Line was shut for a week after a barge crashed into the Pamban bridge

: Train services on the Mandapam-Rameswaram sector, which remained shut for traffic for a week after a barge crashed into the Pamban rail bridge, is all set to resume on Sunday, with the Railways successfully completing the trial run on Saturday.

Train services remained suspended on the sector since January 13, when a barge, being towed by a tug boat, crashed into the bridge after anchor failure, damaging the 121st pier and disturbing the alignments.

The Railway engineers commenced the repair and restoration work on the same day and completed in a week, clearing the decks for resumption of train services.

“The trial run of a light engine and an empty train with 22 coaches, with a restricted speed of 15 km was smooth and successful and we will resume normal train services from Sunday,” A.K.Rastogi, Divisional Railway Manager (DRM-Madurai Division), told reporters after visiting the bridge.

Before the trial run, Principal Chief Engineer, Southern Railway, M.Sathish, who arrived here from Chennai, supervised the repair and restoration work at the bridge and the movement of engine and empty train.

Green signal

The Mandapam Station Master gave the green signal for the trial run after the Permanent Way Inspector (PWI) and Bridge Inspector handed over to him the track fitness certificate, sources said.

The Railway Engineers and about 50-odd workers, who had been straining their nerves for the past one week, heaved a sigh of relief as the empty engine from Mandapam and an empty train from Rameswaram successfully cleared the 2.3-km-long bridge, connecting the mainland with Rameswaram island.

Permanent pier

Mr Rastogi said the Railways would go ahead with the construction of permanent pier even while maintaining normal train services in the sector and complete the work in a month.

He said the Railways had completed the restoration work at the earliest, keeping in mind the interest of passengers, especially elderly people from northern states, visiting the pilgrim centre of Rameswaram.

“Ever since the train services were suspended on Sunday, I have been getting 100 phone calls a day asking about resumption of train services,” he said.

Six pairs of trains, including two express trains from Chennai, three passenger trains from Madurai and one passenger train from Tiruchi were operated up to Rameswaram on daily basis, he said. Besides this, five pairs of trains were operated on week days, he added.

Bridge Operator Victor Vincent Raj (54) and Nainar Mohammed (57) were given cash awards and certificates for alerting the higher authorities and stopping train services immediately after the barge dashed against the pier, the sources added.