NEW DELHI: Britishers may have left India in 1947, but they still own a 190-km long railway line in India, in Maharashtra. And India still pays the British Rs 1 crore every year to use this rail line.
There are two villages in Maharashtra – Yavatmal and Murtijapur – which are connected by a narrow gauge railway line called Shakuntala Railways. This line was constructed during the British time. The Great Indian Peninsular Railway (GIPR), which ran throughout Central India before Independence, operated trains on this track.
For some strange reason, this route was ignored when the Railways was nationalised in 1952 and the entire country’s tracks came under it. In 1910, Killick-Nixon, a private British company set up Shakuntala Railways and the company still owns the tracks that it had installed in 19th century.
Shakuntala Railways operates one round trip every day. The journey between the two villages in the Amravati district takes about 20 hours. For the underprivileged who commute between these two villages in Maharashtra, the train is their lifeline. A ZD-steam engine made in Manchester in 1921 powered the train for more than 70 years.
In 1994, a diesel motor was installed to replace the original engine. The Central Province Railway Company was established as the result of the company’s joint venture with the British colonial administration in India.
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