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Blog Entry# 2960513
Posted: Jan 02 (00:18)

3 Responses
Last Response: Jan 02 (11:50)
  
Rail News
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IR Affairs
CR/Central
Jan 02 (00:17)   Government to take over Shakuntala, only private railway line

12709 Simhapuri 12710~   74 news posts
Entry# 2960513   News Entry# 325883         Tags   Past Edits
It may well be the last piece of colonial railway legacy. Shakuntala Railway, the only privately-owned railway line in India offering passenger services, may soon be a part of history. Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has cleared a proposal to take over the narrow gauge line and convert it into broad gauge at an estimated cost of Rs 1,500 crore.

Shakuntala Railway covers a 188-km stretch from Yavatmal to Achalpur in Amaravati district of Maharashtra. The Central Province Railway Company (CPRC), or the Shakuntala Railway, was founded in 1910 by Killick Nixon,
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a British firm, mainly to transport cotton from the area. The route was used to ferry cotton from Vidarbha for exporting. But even after the nationalisation of other private sector railway lines, Shakuntala Railway continued to be privately-owned. According to the contract with CPRC, if the Indian government fails to acquire the line in 2016, it will only be able to acquire it a decade later.

“The takeover and conversion of this route to broad gauge will reduce the distance between Delhi and Chennai, Bengaluru by about 80 km. We are going ahead with this,” said a railway ministry official. The Indian Railways pays an annual usage fee of Rs 2-3 crore for running two passenger trains and few goods trains on these tracks to CPRC.

When contacted, Shivanand Rama Hemmady, director and company secretary of CPRC said, “The railways is yet to get in touch with us regarding the acquisition. We are open to the proposal, considering they come up with a proper valuation for the tracks we own. Though it has a colonial tradition, our company is currently owned by Indian shareholders only.” CPRC is currently listed on the BSE, and the agreement was between the Central Railways, CPRC and Killick Nixon. Killick Nixon did not respond to a query by Business Standard.

According to Hemmady, from October 2002, Indian Railways has not paid a single penny as usage fee, citing that it spends a huge amount of money on track repairs. According to the contract, Indian Railways should pay 55 per cent of the revenue it gets from running Shakuntala Express to CPRC. Indian Railways estimates that it may have to pay 125 per cent of the last three years’ average revenue, which comes to about Rs 12 crore.

Earlier, the railways was not keen on taking over the loss-making line. As per the contract, major expenses above Rs 10,000 must be borne by the company. According to the railways, the rent of using the line was adjusted from the cost of repairs and maintenance. All other lines owned by CPRC got nationalised. Interestingly, even now all the rail signals are from the British era, with a “Made in Liverpool” tag.
According to Indian Railways, on an average, five wagons are booked from Achalpur station to transport goods such as cotton, dry chilly, timber, handloom cloth, rosha oil, coffee seeds, mangoes, guavas and oranges from the area.

3 Public Posts - Tue Jan 02, 2018

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