It was on 31 December 2016 that the meter gauge express train and other passenger trains running between Udaipur and Ahmedabad had their last run. A long period of 5 years ahs elapsed since then. The Indian Railways had given a green signal to the gauge conversion exercise on this route, which would facilitate a direct connection of South Rajasthan to Ahmedabad, Mumbai and further down south once the Broad Gauge was in place.
More than 5 years have passed and yet, Udaipur and South Rajasthan are still waiting for the broad gauge line for Ahmedabad, Mumbai, and South India. Indian Railways is still busy completing the tunnels-related work and laying the rails between Zawar Mines and Udaipur. The work is on-going, but at snail's pace. It was expected that the work of this ambitious project would be completed in a maximum period of four years, however, COVID-19 coupled with the lethargy seen in implementing such projects, the exercise has yet to see the light of day.
Meanwhile, even after the completion of the work of gauge conversion from Ahmedabad to Dungarpur section in April 2021, due to the lockdown and more specifically lack of coordination between North Western Railway and Western Railway, the operation of this section of a DEMU train could start only from 15 February this year.
As a wanderer, I explored this train and its journey and found that the timing of the DEMU train is not apt. It begins from Ahmedabad's suburban station Asarwa at 10 am and reaches Dungarpur at 2 pm. The return journey begins from Dungarpura at 2:15 pm. I find that the timing is not apt for traffic hence this train is not seeing the kind of traffic that was envisaged. Ideally, the DEMU should have originated from Dungarpur in the morning and returned in the evening; else a DEMU each from both sides in the morning and evening were required. This service is not getting enough traffic due to lack of a favorable timetable.
However, this incomplete journey is also a positive sign and in the near future, the much-awaited trains will run from Ahmedabad to Udaipur, Udaipur to Mumbai and other South India destinations. Perhaps while waiting for this gauge conversion to materialize, trains like Okha-Ahmedabad and Udaipur-Mysuru Humsafar, which were closed during the Covid-19 pandemic, have not been pushed back into the service.
The incomplete journey of Asarwa- Dungarpur DEMU will pave the way for the complete journey to Udaipur in the near future, and hopefully, the North Western Railway shall understand its social responsibility for which it should work on a war footing. This will be a big achievement having been ignored for decades, where the service should start this summer despite the delay. If this is not possible, then after the arrival of the monsoon, the train operation shall automatically be delayed till post-Diwali.