The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress have started campaigns to save the 107-year-old heritage train service between Billimora in Valsad district and Waghai in Dangs district from shutting down.
The Union Railway Ministry recently approved a proposal by the Western Railway to close down 11 narrow gauge train services, claiming they were “uneconomic”, as a measure to reduce costs and improve savings. These 11 trains include the five-coach heritage train connecting Billimora and Waghai.
Newly elected BJP MLA from Dangs, Vijay Patel, submitted a memorandum to Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, requesting not to scrap the heritage train service but instead upgrade it to promote tourism.
Accompanied by BJP leaders on Monday afternoon, Patel submitted the memorandum addressed to Goyal to Additional Divisional Railway Manager (ADRM) Western Railway, Mumbai, Sumeet Hansrajani; area manager, Valsad, Anu Tyagi; and Divisional Commercial Manager Western Railway, Abhay Sanap.
The memorandum states, “The 107-year-old heritage train connecting Billimora to Waghai is the only lifeline of the tribal community people staying Dang. The beneficiaries of the train are tribals from interior areas in Dang district who work in towns like Gandevi, Billimora and Chikhli…”
Adding that the train be upgraded and utilised for tourism, the memorandum requested the Railway Ministry to restart the heritage train.
Vijay Patel said, “We have made a request to the Railway authorities and requested them to rethink the decision of permanent closure of the heritage train… it is the only lifeline for a large number of tribals…”
The Congress will hold demonstrations at the nine stations of the heritage train, starting with Unai on Tuesday.
Congress MLA from Vansda seat, Anant Patel, said, “Our protest will start from Tuesday… There are nine railway stations on the heritage train route and we will hold a dharna at every station over nine days. We will also make representations to the elected BJP MP and MLA of Valsad and Dang as well as BJP state president. We have also sought support from the royal family of Vadodara.”
General manager of Western Railway, Alok Kansal, is scheduled to visit Waghai Railway station, on December 19, according to sources
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines