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Heritage on Wheels


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  Built as a part of McLeod’s Light Railways, in the year 1917, the Katwa-Ahmadpur Narrow gauge train connected Katwa of Burdwan district with Ahmadpur of Birbhum district. It took 4 to 5 hours to travel the distance of 53 Kms. The maximum allowed speed, by the engineering division of Eastern Railways is just 15 Km per hour. McLeod and company was the subsidiary of McLeod Russell & co. ltd. Formed to construct and operate four Narrow gauge railways in the name of McLeods Light Railways. They were (1) Burdwan-Katwa Railways (2)Bankura Damodar Railways (3) Kalighat Falta Railways and (4) Katwa Ahmadpur Railways. Since its inception on 29th September 1917, it remained single track line with special crossings on 5 places. The track measured 2.6 feet or 762 mm. The train was just wooden boxes on metal structure with a few openings as doors and windows. Initially the train was powered by trendy steam engine and later replaced by diesel engines.
In the year 1966 Indian Railways took over this railway from McLeod’s and on 13th January 2013 the route was closed for conversion to Broad gauge.
These photographs were taken on 2012. The rides were nostalgic. How many can experience such ride where the driver stops his train to clear the track from grazing cattle? How many have experienced a ride where he is the only one to buy a valid ticket? Can any person predict about the earnings from this railway in a week? Just Rs. 112 ? Hawkers ply from one compartment to the other, hanging out. Students walk fast and board the running train to join school. Men and cattle travel side by side. Above all, people are different…they are not in hurry as we are always in the cities. Hence they are comfortable with this journey without complains.
I wished if it was possible to run this Heritage train side by side with the Broad gauge, at least for the purpose of tourism. This ride would have been a life time experience for many.
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