Vadodara: The gauge conversion work on the Ankleshwar-Rajpipla railway route in Gujarat is nearing completion and it will become operational this year.
According to Mahesh Kumar, General Manager, Western Railway, passenger trains will begin running on this route of Vadodara Division, from March as the work is almost over.
Rail movement on this line was suspended after floods in Karjan river damaged a railway bridge at Rajpipla in late 70s following which running trains on the narrow gauge became uneconomical.
The existing 63-km narrow gauge line between Ankleshwar —an industrial town in Bharuch — and Rajpipla — the headquarters of Narmada — passes through tribal-dominated areas of Jhagadia, Umalla, Rajuwadia and Amletha, which has been demanding completion of this conversion for long.
This gauge conversion will also give a boost to small and medium scale industries at Rajpipla, which is 15 kms away from the Sardar Sarovar dam across Narmada river at Kevadiya.
The project on the Ankleshwar-Rajpipla line was approved in 2006 during the tenure of Naranbhai Rathwa, then Union Minister of State for Railways. Rajpipla is part of the reserved Chhotaudepur Parliamentary constituency which was represented by Rathwa in Lok Sabha.
Now this seat is occupied by Ramsingh Rathwa, a tribal leader belonging to BJP.
The tenders for the line gauge conversion were invited in August 2008 for undertaking works on the Rs 196.97 crore project but it took more than four years for completion.
The gauge conversion project will connect four stations on Ankleshwar-Jhagadia-Rajpipla route to the national rail network.
It was Maharana Chhatrasinhji, the 35th Gohil Raja of Rajpipla, who after coming to power in 1897 built a small narrow gauge line from Ankleshwar to Rajpipla and opened it for railway traffic in 1899.