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 trains are passing through 252 dilapidated bridges in their usual speed,
posing a serious safety hazard.
The officials (chief bridge engineers) should specifically review the
position in respect of all bridges... 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 or
rehabilitation, ORN-2 are required to be rebuilt on a programmed basis while
ORN-3 bridges need 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," the board's order issued last month said.
The board has also found that in most cases, no speed restriction has been
imposed and special inspection schedule has also not been prescribed by the
chief bridge engineers.
The Railway Board said 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 that need rebuilding.
Pulling up the zonal railways for allegedly not following 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
The Controller and Auditor General of India had found in its report three
years ago 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.