City gives a warm send-off to its last `chhoti line’ local
Thunderous applause to which the 130-year-old Century Express was received at BKT railway station by hundreds of those who had gathered at the only platform of its halt station on Saturday eve ning was reciprocated by those travelling in it. Everybody knew it was the last run of the metre-gauge train and they all cheered its last passengers.From Sunday , the Century Express will run no more, besides pairs of ten other meter-gauge trains on the track.
BKT railway station witnessed a historical moment on Saturday . Milling crowds, baskets packed with fruits, especially watermelons which are a speciality of Bakshi Ka Talab (BKT), balloons assorted in perfect colour combination and `mithaipacks’, made it seem as if a VIP was arriving and the railway station was cleaned thoroughly for the occasion. Railway pointsman J P Dixit said, “Aaj train ki bidaai hai (it’s the train’s farewell today).“ Rubbing the arrivaldeparture time of Aishbagh-Mailani meter gauge trains from the blackboard outside station master’s cabin, he looked nostalgic as the train got signal for its last run. The timings of the only train that remained on the black-board were of Mailani-Aishbagh-Gonda passenger, another `chhoti line’ train that also was the last to run on the track.
“I will retire in November but I have boarded these trains to college as did my forefathers,“ he said. Aishbagh-Sitapur-MailaniPilibhit section has been closed for gauge conversion and there would now be no meter-gauge trains running on it. BKT railway station established in 1886 has never been without 11 pair of metre-gauge trains including Rohillkhand express, Century express, Nainital express, Agra Fort, Aishbagh-Tinsukia, Aishbagh-Mailani and Aishbagh-Pilibhit passengers.But Sunday , it will have no railway sirens renting the air.
“We decided only two days back that we should show our love for these trains. After all, we all have boarded them all our lives right from our school days,“ said journalist Nagendra Singh Chauhan. He never knew his appeal shared on 45 members of his Whatsapp group would bring hundreds of people to BKT station on Saturday . There were men, women, children, old and young who shared Chauhan’s sentiments and had come to bid adieu to the trains.
In sync with their sentiments, people decorated the platform and the Aishbagh-Mailani-Gonda passenger with balloons, distributed water bottles to passengers, gave mementos to crew and also took selfies with the train.
“4am train was like an alarm to me, I woke up to the sound of its whistle. Now, that would be no more,“ said Shakuntala Devi, who has lived for decades in the Bargadi Mangath village, closest to the station. “Often, when we used to sing while aboard the train, we always felt the koyla-paani (steam) engine was singing with us,“ said local resident Awanish Singh.
Source:Times Of India