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Thursday, March 04, 2021

Gujarat: Vaghai-Billimora heritage train to chug on as Western Railway revokes decision to scrap its services

Local people as well as both Congress and BJP leaders had made representations to the Western Railway authorities urging them not to permanently close the heritage train service.

By: Express News Service | Surat |
Updated: January 29, 2021 11:29:53 pm
The Vaghai-Billimora train, which started in 1913, was a vestige of Gaekwad dynasty who ruled the princely state of Baroda. (File)

Going back on its decision, 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 Billimora, in Gujarat permanently.

Other two narrow gauge trains run between Miyagam, Choranda and Malsar, and Choranda junction and Moti Karal.

On December 10, 2020, Mudit Chandra, Executive Director (Freight Marketting) of the Ministry of Railways, issued a letter to the Western Railway General Manager, ordering permanent closure of 11 “uneconomic branch lines” and narrow gauge sections of the Western Railway, including three from Gujarat.

On Friday, Chandra issued another letter to the same official, a copy of which is with The Indian Express, stating, “Notification for permanent closure of uneconomic branch lines and narrow gauge sections had been issued from Board, vide letter under reference (i). However, in view letter under reference (iii) of Heritage Directorate of Railway Board, and subsequent correspondence from Western Railway, the matter has been reviewed in consultations of Finance Directorate of Railway board. Consequently it has been decided to keep three heritage lines viz., Miyagam-Choranda-Malsar, Choranda Junction-Moti Karal and Billimora Junction-Vaghai… the notification issued vide letter, will not be applicable on the above mentioned three heritage lines. This issue is in consultation with the Finance Directorate of the Ministry of Railways.”

Anu Tyagi, Railway Area Manager of Valsad railway station, said, “We have received the letter from our head office… Now the narrow gauge heritage train connecting Billimora to Vaghai will not be stopped. Once the Covid situation turns normal and after we get instructions from our head office, we will resume the heritage train service.”

The Vaghai-Billimora train, which started in 1913, was a vestige of Gaekwad dynasty who ruled the princely state of Baroda. Tribal people from interior Dangs commute by this train regularly. The train covers a distance of 63 kilometres.

Local people as well as both Congress and BJP leaders had made representations to the Western Railway authorities urging them not to permanently close the heritage train service.

Social worker Bipin Rajput said, “We are happy about the decision. The victory is of the people of Dangs. We are thankful to the Ministry of Railways, who took the train’s heritage value into consideration.”

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