SLICE of Mumbai history was erased between Saturday night and Sunday evening as the British-era Hancock bridge, located between Sandhurst road and Byculla railway stations, was brought down by as many as 650 people with the help of four cranes and gas cutters in 18 hours. The dismantling of the 135-year-old bridge was necessitated because trains could not run at high speed due to its low height. The ensuing 18-hour-long mega block brought its share of inconveniences as several commuters were confused about its location and duration, and used technology to help each other out.
Central Railway Chief Public Relations Officer (PRO) Narendra Patil said the work on the bridge began around 12.15 am Sunday and ended late evening with the first train passing the site at 7.24 pm. Earlier in the day, around 5 pm, Patil had said, “The work schedule is going as per the plan. We are hoping that trains will start plying till CST from around 6.30 pm. Long-distance trains may need more time,” Patil told The Indian Express.
In light of this exercise, the railways had imposed a ‘mega block’ from 12.10 am to 6.30 pm and had cancelled several local and long distance trains.
The railways had also announced a mega block, that lasted for fewer hours, on the western railways for the maintenance work of tracks
The bridge, which had been closed since November, was broken down into various slabs with the help of gas cutters. These slabs were tied to the crane that would lift the dismantled slabs and keep it in a nearby truck. It took at least four hours to remove two such slabs, an onlooker said. The bridge was broken down into at least eight blocks, said an official.
The railways had also been in communication with MTNL as telephone lines laid down on the bridge had to be cut off. “One of the main problems for us was a huge BMC water pipe that was present on the bridge. While the water supply had been stopped, the sheer weight of the pipe made us tread cautiously,” said Patil.
Around 11.30 pm Saturday, platforms at the Central Railway stations were crowded with the last train being advanced.
“While the Railways have said the last train will leave from CST at 12.10 am, I don’t want to take a chance,” said Vijay Iyer, 33, while boarding the 11.53 pm Kasara local from Dadar railway station.