Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Little Narrow Gauge of Central India

On the morning of December 9, 2006, we wait at Itwari Jn. to catch the Nagpur Chindwara passenger. VSP looks on as the rest of the gang is busy chatting up the station officials about the narrow gauge line from Nagpur to Chindwara. The line goes north of Nagpur to Chindwara from where it veers towards the East till Nainpur where it turns north again till Jabalpur.

Itwari Jn. is a suburb of Nagpur and is a dual gauge station with a full complement of broad gauge lines on one side and narrow gauge lines on the other side. In fact, I had never seen so many loop lines of narrow gauge anywhere else than Itwari. VSP, Bharat and Sachin (with camera) seem to agree with me. Dr. Akash Apurva and Mr. Srinivas are examining the gauge.

The little narrow gauge train arrives behind a ZDM diesel locomotive.

The little train was packed with people. Some of them hanging by the doors. The journey was a rock and roll affair as the train rolled over the tiny tracks swaying sideways all the time. Here we are crossing the Howrah bound broad-gauge line by going under it.

Koradih, a major mining town is the second station we stopped at. It is a Passenger Halt as the board depicts ("P.H."). This one is a basic single line with non-automated signalling and quite a few crossings. Most of the stations are termed passenger halts as they do not have loop lines to enable crossings of opposite running trains. These little stations fall within a
block section. Only a few big stations on this route are the block stations.

There were a few curves along the route until Ramakona line like this one. Most of the route was dead straight.

A departmental observation car at at the end of the train. It is in a mint condition despite being almost 100 years old.

The observation car came with a dining car too. Both were closely vesitbuled together.

One of our the crossing stations, Khaparkheda. The Ramakona-Nagpur passenger (VSP is standing by it) was waiting for us on the loop line. The ZDM are well maintained by the Motibagh Shed at Nagpur.

Another view of Khaparkheda. Note the observation car. It has windows to the back offering an uninterrupted view of the track behind.

A long section of straight tracks. The rails were not replaced despite having been laid for long due to the impending gauge conversion. As a result we had a rock and roll journey all the way.

Saoner was a bigger station with plenty of passenger movement. It had two loop lines.

Another view of Saoner's railway station.

Goodbye Saoner. Note the semaphore signal.

Ramakona was the next big block station. It also marked an end to endless plains and straight tracks. Seen here is the locomotive of our train.

Post Ramakona, the scenery changed dramatically. Population became more sparse and seperated. Vegetation turned thicker as foilage started to skirt the tracks. There were more trees, taller and sturdier than before. Curves also increased as we headed into the forests of the Satpura.

As the sun set, we passed small stations nestled amidst increasingly thickening woods. Ghadela was one such station. The temeperature was falling slowly.

We passed little stations with small sheds in place of station houses like this one named Devi.

Bhimalgondi was at a higher altitude reached after negotiating thick forests of teak along hillsides that the train crossed on a series of sharp curves.

Bhimalgondi is my favourite station of this route. Nestled among hills and surrounded by thickj forest, this little station seems so far away from civiliztion and so peaceful.

It was dark by the time we reached Chindwara Jn, our destination. The passenger from Chindwara to Nagpur was already at Chindwara. We alighted our train to catch this one. The train we alighted would continue to Nainpur and then to Jabalpur.


Anonymous said...

This is a heritage railway network...the worlds largest narrow gauge network and must be preserved not shelved.

electro said...

aaah,its really a wonderful information about my country that even i did nt know..i loved it..also i loved tiny cute ZDM so much...more blogs on this expected..god bless you..