Nadiad - Bhadran Narrow Gauge Trip
by Vikas Singh
I reached Nadiad at 0715hrs on 14th July by the 701 Vadodara - Ahmedabad MEMU. Nadiad has three BG platforms and one NG platform. I was not sure if the section was still operational after the recent monsoons. Just the previous day I had been told at Pratap Nagar diesel shed that Kosamba-Umarpada and Ankleshawar-Rajpipla section had been closed due to monsoon breaches. At the NG platform, I came to know that this section was running. Last year this section had been closed for a month due to monsoon breaches and even this year a girder bridge had been damaged near the Dewa station.
I went to the booking window to buy a ticket, only to be told that tickets are sold only after the Petlad-Nadiad passenger arrives. There is a daily Nadiad-Bhadran service 045 that leaves Nadiad at 0915hrs reaching Bhadran at 1230hrs. The 046 leaves Bhadran at 1410hrs reaching Nadiad at 1735hrs. No. 047 Nadiad-Petlad leaves at 1915hrs reaching Petlad at 2105hrs. The diesel shed is at Petlad. There are two ZDM-5 locos in this section: 501 and 526. No. 048 Petlad-Nadiad Passenger leaves Petlad at 0600hrs, reaching Nadiad at 0750hrs. Strangely the Western railway TT does not reflect these services accurately. On Sundays only 047 and 048 run. The booking clerk was waiting for the 048 to arrive before she could issue tickets.
The three coach rake of 045 was there at the NG platform. It was composed of GS 90086 (Mysore, 1991), SR 695 (Kalka, 1985) and GS 690 (Mysore, 1990).At 0755hrs 048 arrived powered by ZDM 5 (526). It was a five coach rake GS 90056 (Mysore, 1992), GS 94056 (Mysore, 1994) SLR 90110 (Kalka, 2002) GS 94067 (Mysore, 1996) GS 90055 (Mysore, 1992). Power was detached and attached to the 045 rake. Nearby four more coaches were spotted. GS 90063 (Kalka, 1992) GS 90073 (Kalka, 1994) GS 90062 (Kalka, 1992) SLR 90107 (Kalka, 1999).
We left at 0925hrs, ten minutes behind schedule. Near the outer BG cabin is the diamond crossing with the BG line. Between Nadiad-Petlad (38km) are stations of Pij, Vaso, Dewa, Dabhou, Sojitara and Virol. Save at Vaso and Dabhou, at all other stations, tickets are being sold by commission agents. They get 12.5% of the value of tickets sold or Rs.500, which ever is higher per month. The track is in extremely bad shape. There is no ballast on the entire section and the sleepers are wooden. At places the wooden sleepers have cracked and have sunk in the soil. As a result the speed restriction on the entire section is 15km/h.Near the Dewa station, the train slowed down to 5km/h to go over a girder bridge that had recently been damaged. This was the same bridge that had been washed away last year. At 1115hrs we reached Petlad junction. Petlad is on the Anand-Khambhat BG section. There are seven DMU services in each direction on this BG section. The diesel shed is nothing more than a tin shed to keep the two diesel locos covered from the top. The entrance to the shed is however quite picturesque. There are old banyan trees all round and they give a very rustic look to the NG platform and the shed. I could count twelve trees there. We left Petlad at 1130hrs. The NG track crosses the BG track just after the station.
There used to be five stations between Petlad and Bhadran - Visrampura, Sunderana, Dharmaj, Jharola and Bochasan. Now, save Bochasan, all the other four stations have been closed down. The entire journey so far has been through lush green countryside. Farmers were busy transplanting paddy. At some places one could see banana plantations. Peacocks were all round. Monsoon being the mating season, one could see them displaying their plumage proudly. We reached Bochasan at 1220hrs. Though TT does not mention it, Bochasan is actually a junction. It is on the Vadodara-Kathana BG section. There are daily two services in each direction on this 62km section. We finally reached Bhadran at 1250hrs, twenty minutes behind schedule. We had taken three and half hours to cover 59km section.
Bhadran station has long been abandoned. Most of the passengers had disembarked at Petlad and I could count only six passengers get down at Bhadran. This station also has banyan trees growing all round. However the station ruins together with these tall trees give it an eerie feel. The station is at some distance from this small town and I took an auto rickshaw to go the bus station in search of a decent hotel to have lunch. My search however proved futile as this is a real small town. I had to settle down for hot pakoras and chai. Soon I was back at the station. With nothing else to do, I caught a quick nap inside the coach.
We left at 1410hrs with just two passengers. I was traveling like royalty with the whole coach to myself. My plan was to get down at Bochasan to catch the 104 Kathana-Vadodara passenger. However when we arrived at Bochasan, I was told that timetable had changed and that the passenger had already left. I decided to footplate till Petlad to which the loco pilot readily agreed. We reached Petlad at 1520hrs and I immediately went to the BG platform for the 526 Khambat - Anand DEMU. It arrived on time at 1530hrs but left late at 1600hrs. When we left Petlad, the NG train was still at the platform. We reached Anand just in time at 1640hrs to catch the 6507 Jodhpur-Bangalore express which was late. Since I didn't have time, I could not buy ticket and boarded a sleeper coach. As ill luck would have it, there was a TTE. While many others got scot free as they had railway pass, I had to part with a hefty fine. We reached Vadodara back at 1710hrs.
Save the PRTN-Jambusar, Dabhoi-Malsar and Nadiad-Bhadran section all NG sections of Western Railway have been closed down either due to gauge conversion or monsoon breaches. I will soon be uploading the latest All India NG mileage. (See the documents section.)