Vadodara, Oct 2 (UNI) Minister of State for Railways Narayan Rathwa today flagged off the first train on the newly converted Broad Gauge line between Vadodara and Dabhoi, a section of Asia's oldest narrow gauge Vadodara-Chhotaudepur rail line.
Speaking at a function at Dabhoi station, the minister congratulated the railway engineers and officials for completing BG conversion of the 30 km long track in a record time of 30 months. He said the conversion of the remaining 70 km narrow gauge line from Dabhoi to Chhotaudepur would be done in another 18 months with an expenditure of Rs 250 crore. The first phase of Vadodara-Dabhoi BG project had cost Rs 80 crore.
In September 2005, Railway minister Lalu Prasad had laid the foundation stone for the 100 km conversion project at Chhotaudepur, the tribal-dominated constituency of his deputy Mr Rathwa.
The narrow gauge rail line, said to be the oldest in Asia, was laid some 125 years ago by the Gaekwads, the then rulers of the princely State of Baroda.
Stating that work had already started for land acquisition, line alignment and soil testing for connecting Chhotaudepur with Indore via the remote areas of Jhabua and Dhar, Mr Rathwa said when completed, this rail project would go a long way in uplifting the socio-economic condition of the poor tribal people living in the region.
Listing various developmental plans of the Railways for Gujarat, Rathwa said in the last four-and-a-half years his ministry had spent over Rs 3,500 crore on different Railway projects and it had on-going projects worth Rs 66,000 crore in the state.
He also announced his ministry's decision to run a new train between Surat and Mahuva in Saurashtra from October 19.
Rathwa further said construction work for the proposed Rs 300 crore Electrical Engine Repair Workshop would start at Dabhoi after the monsoon. The ministry had also sanctioned Rs seven crore for the seventh platform for Vadodara station, he added.
Addressing the gathering on the occasion, two union ministers Shankarsinh Waghela and Dinsha Patel spoke highly of Lalu Yadav and his deputy Narayan Rathwa for the Railways' success story. They also thanked the ministry for charging Rs five from passengers travelling 30 km, from Vadodara to Dabhoi.
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