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Vaghai-Bilimora Heritage Line

  • 02 Feb 2021
  • 2 min read

Why in News

The Western Railway has decided to not stop the services of three trains, including the 107-year-old narrow gauge heritage train between Vaghai and Bilimora, in Gujarat permanently.

  • Other two narrow gauge trains run between Miyagam, Choranda and Malsar, and Choranda junction and Moti Karal.
  • In rail transport, track gauge or track gage is the spacing of the rails on a railway track.

Key Points

  • Background:
    • The Ministry of Railways, previously issued a letter to the Western Railway ordering permanent closure of 11 "uneconomic branch lines" and narrow gauge sections of the Western Railway, including three from Gujarat.
  • About the Vaghai-Billimora Train:
    • It started in 1913, was a remnant of Gaekwad dynasty who ruled the princely state of Baroda. Tribal people from the interior commute by this train regularly. The train covers a distance of 63 kilometres.
    • At the instance of Gaekwad rulers, the British laid railway tracks and it was operated by Gaekwad Baroda State Railway (GBSR) owned by Sayajirao Gaekwad III.
      • The Gaekwad jurisdiction was spread across parts of Saurashtra, Mehsana in north Gujarat, and Bilimora in South Gujarat.
      • The founder of the dynasty was Damaji I who had risen to power by 1740. The last Gaekwar, Sayaji Rao III, died in 1939.
    • For about 24 years the train was run by a steam engine, which was replaced by a diesel engine in 1937.
      • In 1994, the original steam engine was put on the display at Churchgate Heritage Gallery in Mumbai.
    • This was much before the Western Railway came into existence in 1951 with the merger of the Bombay, Baroda & Central India Railway, the Saurashtra, Rajputana and Jaipur state Railways.
    • The 63-km Billimora-Vaghai and the 19-km Choranda-Moti Karal routes are among those five routes the Indian Railways had proposed to be preserved as "industrial heritage" in 2018.

Source: IE

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