The International Steam Pages
More Steam in Gujarat, October 1999
Lars-Åke Holst reports on what is probably his last visit to Morvi. Click here for other Autumn 1999 reports from here.
After my visit to this area in April this year I didn't think I could be back so soon again to see more of the last "steam-line" in India. I was reading reports that said steam was finished but then I got a message from Pietro in Italy and it said steam is still running but only between Wankaner and Morvi. I went down to India the last week in October to spend five full days around the line and here is my report together with some pictures from this visit and also some from my visit in April this year.
As soon as I arrived in Wankaner on board the train from Bombay I went over to the shed to meet my friend Buphendra Singh who is Loco Foreman in Wankaner Shed.
Here we are standing together in front of the only working YP in Wankaner which is 2825. I was told as usual and everytime that nobody knows how long steam will continue, but there had just arrived many wagonloads of coal from Bengal District so it will probably last some times more. Today thereare only 7 engines in working order and they are YP 2825, YG 3261, YG 3360, and YG 4369. YG 3334 and YG 3437 was inside the shed during my visit for minor repairs and YG 3318 was stored inside for heavy repairs. This means that 4 engines take care of the traffic and it is hard work for the shed-personal to keep them in running order.
Since my last visit some more locos have been condemned, like YP 2211,2150 and 2233 which are also waiting for the "scrapman". Of the working engines YG 3334 is now carrying the tender from YP 2233 so may be this is the first YG/YP loco!
Mr Bhupendra Singh also told me that YP 2684 had gone to Ajmer for overhaul and is then probably for sale abroad. YP 2805 and YG 3430 are stored at Sabarmati, YG 3474 stored outside the shed in Rajkot and YG 4252 has gone to Ajmer for overhaul and will after this go to Rewari and probably serve Palace on Wheels.
As mentioned in earlier reports there are 4 trains/day in each direction but they are only working between Wankaner - Morvi. On the next picture the morning train from Morvi is seen departure at 7.45 with Fast Pass 413 behind YG 4369, and it is really a smokey departure with beautiful Morvi station in the background.
Between 12.35 and 13.45 there is every day 3 locos in steam at Morvi station and in the next picture you can see this occasion.
One afternoon I was offered a footplate ride with YP 2825 from Morvi to Wankaner. It was very interesting to observe the crew with its often hard work to drive the engine. We were going chimney first and the result was my pockets and hair just full of coal from the smoke, which with the help of the wind, was coming direct back over the engine. I had to empty my pocket from coal in Wankaner and then wash my hair four times before I was clean again. But beleive me, it was really worth it. The following pictures is from my ride on board YP 2825.
The driver Nagji take a look out of the loco while we are going with good speed towards Wankaner.
A short break for the rest of the crew before bringing more coal to the fire which is an amazing team-work to observe during the ride.
The crew of YP 2825 poses before "going round" the train and return to the shed for taking coal and water before the next trip to Morvi.
There is a lot of good places along the line to take photos. I spent one full day with Andreas Noe of germany whom I ran into one morning at Morvi station. We had a nice day together and we also got a lot of good pictures. During these days I found out many good photo-spots so if someone is planning to go before it is to late, just contact me and I will hand over as much information as I have.
During these days I was going to all different places with the same ricksha. If You are staying at Thakkar Lodge, where most people stay, just ask for ricksha GTX 2001 with driver Samutbhai. He doesn´t speak a word of |English but never mind because he knows all the ways along the line and also the different photo-spots we found out. The following lineside pictures is from different places between Wankaner - Morvi.
During the first morning sun the train from Morvi has just passed the long horseshoe curve where You can follow the train for a long time, and just after this spot the train is passing through the cutting just north of Rafaleshwar station .
Here follow some pictures from my visit in april this year, and this is scenes that we will not be able to see again.
The morning train from Maliya Miyana arrives Morvi together with the first sunshine. Today no steam train is running north of Morvi. The next picture show the freight train, loaded with salt from Lavanpur, just arriving Morvi, and after taking water continuing to Wankaner.
Today all salt transport goes the other way on the new broad gauge line to the north.
Here is some more pictures from this October visit.
The Fast Pass 410 is passing the bridge north of Wankaner on its way to Morvi, and as seen all locos are going tender first from Wankaner.
As can be seen here there is a long rake of broad gauge wagon (to the left) fully loaded with coal from Bengal. There is also a lot of metre gauge freight waggons loaded with coal.
On every station with steam engines children will collect unburnt coal. When the engine is taking water they often clear the firebox at the same time. For this reason You can often see the children just close to the "water-horse", as can be seen on this picture from Morvi.
Every morning there is a train-meeting at Makkansar station. Fast Pass 416 has arrived from Wankaner and is waiting on track No 1, while Fast Pass 413 just arrives from Morvi on track No 2. Minutes later 416 departs for Morvi behind YP 2825 while 413 is waiting for departure behind YG 4369 ..
Finally I just wonder how long this "steam-line" will continue? Nobody knows for sure, but I know that in a very short time it will end, so if You are planning to go, go at once because it could be too late tomorrow.
One afternoon in Morvi, waiting for the departure train, I had a walk along the northern part of the station. Here I found a lot of trace from older days. Morvi must have been a very important junction once. Still there is left a small enginehouse, a working turntable and a lot of other things belonging to a railway. I should very much appreciate if someone who is familiar with this could give me some information, like trackplan if possible, which gauges, to where did the different lines radiate, which year and so on. Please use use my e-mail adress for info: email@example.com
During the day together with Andreas Noe we found a brand new hotel, along the Wankaner-Morvi road,just opposite Rafaleshwar station. It opened August this year so it is brand new. It was the nicest and cleanest hotel I have seen in India during my five visits. Full European standard in the rooms and very nice bathroom, all in a luxurious setting. But the best of all is the price which start at 590 Rupies for a a/c deluxe double room (a little cheaper single occupancy) They have a nice vegetarian restaurant and also car-rental, laundry and so on. We can both recommend this hotel, and the best bit of all is yet to come. It is a perfect base for lineside photos. It is in walking distance (15-20 min) from Rafaleshwar station and temple and also to a perfect place at the end of the "horseshoe curve". The hotel also have a hugh WATER PARK at the backside so it will be perfect to relax between the trains. Sorry to say they are still not connected with Internet (coming soon) so you have to make a phone call for reservation or drop a line. The address is DARIYALAL Resorts and Water Park, 8/A, National Highway, Rafaleshwar, Morvi-363642. Or phone (02822) 83851/52. The Hotel Manager was very nice and helpful when he show me and Andreas around, and his name is Mr Amitabh Rathore, and just ask for him when booking. This is how it looks, nice isn´t it?