The old world magic and excitement of travelling leisurely by trains on narrow gauge railway lines, is fast becoming a thing of the past world over, including India. Now, the last surviving narrow-gauge line, running 106 km between Itwari-Nagbhid near Nagpur on the South East Central Railway (SECR), will also become a part of world rail history, within a year or so.
Probably, Bollywood contributed a lot to popularise the romance of the narrow gauge trains, featuring them in several memorable film songs. Some of the classic numbers people still remember are: "Jiya O, Jiya Kucch Bol Do" ("Jab Pyar Kisi Se Hota Hai", 1961, Shimla-Kalka Railway), "Mere Sapnon Ki Rani" ("Aradhana", 1969, Darjeeling Mountain Railway), "Gadi Bula Rahi Hai" ("Dost", 1974), "Chhaiyya, Chhaiyya" ("Dil Se", 1998, Nilgiri Mountain Railways), among many others.
Nagpur to Nagbhid, which was the original route of the narrow gauge railway line, essentially served as the lifeline of the people in the erstwhile Central Province of British India. The line itself was born out of an emergency during the Great Indian Famine of 1876-1878, when the Bengal-Nagpur Railway announced its construction, later known as Satpura Railway network, to save the lives of people dying of hunger in the remote and inaccessible parts of central India.
The 4 hours 45-minute long Itwari-Nagbhid train journey remains thrilling as the trains chug through dense forests, tribal hamlets, mountains with an occasional tunnel, plains and river bridges; in the olden days hauled by steam engines, and later by diesel engines, connecting Nagpur and Chandrapur districts in eastern Maharashtra.
---IANSFor more interesting stories, Download the Lopscoop application from Google play store and earn extra money by sharing it on social media