Plays a vital role in steering ahead the economic growth of Western India
Western Railway celebrates 69th Foundation Day on 5th November, 2019 organising various activities at every division and stations. It Plays a vital role in steering ahead the economic growth of Western India and holds various records in its kitty of being a PIONEER.
Right from the introduction of world’s 1st ladies special train in May, 1992 to introduction of India’s 1st fully air-conditioned suburban train in December 2017. From India’s first railway station with Green Building Certification from the date of inception coming up at Kevadiya – the railhead connecting Statue of Unity to setting up India’s first National Rail and Transportation Institute (NRTI) at Vadodara.
W. Rly has time and again proved its mettle, through its long journey, ever since its birth in the British era in 1850s. After making its mark, both nationally and internationally through various important achievements, Western Railway is all geared to celebrate its 69th Foundation Day on 5th November, 2019. Serving the financial capital of the country i.e. Mumbai along with western parts of the country, as a strong medium of public transport, Western Railway has benefited the Nation not only in its financial and industrial development but also has played a vital role in national integration.
Through Western Railway’s rail services and facilities, it has connected many places and hearts which has brought people closer in social togetherness and created a sense of national integrity among all. On its 69th Foundation Day, it becomes pertinent to look in retrospect the many achievements and milestones Western Railway has achieved in all these years in boosting the country’s economy.
According to a press release issued by WR CPRO Ravinder Bhakar, W. Rly has achieved many milestones, since its humble beginning. Western Railway in its present form came into existence on 5th November, 1951 by the merger of its forerunner, the erstwhile Bombay, Baroda and Central India Railway (BB&CI), with other State Railways viz, Saurashtra, Rajputana and Jaipur. The BB&CI Railway was inaugurated in 1855, starting with the construction of a 29 mile broad gauge track from Ankleshwar to Utran in Gujarat state on the West Coast with Surat as its headquarters then. In the year 1863, it was shifted to Bombay.
Earlier, the proposal to lay a new line upto Bombay was considered unnecessary initially. It was Mount Stuart Elphinstone, the Governor of Bombay who put forward this case as beneficial to the Empire. He pointed out that the new line would connect Bombay with the rich Gujarat province and it was found worthwhile to ship cotton from Bombay. WR has made a valuable contribution in the fast socio-economic and overall development of Bombay (Mumbai), Gujarat and the western regions of the country.
Various projects to improve the connectivity and to provide faster services to the passengers such as the work of introducing semi high speed and high speed trains are in the pipeline. Some of the prestigious trains including Mahamana Express, Humsafar Express, Rajdhani Express, Shatabdi Express, Duronto Express and AC Double Decker Express trains are run from Western Railway. Presently, W. Rly operates 324 Mail / Express trains, 310 Passengers and one of the largest suburban networks in the world, serving 37 stations carrying 3.5 million commuters (approx.) every day with 1367 train services in Mumbai alone. Hence, it is aptly called the lifeline of Mumbai Metropolis.
Western Railway has grown with the city of Mumbai and Mumbai city has grown with Western Railway and has been the cynosure of the development of the city of Mumbai. The Mumbai Suburban System of Western Railway extends from Churchgate to Dahanu Road. The present jurisdiction of Western Railway is in 6 divisions of Mumbai Central, Vadodara, Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Bhavnagar and Ratlam with a total rail network of 6519.36 route kms.
Bhakar further stated that Western Railway is always enroute towards progress and development to facilitate passengers in fresh new ways. It is leaving no stone unturned to ensure a pleasant travelling experience its valuable passengers while at station and also in train. Under the leadership of A. K. Gupta – General Manager of W. Rly, many infrastructural works like New lines, Doubling, Gauge Conversion, Station redevelopment, Dedicated Freight Corridor, electrification work were accorded priority and has been completed on war footing as well as are in progress across all divisions.
The ambitious project and dream of Prime Minister Narendra Modi of running the Bullet train in India is taking shape step by step and will be a reality in the next couple of years. The Mumbai – Ahmedabad High Speed Rail Corridor (MAHSRC) project will take travelling experience altogether to another level. The opening of 307 km electrified double line linking Udhna in Surat district of Gujarat to Jalgaon district in North Maharashtra was commissioned on 22nd July, 2018 has provided a fillip to growth in areas falling under this rail section which was neglected since years. This newly opened line has adding a new chapter in the series of accomplishments, thereby contributing to the basic infrastructure of Western Railway.
The commissioning of the doubling and electrification of Udhna – Jalgaon section has benefitted passengers, as well as freight at a large scale. A new Broad gauge line between Chhota Udepur in Gujarat and Dhar in Madhya Pradesh is under progress wherein a section of 48.55 kms of new line upto Alirajpur has been completed and has been opened for movement of passenger and goods trains. With this, areas upto Alirajpur on this line will get connected with Vadodara thereby with Mumbai – Ahmedabad/Delhi main line. It will provide impetus to the socio economic development of the tribal areas around Alirajpur. Also, Mahesana – Vadnagar (33.43 kms) work has been completed and passenger trains services commenced over these sections. People from this area will get access to better job and education opportunities due to fast & convenient mode of transport upto Vadodara and further.
Other projects commissioned includes the Patan – Bhildi new line which provides shortest route to various destinations of North West Rly and Northern Rly, the Ahmedabad and Himmatnagar section (87.5 kms), which is part of Ahmedabad – Himmatnagar – Udaipur Gauge conversion work has been successfully completed. The agricultural production will also be benefitted with faster movement of produce to the markets all over India. The production of world famous mango Noor Jahan of Alirajpur will also get a boost due to better reach to markets and consumers. These projects will provide better connectivity to the isolated places of the region but it will also improve the local economy and socio-economic development of the surrounding areas.
Bhakar informed that India is home to the world’s tallest statue – the Statue of Unity and it is already garnering a huge fan base with thousands of tourists thronging this iconic monument and enjoy the scenic and panaromic beauty of the Narmada Valley, not only from India but across the world. Indian Railways has taken one step ahead to put this engineering marvel on the railmap of India by constructing a new world class and ultra modern railway station at Kevadiya. The proposed Kevadiya railway station is located just 5 Km from the ‘Statue of Unity’ and will cater as an easy access railhead point for the tourists visiting this iconic statue.
Continuing with several projects at hand, Western Railway developed Chhayapuri station which was a flag station near Vadodara Junction as a new satellite station to serve as an additional station for Vadodara city for trains running on Ahmedabad – Ratlam route and ease the congestion of Vadodara station. Chhayapuri station will become fully operational from 17th December, 2019 onwards and to begin with Western Railway has decided to divert 13 important trains which will be given stoppage at Chhayapuri station.
Other major infrastructural project in the pipeline is the work of complete overhauling and re-development of Surat station into a Multi – Modal Transportation Hub (MMTH) and the redevelopment of Gandhinagar Capital station as a world class station along with development of a 300 room hotel in the air space of the station. Western Railway also boasts of the “National Rail and Transportation Institute” – India’s first Deemed to be Rail University under the de novo category.
The idea of setting up the Rail and Transportation University was conceptualized by PM Narendra Modi and spearheaded by Minister of Railways Piyush Goyal. This vision became a reality on 5th of September, 2018 on the auspicious occasion of Teacher’s Day, when the National Rail and Transportation Institute (NRTI) opened its doors to the first batch of 103 students from across 20 states of India, in two fully-residential undergraduate courses. This institution focuses on imparting transport related education, multi-disciplinary research and training and to create a resource pool of best-in-class professionals for the railway and transportation sector.
Bhakar stated that Western Railway is aligning itself to the Railway Board directives for transparency, efficiency and ease of doing business. UTS App has been launched for the convenience of passengers of not having to visit the Ticket booking counter and also a major thrust to Digital India initiatives. “RAIL MADAD” a new portal has been introduced for redressal of Complaints. ‘NO BILL NO PAYMENT’ campaign has been undertaken on a massive scale to ensure issuance of bills to passengers by all entities in Railways thereby promoting transparency.
Inorder to provide an enhanced travelling experience to our valued passengers, W. Rly has turned out 19 UTKRISHT rakes which is the highest number in Indian Railways during the year 2018-19. Under Project “SWARN”, 8 Rakes of Rajdhani Express and Shatabdi Express were upgraded. Also, one “ANUBHUTI COACH” with aircraft like features has been attached to Shatabdi Express.
Western Railway takes pride in its rich legacy and takes every step to conserve this treasure trove through its various rail heritage museums, be it, heritage buildings, yesteryear locomotives, artifacts and others. In this direction, W. Rly declared the 150 year old meter gauge line between Patalpani & Kalakund as Heritage section and introduced a special heritage train between Patalpani and Kalakund stations. This heritage train has become an instant hit amongst both, the national as well as international tourists.
Similarly, W. Rly is pursuing various measures for promotion of green energy and cleaner enviornment. Various measures have been adopted in this direction to contribute for a cleaner and sustainable public transportation without any adverse impact on environment. Solar Panels, Bottle Crushing Machines, Solid Waste Management Plants, Provision of LED lights have been set up across W. Rly in accomplishment of this initiative. The Swachh Rail, Swachh Bharat Mission also goes hand in hand with the above intiative. 374 stations are being cleaned on contract basis, out of which, 128 stations are under mechanized cleaning and 246 stations are under semi mechanised/manual cleaning and rest are cleaned departmentally. Beautification of 64 stations of W. Rly has been done through participation of local artist, volunteers or private groups.
On its foundation day Western Railway always believed in “Serving Customers with a Smile” and will always stay true to its motto by putting into practice the three fundamental principles of Safety, Service and Speed in all its endeavours in the future years to come.