and got completed in early 1914. The bridge opened for public on 24 February 1914 and is 6776 feet(2065 m) long.
It is said that the planning of the bridge was under review from 1870 as Britishers wanted to increase trade to Ceylon. Pamban Bridge still has the incredible double leaf bascule section which is raised to let the ships pass. The road bridge became functional from 1988.
In old times the railway bridge usually carried narrow gauge trains on it. However, later on 12 August 2007 the bridge was upgraded to carry broad gauge trains as well.
This cantilever railway bridge has 2 leaves which were manually opened by using levers by workers. This bridge lets 10 ships pass through it every month. These ships are usually cargo carriers, coast guard ships, fishing vessels and oil tankers. In 2009, there was a lot more work carried out on this bridge to give it more strength. After this work, this bridge was also able to carry goods trains over it.
Once the bridge was fully complete, the narrow gauge lines were laid from Mandapam up to Pamban station. From Pamban Station, 2 lines were there. One railway line went towards Rameshwaram which is located at about 6.25 miles (10.06 km) and another railway line located at a distance of 15 miles (24 km) ending at Dhanushkodi. After the completion of both the lines, this railway section was open to public in 1914.
In between 1915 and 1964, a train named Boat Mail ran on this track. This train originated Madras-Egmore upto Dhanushkodi. From Dhanushkodi, the passengers used to take a ferry to Talaimannar in Ceylon. In 1964 Dhanushkodi was hit by a cyclone due to which the narrow gauge line from Pamban to Dhanushkodi was destroyed and thus got abandoned.
Surprisingly, this bridge again became operational under Elattuvalapil Sreedharan in just 46 days. Later, a naval barge drifted into the bridge on 13 January 2013 due to which there was a minor damage in it. This damage caused the part of the bridge to tilt slightly requiring some repair work.
Pamban Bridge stretches for 2 km between mainland and island and is the only link of transport between the two. This bridge repesents amazing work of engineering, is over 100 year old and still in the same condition as it was built. Rameshwaram is a popular Hindu shrine which notices thousands of footsteps every day.
This bridge is said to be located in the second most corrosive environment of the world after Florida. Thus, the construction work of the bridge was quite challenging for the engineers and workers. This place is also a cyclone-prone high wind velocity zone. This bridge has 143 piers and a Scherzer rolling type lift span at the centre. Every half of the lifting span weighs 415 tonnes.
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