Between Dhaboi and Miyagam in Gujarat is an Indian Railways line which is also said to be Asia’s first narrow-gauge line. However, soon this narrow-gauge line will be converted to braod gauge, reports IE. The line which has been operational since 19th century, does not add to present railway requirements. Earlier this year, the Railway Board decided to preserve this line as an invaluable piece of industrial heritage. However, recently, while refusing to preserve the line as heritage, the Western Railway, which has jurisdiction over this line, wrote to the Railway Board stating that the project for converting this narrow gauge line into broad gauge line and linking it to the main line was sanctioned in the year 2011-12, and the work for that has already started.
According to the report, the Western Railway argued that once the 33-km section is converted into broad gauge, it will help reduce congestion in Vadodara. The zone also informed that for this work, 13 tenders have been awarded, amounting to Rs 110 crore. This had been identified by the Railway Board and also four other lines connecting it, for preservation since they handle negligible traffic.
Western Railway stated that as the 33-km Dhaboi-Miyagam line has only two trains running every day, it is advised that this section should not be preserved as heritage line. Similarly, the zone has objected to preserving of the 51-km long Pratapnagar-Jambusar section, stating that this section has been sanctioned for gauge conversion. The Western Railway also claimed that if this line remains a narrow gauge, continuity of broad-gauge line from Bharuch/Dahesh to Chhota Udepur will be broken. However, the zone has agreed the preserving of three lines – 63 km long Bilimora-Waghai section, 38-km long Miyagam-Choranda-Malsar section and the 19-km long Choranda-Moti Koral section.
Other than some hill railways in India, the narrow-gauge lines are pretty much non-existent in the world. Indian Railways is making efforts to preserve them. All the above mentioned narrow gauge lines are in Gujarat of 204 km, were originally owned by the princely state’s Gaekwad Baroda State Railway.