VADODARA: India’s oldest working narrow gauge line will now remain only in history books. The 33-km long Dabhoi-Miyagam line, which has the distinction of being the first narrow gauge section in the country since 1862, will be closed forever from Sunday. The line will be converted into broad gauge soon.
The last pair of trains between Dabhoi and Miyagam as train numbers 52019/ 52020 chugged on the narrow gauge section on Saturday evening.
Ironically, just last month, the ministry of railways (Railway Board) had identified the Dabhoi-Miyagam line as one of the five narrow gauge lines that can be preserved for promoting heritage tourism in the country. For this, it had asked the Western Railway (WR) to submit its opinion by June 30.
The Railway Board’s letter to WR last month had raised hopes that the narrow gauge line will be saved from extinction. as In 2004-05 a survey on whether Dabhoi-Miyagam line should be converted into broad gauge was undertaken, but there was no development after that.
We received a communique from our headquarters on Friday that the ministry of railways has decided to permanently discontinue the narrow gauge trains running between Dabhoi and Miyagam to pursue broad gauge conversion, an official of Vadodara railway division said. However, Vadodara railway officials were tight-lipped over the latest order from the ministry. Sources said even they were baffled by the two contradictory orders of the same ministry.
Apart from Dabhoi-Miyagam line, four other narrow gauge lines that the ministry had identified for promoting heritage tourism included the Miyagam-Malsar line, the Charonda-Moti Koral line, the Pratapnagar-Jambusar line and the Bilimora-Waghi line. Except the Bilimora-Waghi line that falls in the Mumbai Central division, all four other lines that date back to the Gaekwad era fall in Vadodara railway division. All four narrow gauge lines were originally owned by the erstwhile Gaekwad Baroda State Railway, which post-Independence merged with the Indian Railways’ network.