End of a much loved railway - Narrow gauge around Nagpur

Padma Shree and Padma Bhushan awardee Sir Mark Tully, a rail enthusiast, commemorates this love for the railways.

By Rail Enthusiasts' Society

Sir Mark Tully

A view of present-day Howrah StationHeritage Directorate, Indian Railways

"Out of the number of things I have done, I have written a lot on the Railway. I wrote an article for BBC, recalling my travel experience on the Satpura narrow gauge Railway when it was on the verge of conversion to broad gauge.

I even wrote the introduction to the books by Vinoo Mathur, called, Buildings Bridges and Black Beauties of Northern Railway.

In 1996, I made a documentary on the Bombay-Howrah Mail."

A steam and a diesel locomotive of the Nilgiri Mountain Railway by Sir Mark TullyRail Enthusiasts' Society

"Back in the days, the rail attendants used to make the bed in First Class AC coaches in Nilgiri Express, that ran from Chennai to Mettupalayam."

A train passes over the bridge, surrounded by luscious habitat by Sir Mark TullyRail Enthusiasts' Society

"One of the decisions that had been taken by the Chairman of the Railway Board, Mr. M. S. Gujral, to do away with piece-meal loading and only book full trains, was inevitable but sad, as one of the most picturesque of train operations was shunting."

Diesel Locomotive Shed at Nainpur by Sir Mark TullyRail Enthusiasts' Society

In the picture: A diesel locomotive shed at Nainpur.

"Many of the passengers described the railway as their lifeline. Now that lifeline has been cut. Many railway officials are deeply saddened by the death of the Satpura lines. A stationmaster at Nainpur junction, the heart of the system, asked me, "Why do they have to close such a busy railway?"

Passengers sit cross-legged on the carriage roof by Sir Mark TullyRail Enthusiasts' Society

"The Satpura Railway's narrow gauge line was popular for its outstanding beauty, particularly when it twists like a snake following the contours of a thick, hilly forest.

The line will be replaced by a broad gauge line which is being bulldozed through that forest. Fast through-trains with few or no stops will run now on the broad gauge. But the railways are hoping to preserve a short section of the historic Satpura lines."

Sir Mark Tully at his residence at New Delhi by Sir Mark TullyRail Enthusiasts' Society

About Sir Mark Tully

Born in Tollygunge, Calcutta, on the 24th of October, 1935, Sir William Mark Tully, KBE, has spent more time in India than in the United Kingdom, the nationality he retains. Sir Mark wears many hats: one of the bigger ones is that of a rail enthusiast. In 1994, he presented an episode of BBC's Great Railway Journeys "Karachi to the Khyber Pass", travelling by train across Pakistan. Since that year, he has been working as a freelance journalist and broadcaster, based in New Delhi. 

Sir Mark, a rail enthusiast, on an inspection trolley by Sir Mark TullyRail Enthusiasts' Society

Sir Mark Tully was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1985 and was awarded the Padma Shree in 1992. He was knighted in the New Year Honours 2002, receiving a KBE, and in 2005 he received the Padma Bhushan. In 1985, he was awarded the Richard Dimbleby Award of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) for lifelong achievement.

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