Asia’s first narrow gauge railway line, opened in 1862, will soon become broad gauge

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The 33 km Dabhoi-Miyagam line, India’s first stretch of narrow gauge railway which began operations in 1862, is set to be widened. The decision to widen it was first announced just weeks after the railways identified it as one of five narrow gauge lines that can be preserved to promote heritage tourism.

Western Railways wrote to the Board of Railways this week pointing out that work to convert this line to broad gauge and link it to the main line was sanctioned in 2011-12, and that some parts of the work have already begun.

The line, which closed on July 15 this year, was designed by a British engineer named AW Ford. When it was put into service, the carriages were drawn by oxen. However, steam engines were deployed in 1863, when Maharaja Khanderao of Baroda State purchased three steam locomotives built by Glasgow-based Neilson and Company.

Apart from this, other lines that have been identified for preservation are Miyagam-Malsar line, Charonda-Moti Karal line, Pratap Nagar-Jambusar line and Bilmora-Waghi line.

Commercial narrow-gauge lines are virtually non-existent these days, their use being mostly limited to tourist trails.

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