Category: Special Trains

Shakuntala Railway, History of India’s Only Privately Held Railway Line

The Greatest by product of colonial era that British rulers left for us is the Indian Railways. From Architecture of Railway stations to design of trains, everything has shadows of English rule.

It sounds surprising to many, but even after 70 years of independence, there is still one tiny part of Railway Network that our Indian Railway doesn’t owns.

Shakuntala Railway History
Old Lever from British Era Image Source: IRFCA


The Shakuntala Express, sounds so Indian but you can still see a ‘made in Liverpool’ tag on it.

Shakuntala Railway was founded by a British firm called Killick-Nixon, In 1910. This private firm in a joint venture with the colonial British government in India gave birth to the Central Province Railway Company (CPRC), for planning and assembling railway tracks to be used for transportation of cotton from Vidarbha, & finally to Manchester, England. The trains started running on tracks in 1916 and soon it was started for carrying passengers too.

During British rule The trains on this track were run by Great Indian Peninsular Railway (GIPR) which operated in Central India till Independence. Shakuntala Railway is still owned by CPRC, presumably because the government of the day simply forgot to nationalise it, and CRPC is still owned by Killick-Nixon, a British firm. Even though Killick-Nixon has since transferred from British to Indian control, but still it runs privately on Indian Tracks without government’s intervention!

This Track is a part of Bhusaval Division of Central Railway but the Murtazapur – Yavatmal (113 km) and the Murtazapur – Achalpur (76 km) railway tracks are still owned by CPRC.

Shakuntala Railway
Image Source: IRFCA

Unlike most railway lines in India that uses broad gauge lines, the Shakuntala Railway route still uses narrow gauge lines and makes just one return journey every day. At present, the train takes runs with speed 20 Km/hr and covers the 190 KM distance between Yavatmal and Achalpur in Amravati district of Maharashtra. On other hand bus takes 6 hours for the same journey and costs Rs 150. Despite of the fact that this train is time taking, poor Villagers still prefer this train over bus because of its affordable tickets.

Central Railway which runs the trains on these tracks Pays royalty to its private partner and CPRC. Since Independence, this contract has been renewed 6 times (which means in every 10 years).

This legacy of colonial rule may soon be a part of history as Government of India is very soon going to take over Shakuntala Railway. Union Railway Minister, Suresh Prabhu has recently cleared a budget of Rs 1,500 crore for transforming the narrow gauge Yavatmal-Murtizapur-Achalpur railway line into broad gauge.

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About Humsafar Express – Train of A Better India Welcomes You

What would you like to sip during your next journey these winters? Soup, Tea or Coffee? Humsafar Express is equipped with a vending machine for all. Humsafar Express Train is in buzz since it is launched on 9 December by Railway Minister, Suresh Prabhu.

Indian Railways is the lifeline of country and among the busiest in the world, it has pressure to perform in all aspects which include technology, capacity, facilities, speed and design. Of course the respective ministry announced cleanliness campaign called ‘Swachh rail, Swachh bharat’ and you can see a significant effect on Railway platforms but still the reality is not hidden from us, all stakeholders understand that we need to work harder on our railway system to meet global standards.

Humsafar Express Interior
Image Source: Financial Express

From time to time Indian Railways has come up with Trains in various segments which include Luxury Trains, Hospital Trains, High Speed Trains and Special Trains Between Specific Stations. Even we were very excited last year when railways launched the fastest train of India, Gatimaan Express.

Humsafar Express is again a breath of fresh air in this motive and the ‘Rail Budget Promise’ according to Mr. Prabhu; this train has many features that make it a special but fare is a bit on higher side.

If we look at the design of train, the aesthetics and interiors are designed in a futuristic manner and the vinyl sheet design gives a glimpse of future trains in India. To maintain the standards, this train will only have 3 Tier AC Coaches and the fare will be proportionally on higher side.

A small initiative that makes this train different from others is the use of Khadi linens which is used to promote the Khadi product speciality of India.

Every coach has dustbins that will add to the cleanliness of coaches, undoubtedly this is one of the most required features in context to support the Swachh rail campaign.

First train has 22 coaches of 3 Tier AC and will run between Gorakhpur and Anand Vihar, Similar trains Antyodaya and Uday will be launched soon.

The cost of a single coach of Humsafar is 2.6 crores.

Mr. Prabhu in his series of tweets, unveiled the following:

1. “Unveiling your “Humsafar”, inspected and unveiled the new rakes of Humsafar brand of trains to be run,”

2. Highlighting the facilities of the new train, Mr Prabhu said: “Humsafar train coaches will have pleasing and comfortable interiors and attractive exteriors.”

3. “Humsafar Express is new beginning for affordable luxury train travel in India. A new train product which is fully AC with optional catering,”

4. “GPS-based public information system, deodoriser, fire suppression system, pleasing and hygienic lavatories are just some of the features.”

5. “It will also be equipped with mini-pantry with oven/fridge, convenient berth identification, distinctive furnishing board and welcome boards,”

6. “Coming up with various new products to cater to different needs of our people,” Mr Prabhu added.

As per the authorities, fare structure of the new train will be unveiled soon.

KhanaGaDi team is well prepared & excited for food delivery in train, Humsafar Express. You can download our App to relish your next journey.