168 years after its original construction by British rail engineers, one of the old remaining bridges of the India’s first railway line Great Indian Peninsula Railway (GIPR) on the Waldhuni river near Shahad station has been dismantled and replaced by a newer one in May 2021. The bridge ferries the main line trains over river Waldhuni to Kasara and beyond.
Archives state that the construction of the Kalyan Shahad to Vasind railway stretch begun in 1854 and the line was opened to public on October 1, 1855. In a newspaper notice dated 4 September 1855, the GIP Railway’s traffic manager W. Cooper proudly stated that passenger and goods trains will start plying on the line in a month from 1 October 1855 till further notice and the hours of departure of trains and rates of goods will be at a later stage.
“The old steel bridge between Kalyan and Shahad stations was built in 1854 and the railway line crosses Waldhuni river at this point. Due to industrial sewerage waste with very dirty & turbid water flowing with highly infected chemicals, the steel girders had been corroded badly and it was becoming unsafe for running rail traffic. Taking advantage of the lockdown, we moved steadily and replaced the entire bridge,” Central Railway’s chief public relations officer Shivaji Sutar said.
“In normal course of traffic, six blocks of four-hour duration each, totalling 24 hrs would have been required. But simultaneous blocks on both Up and DN line were taken and work of replacement of six girder was completed in 10 hours,” he added.
Sutar said officials are examining the old bridge for any possible plaques or markings which could be brought for display to the museum.
A senior official said that the bridge has now been replaced with Portland Slag Cement (PSC) slabs to avoid corrosion and keep traffic moving seamlessly against all odds. PSC is blended cement created with a combination of up to 45- 50% slag, 45% – 50% clinker, and 3-5% gypsum and is the most suitable cement for mass construction because of its low heat of hydration.
The stretch of lines in Mumbai are the country’s first railway lines opened in 1853 and upgrades along the line always throw up surprises and old relics.