Hardinge Bridge is a steel railway bridge over the Padma located in western Bangladesh. It is named after Lord Hardinge, who was the Viceroy of India from 1910 to 1916. The bridge is 1.8 kilometers (1.1 mi) long.
Construction began in 1910, though it was proposed at least 20 years earlier. It took almost 2 years for it to be completed, and trains started moving on it in 1915.
The construction of a railway Bridge over the Padma was proposed by Eastern Bengal Railway in 1889 for easier communication between Calcutta and the then Eastern Bengal & Assam and discussed for more than twenty years before it was finally sanctioned for construction in 1908. In 1902, Sir FJE Spring prepared a detailed project on the bridge. A technical committee appointed in 1908 reported that a bridge could be constructed at Sara crossing the lower Ganges between Paksey and Bheramara stations on the broad gauge railway from Khulna to Parbatipur. The construction of the bridge started in 1910 and finished in 1912. British engineer Sir Robert Gailes worked as the chief engineer of the construction. On the 1st of January 1915, the first trial train crossed the bridge down track and on 25 February of the same year the second trial train crossed the bridge up track. Finally on 4 March 1915 Lord Hardinge inaugurated the bridge. A total of 24,000 people were employed for constructing the bridge.
The Hardinge Bridge is 1.8 km long. There are 16 piers of castion type made of concrete cubes with a portion of above water level made of steel. The bridge comprises 15 steel trusses through spans each of 345 feet 11/2 inches from centre to centre of bearing (308 feet 11/2 inches clear span) with 6 deck type steel girders by approach spans (3 at each end), each of 75 feet centre to centre of bearings (66 feet clear span approximately). The original steel of Hardinge Bridge is of mild steel type equivalent to grade 43 of BS 4360 having yield stress of 20.8 tons/sq inch; ultimate tensile strength of 30.6 tons/sq inch at an elongation of 23%. The original design loading for the girders was Indian Railway broad gauge B of 1903+33% with an impact allowance giving a total live load of 1927 tons on two tracks.
The Harding's Bridge was severely damaged during the Liberation War 1971 .It was on the 13th December,1971 when the Indian Air Force plane bombed on the 4th guarder from the Paksey side. As the Pakistani army was on retreat towards Jessore,their last stronghold, the Harding's bridge was strategically very important.The allied force damaged the bridge. After the liberation the bridge was reopened on 12 October 1972, repaired by the joint venture of Bangladesh Railway and the Eastern India Railway of India. The Japanese Government helped to reconstruct the bridge.
It is the second largest railway bridge in Bangladesh. Another bridge named Lalon Shah Bridge for road transport beside the Harding's Bridge has recently been constructed.
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