Connecting regions, and hearts

| | in Oped

India Railways has been working hard to connect various parts of the country with one another, and also one region of State to another of the same State. The work undertaken to connect south and north Bihar is a good instance

Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, the two most populous  States in India, are blessed with a number of rivers — Yamuna, Ghaghara, Gandak, Kosi and, of course,    Ganga. River-crossings in olden days was by boats, then came steamers followed  by  motorised boats which, in due course, were abandoned whenever a road bridge came to be built at that location —— invariably at the narrowest portion of the river.

In addition, a number of rail bridges had been built by the erstwhile East Indian Railway, and Oudh Tirhut Railway to cross these rivers — a few of the most important  being at Kanpur and  Allahabad on the Ganga. To these were added a two kilometre-long rail bridge built at Mokamah, Bihar, in 1959 and a 4.56km long rail-cum-road bridge between Digha and Sonpur in 2015, connecting rail alignments in north and south Bihar.

Now another 1.2km-long rail-cum-road bridge  is proposed to be built connecting Dildarnagar-Tarighat branch line off the Mughalsarai-Patna main line and  Ghazipur  ity on the Varanasi-Guwahati main line, which will ultimately connect Mau on the Varanasi to Deora mainline. The road bridge will give a major boost to road traffic in Bihar, by connecting NH97 to NH 27 and NH 19!

Though the project was to be executed by the North Eastern Railway, as usual RVNL (Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd), with its excellent track record, was  tasked in October 2015 with the mammoth  job of building the Rs 1,765.92 crore bridge. Fifty per cent cost of the bridge and 100 per cent for the approach roads is to be borne by the the Ministry of Roads Transport and Highways (MoRTH), in a cost-sharing deal, which as been lately the norm for all such developmental works being executed  by Indian Railways for various States. 

The double line rail, and a four-lane road bridge will be in addition to an old road bridge already existing at about 45 metres downstream. With a connecting 51km-long track it will provide through rail traffic  from Mughalsarai-Patna main line to  Ghazipur city on the west and Ghazipur ghat on the east on the Varanasi-Guwahati mainline passing through Chapra. The take-off point on the Diladarnagar branch line will be 2.5km before the Tarighat station which has now become redundant. 

In order to make everything right from the initial stages,  RVNL constituted a Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) of experts in various fields of bridge construction to finalise the bridge location and technical parameters of sub-structure and super-structure. The TAC came up with three separate alignments in a short period of three months.   

Design of the substructure as well as superstructure of the bridge was  completed and submitted to the RDSO (Research  Design and Standardisation Organisation), Lucknow, and the NER (North-Eastern Railway) headquartered at Gorakhpur, and detailed discussions held after completing the final location survey of the rail and road alignments with adjoining highways.

Design discharge and hydraulic data from the Central Water Commission (CWC) and data regarding GTS (Grade Trignometrical Survey) benchmarks were collected from the Survey of India. Geotechnical investigation work was done with three bore holes and Topographical survey work and connection of GTS Bench Marks are also done.

Apart from finalising the span arrangement, which  would consist of two of 43.50m and 11 of 85m each, GAD (General Arrangement Drawing) and Design Basis Report (DBR), location of the bridge has been finalised. A general consultant has been engaged  and discussions with the bridge experts of NER held.

The GAD has been also submitted to the Public Works Department (PWD) authorities for approval of navigational requirement and roadway alignment, while an approval of the Inland Waterways Authority of India has been received.

The FLS (Final Location Survey) for the approaches of the rail-cum-road bridge including the Y-connection on the north bank with Ghazipur city and Ghazipur Ghat stations have been completed and land acquisition papers sent to the NER for submission to revenue authorities. Work on rest of the project length is in hand and documents for land acquisition would be persued by the NER.

Open tender with single-stage two packet system for the civil construction works of the proposed rail-cum-road bridge was  invited in August 2016, for an estimated cost of Rs 446.60 crore. In a short span of just three months, pre-bid meeting were held, bids opened and the  work awarded to SP Singla. The foundation stone was laid by the Prime Minister in November and work commenced for completion in three years. This is a major step by Indian Railways towards improving connectivity between  north and south Bihar.

(The writer is former member, Railway Board)

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