Unbelievable but true. It is 70 years since India has got freedom from British rule, yet  there is something of importance that is still owned by a British company in India. Only relief is that the company's name is not 'East India Company' but something different.

There is a train that runs between Yavatmal and Murtizapur stations for which Indian railways give royalty to British company - Killick Nixon and Company. The train name is Shakuntla Express, and the track is a narrow gauge railway.

steam engine

This track was laid down before independence in 1903 to carry cotton from Yavatmal to Mumbai's main line. From Bombay the cotton was than exported to Manchester in England. The train was pulled by a ZedD locomotive that was manufactured in Manchester in 1921. After 1994 the locomotive was replaced by a local diesel engine. The older locomotive can still be seen resting at Pune city loco shed.

Interestingly, Indian Railways pays a hefty royalty - 1.20 crore of Indian rupees to the Nixon and company. Although for some years royalty has not been given as railway has adjusted amount in maintenance of track and train.

The journey is 189 km long. The train fare is just 22 rupees. This train runs through age old cotton producing area, popularly known as "Achalpur". Whole railway operation on this route is managed only manually by the staff comprising only of 7 men. They take care of everything from ticketing to signalling and train running.

In 1951 every railway route in India was nationalized. Only this route was not included for some unknown reasons. After that Railway has considered many times, in fact every 10 years, to purchase the track. But it has postponed it every time citing heavy cost and calculating that is not that profitable an entity to invest into.

One thing you will frequently see on parts, equipment, signals, locomotives and other railway instruments is "Made in Liverpool". A stamp of proof if anyone doubt who owns this train which is running in India.

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