The Natuwadi Tunnel is one of the 91 tunnels that you can pass through while traveling on the Konkan Railways’ route. The 4.7 km tunnel is the second longest tunnel on the route after the Karbude Tunnel. The tunnel is part of the beautiful curvy route of the Konkan Railways going through the hills of the lush green Western Ghats.
Construction of the Natuwadi Tunnel and the Konkan Rail Line
The Natuwadi Tunnel is built between Karanjadi and Diwan Khavati railway stations in the Maharashtra section of the Konkan rail line. The Konkan railway route was constructed to connect the west coast cities of Mumbai and Mangalore. Before the rail project was executed, there did not exist any railway line to connect the coastal towns of West India. There was either a travel by road option or trains running through inland India, which meant a lot of travel time.
In 1989 the work to lay the Konkan Railway Line was started. There were many challenges faced by the Railway engineering team to construct the route on the rough mountainous terrain. It took almost eight years to build the rail stretch covering Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka region. Ninety-one tunnels and around two thousand bridges were built on the curvaceous route. The Natuwadi Tunnel is the sixth tunnel on the route also named as T-6, if you travel from the Mumbai end.
The Western Ghat Terrain is quite uneven with slopes and hills. It was necessary to level the uneven surface so as to build the rail track. The Natuwadi Tunnel was planned and built to level the line between the Karanjadi station and Diwan Khavati station. It was a challenge to build the tunnel because of the weather conditions and other issues. Special digging equipment was imported from Sweden to excavate the of the moist and loose soil of the Ghats.
The unpredictable landscape of Western Ghats with steep rocks, rivers, rivulets, sandy soil, made work very difficult for the engineering team. Sometimes during the excavation process, the tunnel would cave in and the process had to be repeated. Many safety measures had also to be designed because of the falling rocks and loose boulders. In fact, heavy rains and land sliding is a major issue on the Konkan railway route during monsoons.
In 2004, there was a derailment accident just near the Natuwadi Tunnel near Karanjadi, caused by land sliding. But the team of efficient railway engineers are working to better the experience of the commuters. That is the reason, in record time of eight years the entire railway line of 738 kms was built including the tunnels and bridges under the leadership of India’s famous railway man Dr. E Sreedharan. The Konkan rail route is single track and operational for both passenger and freight trains.
Experience travelling through the Natuwadi Tunnel
The Konkan rail route is not only a picturesque track but also represents the amazing abilities of India’s engineers. If you want to experience a journey through this fascinating rail route and cross the Natuwadi Tunnel, then just book a train ticket of Konkan Railways. From Mumbai side, the Natuwadi station starts just after Karanjadi and ends before Diwan Khavati station.
A train ride on multiple bridges and passing through dark tunnels amidst the lush green landscape of Western Ghats will certainly be refreshing. You will admire Mother Nature’s bounty and appreciate the efforts of India’s engineers.
Photo by LunchboxLarry