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Shakuntala Railway Line: The Only private Railway line in India


A relic from the colonial era, the Shakuntala express runs on India’s only line not owned by the Government. While the Shakantula line is a 190 km narrow-gauge. The Shakuntala Express runs between Achalpur and Yavatmal only at an average speed of 20 km per hour covering 190 km. In the era of private railroad companies.

A British firm called Killick-Nixon founded Shakuntala Railways in 1910. After independence, the Killick-Nixon firm moved from British to Indian hands and so did the Central Province Railway Company (CPRC). A joint venture of the colonial British government and Killick Nixon that looked after the tracks in the Vidarbha region due to reasons that are still unclear.

The Shakuntala line was never nationalized like the rest of the Railways. The track currently falls under the Bhusawal division of the Central Railways. Yet the Central Railways has to pay a royalty to CRPC to use the line! There is no railway staff at most of the stations. Hence, these tracks are the only ones in the country where the guards double up as ticket clerks! Although people have the option to use a faster means of transport. This stretch between Achalpur and Yavatmal is still many times cheaper to take making it the lifeline of many people in the region!

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