Boost For Safety: Indian Railways Launches Massive Exercise For Third Party Audit Of Rail Bridges

Boost For Safety: Indian Railways Launches Massive Exercise For Third Party Audit Of Rail Bridges

by Arun Kumar Das - Friday, March 19, 2021 12:20 PM IST
Boost For Safety: Indian Railways Launches Massive Exercise For Third Party Audit Of Rail BridgesA rail over bridge.
  • The third party audit provides transparency in upkeep and maintenance of rail bridges, and will cover all mega structures.

With the aim of boosting safety, Indian Railways has undertaken a massive drive of third party audit of its bridges across the country.

The public transporter has a vast network of 150,390 bridges on its tracks in the country.

Besides, there are 3,449 rail over bridges (ROBs) have been provided to facilitate the public to cross the tracks on roads.

For passenger/pedestrian crossing, there are 3,771 foot over bridges (FOBs) being provided by the railways for convenience of public/rail users, as on 1 April 2020.

The third party audit provides transparency in upkeep and maintenance of bridges, ROBs and FOBs on the rail network.

According to the railways, out of total identified 1,107 bridges/ROBs/FOBs, third party audit of 815 bridges/ROBs/FOBs has been completed and balance works are in progress.

The railways follows a well established system of annual inspection and maintenance of railway bridges/ROBs/FOBs by the designated railway officials as per the schedule laid down.

In order to establish more confidence and reliability on the existing infrastructure, it was decided in 2018 to carry out third-party audit of identified and critical bridges/ROBs/FOBs to have an independent expert view on the condition of the bridge.

According to the railways, the objective of third party inspection by expert agencies was to have a bird’s eye view of condition of critical components which may have been adversely affected in corrosion prone areas.

Third party audit of critical bridges/ROBs/FOBs is being done by expert agencies like IITs, NITs, SERC etc.

Zonal railways were advised to carry out one-time third party technical audit of the bridges duly checking all aspects of the bridge (strength assessment including testing, design adequacy for present day loading, physical condition etc, as considered necessary) by engaging expert national/international agencies.

The third party audit is slated to cover all mega bridges, ROBs and FOBs including all important bridges more than 80 years old.

Any other bridge which the railways considers critical from condition point of view is also to be included for the third party audit.

Major benefits of third party audit was realised in Mumbai area where dilapidated conditions were noticed in 49 ROBs. Essential repairs were carried out in 43 ROBs and six ROBs were closed, dismantled and their rebuilding is under progress.

Simultaneously, dilapidated condition was noticed in 127 FOBs. Essential repairs were carried out in 95 FOBs and 32 FOBs were closed and dismantled for replacement. Rebuilding work has been completed in 20 FOBs and 12 FOBs are in progress.

In order to make the entire system transparent, boards have been provided at all ROBs and FOBs.

In respect of railway bridges, boards have been provided at the stations (for next block section in increasing kilometres) at suitable locations on main platform.

To further increase the transparency among users and to establish reliability of railway’s infrastructure, the photographs of boards at ROBs/FOBs and at stations have been uploaded on the web-based Indian Railways Bridge Management System (IRBMS) which is linked to rail drishti and the photographs of boards can be seen by any person through the site.

Arun Kumar Das is a senior journalist covering railways. He can be contacted at

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