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Burdwan Katwa Railway

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Title: Burdwan Katwa Railway  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Katwa railway station, Barauni–Gorakhpur, Raxaul and Jainagar lines, Howrah–Gaya–Delhi line, Howrah–New Jalpaiguri line, Lalgola and Gede branch lines
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Burdwan Katwa Railway

Burdwan Katwa Railway is a 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) narrow gauge line, built and operated as part of McLeod’s Light Railways, in Bardhaman district in the Indian state of West Bengal. The narrow gauge track is being converted to 1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in).

McLeod & Company was the subsidiary of a London-based 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.[1] The 53 kilometres (33 mi) long Burdwan Katwa Railway connecting Bardhaman (earlier known as Burdwan) and Katwa, built on 762 mm (30 in), was opened to traffic on 1 December 1915. In 1966, ownership of the BKR was transferred to Indian Railways' Eastern Railway which continues to operate the BKR as a narrow gauge operation.[2] As of 2004 five trains plied each way. There is a crossing point at Bolgona station. The Up and Down trains have to reach the crossing on time to facilitate crossing. The rail journey takes 2.45 hours, the engines chugging along at the maximum speed of 30 km per hour.[3]

Journey on narrow gauge

Here is a description of the journey in 2007, “The train waited for less than an hour before it returned to Katwa. Engine BK1 made little puffs of steam as it shunted, while a beggar peered in at the open swinging carriage doors, alternately moaning his distress and slurping an icy pole. The broad gauge could be heard – electric toots and diesel growlings – but was hidden by sheds. The land west of the Hooghly, though still alluvial and flat, is not as wet as riverine Bengal. Its fields, though usually covered with close-cropped green grass, bear but one crop a year and lie open, instead of being divided by watercourses and frequent villages. Altogether they do nothing to prevent the BK Railway from following a straight surveyed line, or to stop its trains from traveling at an even pace marked by the measured clunking of four-wheeled carriages on rail joints. My train from Burdwan stopped regularly, sometimes to shunt or to cross a southbound service. At each station the passenger load increased, so that after two stops the man opposite had to give up sleeping on the seat, and after several more there were fowls underfoot and small boys and women sitting on the floor and young men hanging on while standing on the footboards. So we rounded the curve into Katwa – doors open, dhotis flapping, all bound for Katwa market.” [4]

Gauge conversion

The track from Burdwan to Katwa is being converted to 1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in) wide broad gauge and electrified.[5][6] The 26 km Burdwan-Balgona section has been converted to broad gauge in 2013 and EMU train started on the section in February 2014.[7] Conversion of the remaining 26 km Balgona-Katwa section to broad gauge started in 2015.


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