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Billimora-Waghai heritage train service – a lifeline for tribals in Gujarat for over 100 years – comes to end

This heritage train route, which was among 11 branch lines and narrow-gauge sections of the Western Railways, has been a lifeline for tribals staying in the interior villages of South Gujarat.

  • Billimora-Waghai heritage train service – a lifeline for tribals in Gujarat for over 100 years – has come to an end
  • The train service on this route was first started by the British in 1913.
  • It had been halted since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Billimora-Waghai heritage train service – a lifeline for tribals in Gujarat for over 100 years – comes to end

NEW DELHI: Billimora-Waghai heritage train line – a narrow-gauge train service that has been operational for more than a hundred years in South Gujarat – will soon stop functioning as the Rail Ministry has ordered for its permanent closure.

This heritage train route, which was among 11 branch lines and narrow-gauge sections of the Western Railways, has been a lifeline for tribals staying in the interior villages of South Gujarat.

The route was recently deemed “unfit and uneconomic” for commercial operations by the Indian Railways. Confirming the development, the Chief Public Relations Officer of Western Railway said that out of the 11 lines, a few had already stopped functioning.

 

 

The train service on this route was first started by the British in 1913. This train service was halted after the Indian Railways suspended its operation for several months to curb the spread of the deadly Covid-19 pandemic. Historically, the Billimora-Waghai service is linked to the Gaekwad dynasty, which once ruled the princely state of Baroda.

The narrow-gauge rail route connected Billimora junction in Valsad to Waghai Junction in Dangs district, covering a distance of 63-km which also included the areas which lacked road connectivity.

The train, with five coaches, was mostly used by tribals because of its cheap fare - Rs 15. The tribals of this area used this train for carrying their vegetables and farm produces to sell them at Billimora. 

Similarly, poor labourers from Dangs working in Billimora also used the train for their daily commute. Upset with the Rail Ministry's order for its closure, locals, including tribals, have made a series of representations before Valsad MP Dr KC Patel and Dang BJP MLA Vijay Patel for revoking the move.

It may be noted that the Western Railways had suffered a total loss of earnings of Rs 1770.18 crore due to the suspension of train services owing to COVID-19. It includes Rs 260.69 crore for suburban services and Rs 1509.49 crore for non-suburban services.

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