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Their sentiment to metre gauge train is unfathomable

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CHERISHING MEMORIES: Passengers bidding adieu to the train and its crew on Saturday.
CHERISHING MEMORIES: Passengers bidding adieu to the train and its crew on Saturday.

C. Jaishankar

Ramanathapuram: It was a mixed feeling for more than 200 passengers, who travelled on the Tambaram-Rameswaram metre gauge train, which crossed its last journey on the historic Pamban rail bridge on Saturday.

On one hand, they were happy to know that they were going to resume their journey on a broad gauge rail track within a year from now and on the other hand, they had mixed feelings that the metre gauge train, which catered to the passengers' need for the last several years, had its last trip on Saturday.

The Madurai-Dhanushkodi and Tiruchi-Dhanushkodi sections of the Southern Railway are nearly 92 years old. Those were happier times when Sri Lanka and India had extensive bilateral cooperation.

It was on the same metre gauge track, the SR operated boat mail to Chennai from Dhanushkodi. The SR also operated a ferry service called Irvin and Goschen, steamers, to take passengers from Dhanushkodi to Talaimannar in Sri Lanka.

However, the 1964 cyclone not only washed away Dhanushkodi but also vanished train track up to Rameswaram. However, the majestic Pamban Bridge commissioned in 1914 withstood the cyclone and continued to serve the metre gauge trains.

Many octogenarians and septuagenarians, who had the experience of travelling in the boat mail in those days, lined up at various stations, including Ramanathapuram, Pamban and Rameswaram, on Saturday to bid adieu to the last train on the metre gauge.

While some people recollected the memories of the olden days, others garlanded the engine driver Paulraj and his deputy Palpandi, who were on duty on the last train on MG track.

"It may be the end of the saga of MG track. But, the BG track will not only create another saga but also help to transform the backward area into a developed area," said Mr. Paulraj to passengers.

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