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Maharashtra: Bhusawal rail museum saves iconic Shakuntala rail locomotives

Updated on: 22 May,2024 07:11 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Rajendra B. Aklekar |

The Heritage Rail Museum, Bhusawal, has been successful in preserving the steam and diesel locomotives of Shakuntala railway line

Maharashtra: Bhusawal rail museum saves iconic Shakuntala rail locomotives

The heritage railway museum set up outside Bhusawal station that has become a hit with locals. Pics/Ashish Raje

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Maharashtra: Bhusawal rail museum saves iconic Shakuntala rail locomotives

The newly-opened Bhusawal railway museum has managed to preserve both the steam and diesel locomotives of the iconic and now defunct Shakuntala railway line. Other artefacts at the Bhusawal museum next to Bhusawal railway station include British-era furniture, signals, card ticketing ephemera and much more.

Bhusawal junction railway station has a historical significance. It was formally established in 1863 as a part of India’s first railway line, the Great Indian Peninsula Railway (GIPR) Company ten years after the company operated India’s first passenger train between Mumbai and Thane in 1853.

The Shakuntala Railway was a 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) narrow-gauge railway line between Yavatmal and Achalpur in Maharashtra in central India. Originally called Yavatmal–Murtizapur Junction–Achalpur railway, it was set by the Killick, Nixon and Company, that created the Central Provinces Railway Company (CPRC) to act as its agents.

Officials said the company built this narrow-gauge line in 1903 to carry cotton from cotton-rich interior areas of the district to the Murtizapur Junction on main broad gauge line to Mumbai from where it was shipped to Manchester in England. In 2016, Indian Railways announced that the Shakuntala railway would be converted to broad gauge for mainstream railway connectivity, the conversion of which started in 2020.

While the open museum, spread in a large space has a number of steam and diesel engines, old wooden coaches, semaphore signals, old lamps, steam era watering towers, the indoor museum has rare relics like antique long-case clocks, furniture with teak wood GIPR chairs, Neale’s ball token machines used for signaling, ephemera of old card tickets and models of various types.

Among the various outdoor relics, the central attraction, however, remains the two locomotives, one steam and another diesel that operated on the iconic Shakuntala railway line. A mini footover bridge with vintage design has been included to blend in with the heritage museum layout.

“The narrow gauge steam locomotive of 2-8-2 F class manufactured by Nasmyth Wilson & Co, Patricroft, Manchester, UK, built in 1930 had conducted its last run on 29 March, 1989 from Murtizapur to Yavatmal. This 700 HP diesel locomotive 202 of the ZDM 4A class had operated last between Murtizapur to Achalpur on 14 December 1983,” an official said.

“The Heritage Rail Museum, Bhusawal, was opened for public on 28 Jan 2022. It is intended for the coming generation to know and understand the history of railways and to preserve the old heritage of railways.” said Ity Pande, Bhusawal divisional railway manager. She said the museum has many items related to railway heritage like old steam engine 1930, diesel engine, coaches 1982, all from the narrow gauge category, concept model of various locos/coaches/wagons over Indian Railways, heritage narrow gauge dinette, printing press, hand cart, push trolley, water column, big circular vintage watch, ticket punching machine, hand lamps etc. “On World Heritage Museum Day a cake cutting with distribution of Cups as memento with heritage engine embossed was given to kids,” said Pande who also happens to be the first lady divisional manager of Bhusawal.

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