A narrow-gauge train service that ran for over a hundred years in South Gujarat may have already completed its final journey.
The Billimora-Waghai heritage train route was among 11 branch lines and narrow gauge sections of the Western Railways that were deemed to be “uneconomic” by the Railway Ministry, which ordered their permanent closure.
The train service, started by the British in 1913, was mostly used by the tribals staying in interior villages. It had been halted since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Sumit Thakur, chief public relations officer of Western Railway, which made the closure proposal, confirmed the Railway Ministry order on Thursday. “Out of the 11 lines, a few had already stopped functioning,” Thakur told The Indian Express.
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The Billimora-Waghai service was a vestige of Gaekwad dynasty who ruled the princely state of Baroda.
The narrow gauge connecting Billimora junction in Valsad district to Waghai Junction in Dangs district covers 63 kilometres, which includes the areas that have lack road connectivity or other modes of transport.
The train has five coaches and the fare is Rs 15. Most of the users of this train are tribals who carry their vegetables from their farms to sell at Billimora. Labourers from Dangs working in chickoo and mango farms in Billimora also use the train service.
Bipin Rajput from Waghai, a farmer and social worker, said, “We have been seeing this train since childhood… A lot of sentiments are attached to this train. We were shocked to know about the Western Railway’s decision to stop the train service. We have made representations to Valsad MP Dr KC Patel, Dang BJP MLA Vijay Patel, and other leaders..”
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