In the Age of Vande Bharat, Remembering the Steam Powered Train Engine (MG) of a Bygone Era

In the Age of Vande Bharat, Remembering the Steam Powered Train Engine (MG) of a Bygone Era

 
गुजरा हुआ जमाना आता नहीं  दोबारा  हाफिज खुदा तुम्हारा             “तनवीर नक़वी" Bygone Era of the Steam Engine History of Locomotive in Udaipur

In my mid-sixties, I consider myself to be middle aged, rather than old, as I travel and seek history the way it should be. Post-retirement, I had an enduring desire to go to my native place Mavli and stay for a month, at the least. The same was yet not fulfilled due to a few reasons.  Firstly, the ancestor house is deserted; my siblings have left the native land like myself and the house is locked. On weekends, one would go as if it is a picnic spot or in the quest of recalling the past era.  The family situation herein in this mega city is such that my partner is not interested to join for such a long period.  A small opportunity, which allows me to touch that abandoned house is not missed by me, the visit may be too small to go touch and return.

A few days ago, while booking a ticket on IRCTC, I just happened to remember my neighbor Jagdish Jat, who was a Loco Pilot. His other companion and another neighbor was one Tek Chand Lohar, who while in the last week before of his retirement, lost his life chugging a steam engine of the 9644 ADI-UDZ night express that met with an accident due to a sudden landslide that hit his power engine some 20 km from Himmatnagar in Gujarat. In the accident, only the engine got derailed, rather overturned and he lost his life. It was July 1994.

Udaipur Railway Station Mavli Junction, History of Railways in Udaipur and Mavli Loco Pilots of Steam Engines in Mavli and Udaipur the bygone era of steam engines in india MG Engine
Loco Pilot the Late Tekchand Lohar from Mavli

I have a childhood friend, neighbor, and an Air Force colleague, residing in my native place and I have been regularly interacting with him for decades now. After recalling Jagdish Kaka, a retired Loco-pilot, I informed Gopal (Air Force colleague) to connect me to Jagdish Kaka as and when possible. Jagdish Kaka, now 87 years continues with his regular evening walk from his home to the railway station, where he touches two ends of Platform No.1 and goes back to his home. In all a total 6km every day. Fit and fine at this ripe age. Yesterday, it so happened that Gopal returned from Udaipur and alighted from the train and while leaving the station he came across Jagdish Kaka.

Jagsidh Kaka Udaipur Railway Station Mavli Junction, History of Railways in Udaipur and Mavli Loco Pilots of Steam Engines in Mavli and Udaipur the bygone era of steam engines in india MG Engine
Loco Pilot 87 year old Jagdish Kaka, Mavli

He immediately rang me up and informed me as to what I wanted to ask Kaka?  Kaka was on the other end of the cell phone. Just after exchange of courtesy and salutation, I raised a question with my narration that in Meter-Gauge days with steam power, the powers in use were YP and YG series, but I did not recall which power which was smaller in size. The most powerful of the two was used in the Ghat Section between Khamlighat to MarwarJn. He was quick to respond that it was the German-origin power of RG series made in India by Telco and only six of such steam power were manufactured by TATA and no manufacturing took place after 1972.

He added that the  railway loco at my hometown Mavli Jn. became  defunct in 1996 with the eradication of steam power and induction of diesel power. The same year Jagdish Kaka retired.  Jagdish Kaka was born in 1936, six years after the commencement of the Mavli Railway station, with the opening of the Mavli Jn - Marwar Jn line. Late evening, he shared a pic of that Engine, which is incidentally not his own collection, but fetched by him from other sources.  He took a promise that as and when I visit Mavli next time, I must spare two hours for him. I said “yes” for sure.

Udaipur Railway Station Mavli Junction, History of Railways in Udaipur and Mavli Loco Pilots of Steam Engines in Mavli and Udaipur the bygone era of steam engines in india MG Engine
Loco Pilot Late SM Vijayvergia, Mavli

The steam engine loco-shed was established in Mavli in 1899 and converted into a sub-loco-shed of Phulera after the introduction of diesel power in 1997. Later, when Phulera was fully converted into a BG - Broad Gauge line station, Mavli was probably the only MG Diesel loco-shed in Rajsthan, catering to the need for Mavli Jn - Marwar Jn service. The section had two pairs of trains across 24 hours, but later reduced to only a pair of trains and with the title of special train charging express fare on passenger train having an average speed of some 21 kilometers per hour in its run of 151 kilometers.

Mavli Jn - Bari Sadri The Bygone Era, History of  Indian Railway Udaipur Railway Station, Mavli Junction
A diesel engine ready to chug goods train in Mavli Jn

Today there are 51 halting or originating trains from Mavli Jn, 29 of them are daily and 21 others run weekly or triweekly. In the past, this unique station had train timing in the morning from 0600 hrs to 1050 hrs and in the evening from 1700 hrs to 2115 hours. The long and loud whistle of steam power will wake you and also give the last whistle at 2115 hours, a signal to go to bed.

Udaipur Railway Station Mavli Junction, History of Railways in Udaipur and Mavli Loco Pilots of Steam Engines in Mavli and Udaipur the bygone era of steam engines in india MG Engine
Coach of a Steam Run Train docked at the Mavli Junction Udaipur

The brief history of various lines of Meter-gauge section of Mavli Junction - Udaipur section is as under-

  • BerachJn (near- Chittaurgarh) to Debari came into operation on 1.8.1995;
  • BerachJn to Chittaurgarh with effect from 15.8.1898;
  • Debari to present RanaPratap Nagar on 25.8.1895;
  • MavliJn to Kankroli with effect from 1.11.1930 later raised up to MarwarJn in 1942;
  • MavliJn to Kheroda with effect from 15.1.1948 later raised up to Bari Sadri in 1952.
  • M.G. Chetak Express was introduced in March, 1976.
Udaipur Railway Station Mavli Junction, History of Railways in Udaipur and Mavli Loco Pilots of Steam Engines in Mavli and Udaipur the bygone era of steam engines in india MG Engine
YP Steam Powered Engine at Rana Pratap Nagar Station, Udaipur

The trains of yester years were as under:

  • 931-932 Passenger: Chittaurgarh-Ahmedabad
  • 9943-9944 Express: Overnight express Udaipur City - Ahmedabad
  • 9615-9616 Chetak Express: Udaipur City - Delhi Sarai Rohilla
  • 251-252 passenger: Jodhpur - Udaipur City
  • 217-218 passenger: Udaipur City - Chittaurgarh
  • 221 and 222 passenger: Udaipur City - Jodhpur
  • 219 and 220 passenger: Udaipur City - Marwar Jn
  • 227-228 Mix@: Mavli Jn - Bari Sadri

@Important to note, that the Indian Railways had a concept of "Mix Trains", which was a passenger cum goods train. On this route there was a night service too. The train fare was: upto 10km Rs.2/-, upto 25km Rs. 4/-, upto 40km Rs 7/- and upto 60km Rs. 9/- in the year 1989.

YP Steam Powered Engine at Rana Pratap Nagar Station
YP Steam Powered Engine at Udaipur City Railway Station ready to chug 9943 to Ahmedabad

The Mavli Jn was unique for its Rabari-Puri (रबड़ी पूरी). On arrival of any MG trains, one would hear the nonstop shout of Rabri-Puri. These MG trains used to stop for 15 minutes and more due to crossing and also shunting of through and sectional carriage like Jodhpur-Mhow and Jodhpur-Khandawa from one track to another.

Udaipur Railway Station Mavli Junction, History of Railways in Udaipur and Mavli Loco Pilots of Steam Engines in Mavli and Udaipur the bygone era of steam engines in india MG Engine
Super Train Garib Nawaz Express Udaipur City to Jaipur MG Era

There were a number of licensed Hathlori (hand pushed carts) and also a couple of refreshment stalls. These stalls came into being in the year 1937 and the pioneer was the late Shri Jaganathji Khatri whoe family migrated from Pakistan pre-independence. Now, with the introduction of fast mail/ express trains, with a stoppage of just two minutes and raised annual license fees these refreshment stalls have lost their business and as of date, there is not a single refreshment stall. However, few Hathlorries are still in service and one can taste the famous Rabari of the bygone era.

Super  Train Garib  Nawaz Express Udaipur City to Jaipur MG Era
Om Prakash Khatri descendant of Late Jagannath Khatri last owner of refreshment stall

There was a book stall named KM Agarwal & Sons. All over IR there used to be book stalls of A H Wheeler & Co but in Nimach, Chaittaurgarh, Mavli Jn, and Udaipur City, the book stalls were owned by KM Agarwal & Sons, a family originated from Tonk.

A few more loco pilots from the MG Era at Mavli Junction whom I should not fail to mention... are Gaffar Mohammad Shani, who is 80yrs now and still going strong with his memories of the bygone era and Purushottam Joshi, who at 89 has strong memories of the era when he was the CTI at Mavli Junction.

Udaipur Railway Station Mavli Junction, History of Railways in Udaipur and Mavli Loco Pilots of Steam Engines in Mavli and Udaipur the bygone era of steam engines in india MG Engine
Gaffar Mohammad Shani (80), Retired loco-pilot, Mavli
Udaipur Railway Station Mavli Junction, History of Railways in Udaipur and Mavli Loco Pilots of Steam Engines in Mavli and Udaipur the bygone era of steam engines in india MG Engine
Purushotam Joshi (89), retired C.T.I, Mavli Jn

With the rapid growth in terms of speed and also number of trains, these memories of the MG era have since faded. We are moving fast and further. A Vande- Bharat is being pressed into service shortly. But none is there to remember the glorious bygone era of steam engines and Meter Gauge trains.

To join us on Facebook Click Here and Subscribe to UdaipurTimes Broadcast channels on   GoogleNews |  Telegram |  Signal