Ahmedpur Katwa Railway
Ahmedpur Katwa Railway is a 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) narrow gauge line, built and operated as part of McLeod’s Light Railways (Now a part of Indian Railways), in Birbhum and Bardhaman districts in the Indian state of West Bengal. This Railroad was started in 1917 and closed on 13 January 2013 at the age of 96 years, for conversion to broad gauge.
McLeod & Company was the subsidiary of a London company of managing agents, McLeod Russell & Co. Ltd, formed to build and operate four narrow gauge railways (McLeod's Light Railways) – Burdwan Katwa Railway, Bankura Damodar Railway, Kalighat Falta Railway and Ahmedpur Katwa Railway.
The 53 kilometres (33 mi) long Ahmedpur Katwa Light Railway connecting Ahmedpur and Katwa, built on 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) gauge, was opened to traffic on 29 September 1917. It has remained a single track line since its inception. In order to facilitate the crossing of trains there are special crossings at five places along the track.
In 1966 the Indian Railway had taken over the operation of this narrow gauge railway from McLeod & Company. As of 2004 four trains plied each way. Trains took more than four hours to cover the distance. The maximum speed limit fixed by the engineering division of the Eastern Railway is just 15 km per hour.
Here is a description of the ride in 2002-2003, “These coaches are decrepit even by Indian narrow-gauge standards, being little more than metal-clad wooden boxes on wheels, with gaps rather than doors and windows, a few wooden benches and the lighting ripped out. The line runs through pleasant agricultural countryside, often following a low embankment among rice fields, serving tidy villages. The train provides not only free rides but a free distribution service. Villagers clambered on with all manner of agricultural produce and sacks of coal which they delivered to more isolated settlements by occasionally kicking items off the train as it rambled along. Presumably passers-by learn to look out for and dodge such deliveries. On the train people filled every space and then clung to the sides.”
- Chakraborty, Snehamoy. "Emotions pasted – One last run". The Telegraph, 14 January 2013. Retrieved 2013-01-14.
- "McLeod's Light Railways". Retrieved 2009-08-22.
- "Ahmadpur-Katwa Railway". Retrieved 2009-08-22.
- "Narrow gauge gets a new lease of life". The Statesman, 14 October 2004. Retrieved 2011-12-02.
- Mortimer, Simon. "India: narrow-gauge lines in late 2002 and late 2003". Retrieved 2009-08-22.
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