British era train prepping up for a forest run after 40 years
In a unique experience for passengers, a train from the times of the British which ran on the country’s first track laid in a forest for timber transportation will soon start its operation again. The train will run after a hiatus of 40 years, its route though would be curtailed from the earlier 22.4 km to 15 km between Ikma and Laxmipur . Its three coaches will ferry eco-tourists and not be laden with wooden logs and instead of a steam engine, a diesel engine will power it.
CM Yogi Adityanath is keen for the vintage train to run to give eco-tourism a boost in eastern UP. A feasibility study to restart the train is complete and its reports is expected next week. DFO, Maharajganj forest divison, Pushpa Kumar said. “Track renovation would start once we get the report.” The plan to operate the abandoned train as a vintage service took shape in 2017. The Government received proposals from architects but it is the high cost of the project which has kept the government from going ahead.
Lying in a shed in Laxmipur, the British-era train was commissioned in 1924 on a track laid in 1922. It operated on a narrow gauge track of 0.625 metre, had 56 coaches and four engines. The train also had a saloon. Lucknow zoo has a coach and an engine of the train on display. The track was the first in the country to be laid in a forest only for transportation of timber. A raised platform and a yard still exist at Ikma. The forest department took possession of the train in 1978 but phased it out soon after. Now, railways has surveyed the track and found it fit for operation. At present though the track is covered in grass. Once it starts its run, the train would pass through Sohagi Barwa Wildlife Sanctuary in Laxmipur range.