Shakuntala Railway: The one train line in India still owned by a British firm Killick-Nixon

Shakuntala Railway is a 2ft (610 mm) Narrow Gauge Railway line between Yavatmal and Achalpur in Maharashtra in Central India.

The train which travels a distance of 190 kms in about four hours is the lifeline for the people of Yavatmal and Achalpur (Amravati district) of Maharashtra.

Do you know that there is still a small hold of British Raj in the Indian Railways? All of the Indian Railways got nationalised in the year 1951 except the narrow gauge line of Shakuntala Railways.

The railway, which is named after the queen of Vidarbha, still runs on a narrow guage railway network.

Highlights

  • Central Province Railway opened this narrow gauge line, Shakuntala Railway, in 1910, which is owned by a British firm Killick-Nixon.
  • The company built this line mainly for the shipment of cotton from Yavatmal to Mumbai
  • Earlier, it was run by a ZD-steam engine marked ‘made in Liverpool’ which was put in service in 1923. Presently, this passenger train is run by a diesel engine
  • The railway network named after the queen of Vidarbha, the eastern part of Maharashtra that comprises of Nagpur division and Amravati division
  • This narrow guage line originates from Mumbai-Nagpur-Calcutta broad gauge line (Murtizapur junction, Kolkata).
  • The British company still charges more than a crore per year from Indian Railways for running a train on these tracks
  • The train travels 190 km in about four hours. It is the cheapest mode of transport for the people of Amravati district which costs around Rs 25 for a single trip
  • The journey gives you the pleasure of beautiful scenic beauty of country side as the train passes through beautiful hills and plateaus
  • The train is the lifeline for the people of Yavatmal and Achalpur (Amravati district) of Maharashtra.

Killick, Nixon and Company, set up in 1857, created the Central Provinces Railway Company (CPRC) to act as its agents. The company built the 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) narrow gauge line in 1903. The company built this narrow gauge line in 1903 to carry cotton from cotton-rich interior areas of Vidarbha to the Murtajapur Junction on main broad gauge line to Mumbai from where it was shipped to Manchester in England. Murtajapur Junction was the focal point of this railway. Though, working autonomously, the CPRC was grouped in 1952 under the Central Railways. A ZD-steam engine, built in 1921 in Manchester, pulled the train for more than 70 long years after being put in service in 1923. It was withdrawn on 15 April 1994, and replaced by a diesel engine.

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