Trains happen to be one of the best and most economical ways to travel across the country. But did you know there’s one train that has been offering free rides to its passengers for the past 73 years? Enter the Bhakra-Nangal train journey.
All About The Bhakra-Nangal Train
While it sounds far-fetched, it’s true. The Bhakra-Nangal Train is a scenic railway journey in the northern part of India. The route covers a distance of 13-kilometre starting from the city of Bhakra, Himachal Pradesh to Nangal, Punjab.
The train journey takes approximately two and a half hours to complete, and it passes through some of the most breathtaking landscapes and picturesque villages in the region. It forms the lifeline of 25 villages and around 300 passengers who use it for daily commutes. The journey mainly benefits students, schoolchildren, and labourers from different spheres of work.
The Bhakra-Nangal Free Train Route was inaugurated in 1963 and was built to transport construction materials and workers to the Bhakra-Nangal Dam, which is one of the largest dams in India. However, with time, the route became popular among tourists and locals alike, who were drawn to the scenic beauty of the region and the unique experience of travelling through the hills by train.
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One of the highlights of the journey is the Bhakra Dam, which is a marvel of engineering and one of the largest dams in India. The dam is built on the Sutlej River and provides irrigation water and hydroelectric power to the region. The train passes over the dam, providing a breathtaking view of the dam and the surrounding landscape.
Why Does The Train Travel Free Of Cost?
The main intention behind this train is to represent the region’s heritage.
Earlier in 2011, the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB), which operates the railway, has previously considered terminating the gratuitous service. It finally voted against the move, realising that the train stood for things that were much more significant than merely a means of generating income—namely, the history, culture, and tradition of the area. Because of this, it continues to run the train in the same way in the hopes that locals, especially the younger generation, would be interested in learning more about this area and all that went into creating the famous dam.
At first, the Bhakra-Nangal train was powered by steam. Subsequently, in an effort to update the route, three new engines were purchased from America in 1953. The train continues to utilise the 60-year-old model despite later technology developments and more advanced engines in an effort to maintain its antique status. All of this is true even though the engine uses 18 to 20 litres of fuel every hour. The hardwood seats used in colonial-era carriages were produced in Karachi for the railroad.
The train leaves Nangal Railway Station at 7:05 in the morning and arrives at Bhakra at 8:20 in the morning. It again leaves Nangal at 3:05 PM that day and arrives in Bhakra at 4:20 PM.
Route: From Nangal, Punjab to Bhakra, Himachal Pradesh
Cover image credits: Flickr