The last vestige of the Gaekwad dynasty of Baroda State, the Bilimora Jn. – Waghai narrow gauge train chugging in the forests of the Dangs, has completed 104 years, but till date it remains a big tourist attraction for the scenic beauty of the area and a means for local tribals to transport their elegantly crafted bamboo works. The route has nine stations in between Bilimora in Valsad district and Waghai in the Dangs (Gandevi, Chikhli Road, Rankawa, Dholikua, Anawal, Unai & Vansada Road, Kevdi Road, Kala Amba and Dungarda) but ticket windows are only at Waghai, Unai and Bilimora.
The 63-km track was laid by the British at the instance of the Sayajirao Gaekwad in 1913. It was to be a part of Gaekwad’s Baroda State Railway (GBSR), the railway line owned by the Princely State of Baroda which was ruled by the Gaekwad dynasty. The intention was to keep alive their connection with the royal state. The then Gaekwad rulers would also use this train for transportation of precious sag wood from forests. After independence, GBSR eventually merged and became a part of Western Railways. With five coaches, the train runs at a speed of around 20 km per hour and takes about 3 hours and 5 minutes. For 24 years, it used a steam engine, which was replaced by diesel engine later in 1937. The old steam engine was put on display in 1994 in Mumbai’s Churchgate station as railway heritage. At the turn of the last century, GBSR had all: narrow gauge, metre gauge and broad gauge. Now most of its lines has been converted to broad gauge.
The route has seven level crossings but no gate man. Every time the train reaches a crossing, the gate man alights from the train, clears the traffic and closes the gates, lets the train pass from the crossing, opens the gates and then re-boards the train. It makes two trips in the day with fixed departure time but the arrival time is not certain, because tickets are sold by the guard, who clears the train only after selling all tickets. Between Kala Amba and Dungarda, the railway line also passes through the Vansda national park which harbors leopards, tigers, pangolins, rusty spotted cats, pythons, giant squirrels, four-horned antelopes and hyenas among others.