After 18 years of living in Baroda, I came across to travel in Heritage Narrow gauge train which runs between Pratapnagar to Jambusar for the first time. A lovely ride of 3-4 hours to cross almost 50+ km.
The first narrow gauge railway line to be laid was to 2'6" gauge by the Gaekwar of Baroda to connect the town of Dabhoi to the broad gauge BBCIR railway. Initially bullocks were used to provide motive power to the railway until three 0-4-0 tank locomotives were introduced in 1863. The tank engines proved too heavy for the lightly laid rails and 0-4-0 tender engines were found to be more suitable with heavier rails. In the 1890s a 0-4-2 tender locomotive was introduced and instantly became popular.
The first train came to Vadodara in 1861, and the Railways celebrated its 150th anniversary in the city recently. The narrow trains are here since almost the same time. The tram line as it was called back then was the first tracks and rail to be owned and laid down by an Indian, the then king of Baroda(as it was known back then), Sir Khanderao Gaekwad in 1862. The coaches were then pulled by a pair of oxen. They were replaced soon by a locomotive built specially. More than a hundred and fifty years later, the narrow gauge train is still active on two routes around the city. Miyagaam to Dabhoi and Pratapnagar to Jambusar. I chose to try out the Pratapnagar to Jambusar route that spanned 50 kms.
I reached 30 minutes before the scheduled departure hoping for a Sunday rush and an empty ticket reservation window. Yet, it held a different picture. The station parking was full autos. The station itself was no more than two platforms a big and had a narrow gauge and a broad gauge. A canteen, a reservation counter and a temple along with the offices of the railways staff formed a part of the platform that was now crowded with men, women and children, most waiting for the broad gauge. The toy train like narrow gauge waited right in front for its scheduled departure and surprise, it was on dot time at 10:00 am.
There were many surprises on this toy train, one it run on enough speed a one can easily get down and get into other coach, a Guard was giving tickets where no stations in between. I can see that all passengers were buying tickets, even though you did not find any ticket checking in train. Train guard shuts "FATAK" (rail track crossing with road) before and after train crosses.
WOW a total fun trip .. Thanks Saurabh and Rena to make me part of their journey.
A empty Narrow gauge coach welcomes just opposite to Pratapnagar railway station.