The International Steam Pages

Once upon a time, long ago,
From Nowhere to Nowhere via Very Little
Another trip on the Indian Narrow Gauge, 1985

Wilson Lythgoe has been circulating friends with some steam pictures taken some time back and with his permission and encouragement they are reproduced on these pages and will be added to from time to time. Click here for the index.

On the Western Railway of India there was once a 2'6" gauge line running from Joravarnagar to Sayla. Joravarnagar was a small wayside station on a secondary metre gauge line in Gujarat. Sayla was a small walled town 28 kilometres away through dry scrubby country and between the two were a number of wayside halts serving the local communities. In effect from nowhere to nowhere via very little! The line had been built in 1948 and by the time of my January 1985 visit the service consisted of two passenger trains each way daily. There was no sign of any freight or freight wagons on the line.

Motive power consisted of two T class 4-8-0: one to run the train and one in reserve. Originally built for the Bhavnagar - Mahuva Tramway (hence the classification T) only four T's were ever built. The first came from Hannoversche Maschinenbau of Germany in 1925. It must have done the job though as over the next ten years another three were obtained from from British builders Bagnall(2) and Hudswell Clarke (1). Eventually the locos were transferred to other NG sections where their 5 ton axle load was particularly suitable.

I was staying at Surendranagar and a taxi took me the few kilometres further on to Joravarnagar station and the start of the narrow gauge. There was a problem though: standing on the Joravarnagar platform there was absolutely no sign of any NG line. Found someone with sufficient English to ask and was told to cross the metre gauge lines and then head thru the scrub! A short bush bash and success: class leader T600, the original loco from Germany, was found waiting to leave with the mid morning train.

It soon became obvious that the trip was going to be a slow trundle with sufficient time at station stops to get out and use the camera. At Khaladiyad, which was just a station sign in the scrub, travellers head for home whilst keeping an eye on what I was getting up too.

A longer stop at Rampura gave the driver time to oil round and myself time to check out the local belles.

Journey's end at Sayla: a substantial station and yard with the township a couple of kilometres further on. The loco depot was here so I presume the loco crews were based here also. Guards, on the other hand, lived in towns at the Joravarnagar end of the line and overnighted at Sayla.

A major shunting operation then took place with the carriages being moved around the yard so the guards van could be positioned at the rear of the train. Next the auxiliary water tender needed to be positioned between the loco and the carriages. There were no turning facilities on the line so from Sayla back to Joravarnagar was a tender first run. The auxiliary tender looks as if it could have been an engine tender itself at one stage.....I wonder which class.

600 in close up. A good looking looking machine!


The last mention of this line in CRJ was in number 75 from Autumn 1988: "'The Joravarnagar - Sayla line was closed in October 1987. The closure was apparently caused by the failure of the monsoon in 1987, and may prove to be temporary." 

From an internet search I found that in reply to a February 2003 question asked in the Indian Parliament the Minister of Railways replied: 'Joravarnagar-Sayla rail line has been dismantled long back.'

Rob Dickinson