Murtijapur-Yavatmal NG Trip
by Vikas Singh
After a great rail fanning session on the Murtijapur-Achalpur section, it was time for Murtijapur- Yavatmal trip. There is only one train on this route, which leaves Murtijapur at 0705 hrs to return at 1625 hrs. The scheduled travel time for this one-way 112 km route is 4 hrs 35 minutes.
I was at the station sharp at 0630 hrs but was told that the train left only after the Achalpur passenger had left at 0715 hrs. The train finally left Murtijapur at 0730 hrs. Immediately after Murtijapur the train climbs up an embankment and crosses the Nagpur-Murtijapur BG line. The first station enroute is Murtijapur town, a mere 2 km distance from the junction. There are a total of 17 stations till Yavatmal. However most stations do not have any permanent structure and have only the station board. The guard was selling tickets from his coach. Frequently he would get down at the station and coax passengers embarking to buy tickets. The Yavatmal route is more scenic than the Achalpur route. The route passes thru hilly terrain and in some places the track passes thru deep trenches cut in the terrain. The gradient at some places was 1 in 70. There are two major bridges on this route and both are on river Adan.
The only station of significance is Darwana, which boasts of a stationmaster, a concrete station building along with a huge gate. The loco pilot introduced me to the old stationmaster who had retired last month after 23 years of service. I was told that Darwana was once an important station for transport of cotton and that goods godown used to occupy more than an acre of land. However with advent of road transport this rail traffic gradually died. The old water column, water tank, godown building and the signaling levers could still be seen at the station. Darwana also hid a little rail mystery of its own, a fact that has not been reported widely. During the British times there was t track from Darwana to Pusad and Dhigraj. The tracks were uprooted during World War 11 and taken away to probably Africa. However unlike the Kangra railway, these tracks were never laid again. The earthwork and bridge could be seen from the station premise. I was told that rail bridges on this route were so well built that in one of the recent floods while a road bridge was swept away, the disused rail bridge withstood the fury.
The traffic on this route is comparatively less and by the time the train reached penultimate station of Lasina the coach was almost empty. At Lasina a number of women got up with bundles of firewood blocking all doors and making any movement inside impossible. This last stretch of 11-12 kms passes thru thick forest of teak and has many curves. This was the best section of the track with the loco pilot frequently notching 30-35 kmph. All this while his hand never let go the horn. I was told that the forest has a sizeable population of deer, boar and bears.
We finally reached Yavatmal at 1340 hrs, a good one hour behind schedule. Like Achalpur, Yavatmal too has computerized booking office. After spending some time at Yavatmal, it was time to leave for Nagpur by road and catch the flight back to Delhi.