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Shakuntala Express: Only train to run under British company even in Independent India 

Maharashtra Vidarbha region’s Shakuntala Express was British India ‘s privately owned Indian train, established by Killick ,Nixon and Company in the year 1903 which till 2016 was managed by British company. Vidhi Mathur reports…

Before independence era, under the Central  Railway Province, the train’s primarily role was transportation of cotton to England. This narrow gauge passenger train with approximately 2.6 ft  railway track line was collateral to the British company .

However in the year 2016, Indian railway proposed to take over it and converted it into broad gauge. 

The train visit covers 190 km stretched railway line covering stations from Yawatmal to Achalpur in approximately four hours. Achalpur being a cotton rich area is the main source for cotton production. From here all required cotton was collected. Through the broader Gauge route, it was then destined to Mumbai. Finally this cotton was then exported to the British via Ships. During 1950s, when India Railways were nationalised, Shakuntala Railway was the only exception.

Even till 2016, Shakuntala Express  was  under British Government  rule  to which  Indian Railways would give royalty of approximately 1.2 cr per annum.  Its maximum permissible speed was calculate to be 20 Km/hr thus covering the journey of 190 km in  20-21 hours.

This train used to run on 1924’s Manchester made Z-D steam engines only which were later replaced by diesel steam engine in the year 1994. Unfortunately  the improper maintenance of the railways and bushes and dense grasses made the railway tracks functioning impossible. This eventually caused the government to shut down the narrow gauge train’s services in 2020. .

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