New Delhi: In a shift from its plans to convert all of metre-gauge into broad-gauge ones, the Indian Railways have decided to preserve five of its metre-gauge lines across the country and run them as heritage lines. These lines are linked to tourist destinations and were earlier identified for gauge conversion, but now will be retained as heritage lines.
The lines to be preserved include sections in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Assam, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat.
The most important among them is the around 30-km-long Mhow-Kalakund rail line in Madhya Pradesh, which will be used solely for tourism purposes. This rail route passes through the picturesque hills and the valleys of the Vindhyachal mountain range and will draw tourists to the Patalpani waterfall.
Another 120-km section has been identified in Assam — the Mahur Harangajao meter gauge — in the hill section of the North Cachar Hill district (now called Dima Hasao district).
The line, which will now be preserved, is unique for the presence of numerous tunnels in the section that still stand out as architectural marvels.
Another line which has been identified by the ministry as having the potential to be developed as a tourism line is the 171-km Nanpara-Mailani section in Uttar Pradesh. It runs through the Dudhwa national park.
Around a 50-km meter-gauge line which passes through the Gir Forest in Gujarat will also be preserved along with about a 70- km Marwar-Udaipur metre-gauge railway section falling in the bio-diversity sanctuary of Todgarh Raoli.
These are picturesque stretches which can be enjoyed by tourists and are unique to India. Maybe an eco-tourism safari can be planned around it. All these sections have sharp bends, tunnels which have immense tourism potential.
The Railway ministry is also contemplating if these heritage trains can be such that tourists can enjoy the scenery through large glass windows and ceilings like those in Switzerland.