The Pamban Rail Bridge – 2nd Most Extreme Railway Line in the World
World’s Most Extreme Railways by National Geographic Channel rates the Pamban Railway Bridge as the 2nd Most Extreme Railway Line in the World.
The Pamban Bridge is a railway bridge on the Palk Strait which connects the town of Rameswaram on Pamban Island to mainland India. The bridge refers to both the road bridge and the cantilever railway bridge, though primarily it means the latter. Opened 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.
The railway bridge is 6,776 ft (2,065 m) long. It was opened on 24 February 1914, construction having begun in 1911. However plans for a bridge had been suggested from as early as 1870 as the British Administration sought ways to increase trade with Ceylon, now known as Srilanka. The bridge has a still-functioning double-leaf bascule section that can be raised to let ships pass.
The railway bridge historically carried metre gauge trains, but Indian Railways upgraded the bridge to carry broad gauge trains as part of Project Unigauge, work that was completed on 12 August 2007] Until recently, the two leaves of the bridge were opened manually using levers by workers. Around 10 ships — cargo carriers, coast guard ships, fishing vessels and oil tankers — pass through the bridge every month. More work was carried out on the bridge in 2009 to strengthen it to enable it to carry goods trains.