Bilimora is a small city situated on the banks of the river Ambika, in Gandevi taluka and Navsari district of Gujarat state in India. It comes under the administration of the Surat Metropolitan Region. On the other hand, Waghai is a town in the Dang region of the Southern part of Gujarat. Individually speaking, not too many people have heard about these two cities but when you combine them, they are of significant importance for the region. The Bilimora-Waghai narrow gauge train which has been the pride of the region has completed 104 years. Here is all you need to know it in 10 points:
1. The 63-km track of this train was laid by the British at the instance of the Sayajirao Gaekwad in 1913.
2. Initially, the train was supposed to be a part of Gaekwad’s Baroda State Railway (GBSR) which was owned by the Princely State of Baroda which was ruled by the Gaekwad dynasty.
3. The motive behind this track was to keep the connection with the royal state.
4. However, it was also used by the Gaekwad rulers for transportation of precious sag wood from forests.
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5. After Independence, GBSR eventually merged and became a part of Western Railways. At the turn of the last century, GBSR had all: narrow gauge, metre gauge and broad gauge. Now, most of its lines have been converted to broad gauge.
6. The train has five coaches and runs at a speed of around 20 km per hour. It takes about 3 hours and 5 minutes to complete the journey.
7. The Bilimora-Waghai narrow gauge train was running on a steam engine for almost 24 years before a diesel engine was installed in 1937. The old steam engine was later put on display in 1994 in Mumbai’s Churchgate station as railway heritage.
8. The route has nine stations 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 the tickets can only be purchased from Waghai, Unai and Bilimora.
9. Apart from this, there are seven level crossings on the route as well but surprisingly, there are no gate men. 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.
10. The train makes two trips in a 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.