Jubilee Railway Bridge, Hooghley 1887, WB should be converted into a National Heritage Monument

 In India which has the 3rd or 4th largest railway network in the world,  there are thousands of railway bridges older than 100 years and are still operational. The Central government in  association with various railway divisions are replacing them with modern technology to withstand the loads, frequency of trains and the  speed. There are innumerable old iron bridges that came up during the colonial period and at that point of time were built with amazing techniques with meticulous care. Heritage lovers and historians want them preserved for the posterity to keep the connectivity between steam engine period  and Diesel or electric engine period. Since the colonial period, the railways have grown a lot and more and more new BG lines are being added up to meet the demand from the travelling public. 

Steps have been taken up by the government and railway officials to convert the heritage railway bridges across the country into National  Monuments  with recreation facilities.

Jubilee Bridge, Hooghley

Jubilee Bridge 1887, West Bengal en.wikipedia.org

Jubilee Bridge Kolkata, flicker.com 

Above image: Jubilee Bridge is an important bridge over the Hooghly River between Naihati and Bandel, West Bengal; flanked on either side by Garifa and Hooghly Ghat stations, the bridge was one of the oldest in India featuring  cantilever truss technique. It used only rivets, no nuts or bolts and had  a unique feature of pendulum bearings.

Schematic diagram Jubilee Bridge Kolkata, esearchgate.net
Illustration: Dominic Xavier/Rediff.com.

Jubilee Bridge with Sampreeti Bridge on the background

The train services started in 2018 on the new Jubilee Bridge to take care of faster movement of trains  and far safer than the old bridge that came up in 1887, barely 34 years after commercial train had begun operating in the country,   An engineering marvel,  the old  connecting two stations -  Hooghly Ghat and Garifa (Naihati) station on the western  was opened on 16 February 1885 in the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria; hence  named in  1887 as  the golden jubilee of Queen Victoria's reign. It was  was celebrated on 20 and 21 June 1887 to mark the 50th anniversary of Queen Victoria's accession on 20 June 1837. It was celebrated with a Thanksgiving Service at Westminster Abbey, and a banquet to which 50 European kings and princes were invited.

Victoria's Golden Jubilee silver double florin, struck 1887 upload.wikimedia.org

Unlike the Jubilee Bridge, in the the 6,580-tonne replacement bridge the girder is a welded continuous open web Steel Bow String.  Its maximum height is 45m above the pier bearing and 37m above the rail level. The  work on the 407m facility located 22m downstream from the original site  began in 2005, but, unfortunately it took 10 long years  to complete  the project.  The cost up to 2014 -15 was Rs 240 crore. with an additional  out lay of  Rs. 53 cr  for 2015-16.

Sir Bradford Leslie,KCIE (1831-1926) en.wikipedia.org

Above image:  Sir Bradford Leslie KCIE (1831-1926)  an English civil engineer who specialized in bridges and was a  student  of Isambard Kingdom Brunel.  Consulting engineer to the Eastern Bengal Railway, Leslie was sent to India as engineer in charge of bridges and viaducts.  His most noteworthy  achievement was the 1887 Jubilee Bridge, West Bengal.......................

The Bridge was designed by Sir Bradford Leslie, The work on the old bridge began in earnest n 1882 under chief engineer Lt Col Arth John Barry, nephew of Sir John Wolfe-Barry, project manager of   London Tower bridge England. The steel for the bridge was made  by Hawks Crawshay of Gateshead in England and James Goodwin of Motherwell in Scotland.  Its cast-iron pendulum bearings proved to be the bridge's undoing and trains had to follow speed restrictions because   two bearings at the Naihati-end developed  cracks and might become serious in course of time.

The Jubilee Bridge  that had served the people for 129 years, and several generations used the service to cross the River Hooghly was decommissioned from service on 17 April 2016 to handle more traffic;  the last train to pass through it being train number 13141, Teesta-Torsa Express, Same time rail traffic was diverted through Sampreeti Bridge, the new bridge between Bandel and Naihati section of the Eastern Railway, that has been constructed besides the Jubilee Bridge. The nebridge is called Sampreeti Setu, though some refer to it as the New Jubilee Bridge.  There are other old railway bridges too and the Heritage Directorate of the Indian Railways has a list of  such old colonial bridge - about 21 of them. .The nebridge is called Sampreeti Setu, though some refer to it as the New Jubilee Bridge. Some old ones are between  Hooghly Ghat and Garifa station.