June 11, 2009 1:16:51 am
Mayurbhanj State Railway (MSR) was owned and constructed by Bengal Nagpur Railway (BNR) Company and funded by the Mayurbhanj State during the reign of king Ram Chandra Bhanja Deo. The first section of 52 km from Rupsa to Baripada was opened for traffic on January 20,1905. Rupsa was the junction with BNRs broad gauge line. An agreement was signed on December 2,1918,between the Mayurbhanj State and Mayurbhanj Railway Company,for extending the line till Talband,61.5 km away. This section was opened on July 15,1920. From that date,the management of the entire Rupsa-Talband section was handed over to Mayurbhanj Railway Company who managed this line through managing agents,Hoare Miller & Co.,of Calcutta. They in turn worked this line through Bengal Nagpur Railway.
After Independence,when the railways were regrouped,BNR along with eastern divisions of the East Indian Railway was constituted into the Eastern Railway on April 14,1952. Later the newly formed zone was found to be too large for effective working and on August 1,1955,the BNR portion was separated into new zone-South Eastern Railway.
In early 2003 there were two services each in either direction. The first service from Rupsa (1 RB) started at 0645 hours reaching Bangriposi at 1130 hours. The second service from Bangriposi (2 RB) started at 1210 hours reaching Rupsa at 1705 hours. The first service from Baripada (6 RB) started at 0415 hours reaching Rupsa at 0615 hours. The second service from Rupsa (5 RB) started at 1830 hours reaching Baripada at 2030 hours. Baripada is at a distance of 50 km from the Simlipal Tiger Reserve.
To work the line,Mayurbhanj State Railway chose 20 ton 0-6-4 T locomotives,designated as ML class. The first two of these (No-691,692) were built by Kerr,Stuart and Company. Later in 1924,two more locomotives (No-693,694) built by the same company were added. These locos were later transferred to Naupada shed of Paralakhemedi light railway,renamed PL class and heavier CC class 4-6-2 locos of Satpura narrow gauge lines were introduced on MSR. These were built by North British Locomotive Company,Glasgow. Later ZE class locomotives built by M/S Corpet Louvet,M/S Krauss Maffei and M/s Kawasaki were introduced. All locos were homed at Baripada loco shed. Sometime in late eighties,diesel took over,bring to an end the era of steam locomotives on MSR.
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All the four ML class (later PL class) locomotives survive even today. PL 691 has been plinthed outside Southern Railway headquarters,Chennai.PL 692 has been plinthed outside BNR Hotel,Puri. PL 693 has been plinthed on the Ramakrishna beach,Vishakhapatnam. It was plinthed there during Visakha Utsav in 1998.PL 694 has been plinthed outside the Vishakhapatnam station.
Bowing to public demand,conversion of this narrow gauge line to broad gauge was sanctioned in 1995-96. Railway Minister C K Jafer Sharif,laid the foundation stone for gauge conversion of Rupsa-Bangriposi line in 1996. The line completed its centenary in 2005 but services were closed due to gauge conversion. Work was finally completed in Sep,2005 and regular broad services started from January 29,2006.
VIKAS SINGH,RAIL ENTHUSIAST
Courtesy National Rail Museum
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