Nepal revamps colonial-era railway line

24 PHOTOS
Nepal revamps rail line
See Gallery
Nepal revamps rail line
Tula Bahadur Dangi, 49, acting general manager of Nepal Railways Corporation Ltd., sits inside his quarters, in Janakpur, Nepal, June 4, 2017. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar 
Indian labourers work on the construction of a bridge for the new railway in Janakpur, Nepal, June 4, 2017. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar 
Sita Sharan Yadav, 54, a cashier for Nepal Railways Corporation Ltd., does paper work in his room in Janakpur, Nepal, June 4, 2017. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar 
An Indian labourer works on part of a bridge for the new railway in Janakpur, Nepal, June 4, 2017. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar 
Children play inside an abandoned railway coach of the Nepal Railway Corporation Ltd., in Janakpur, Nepal, June 4, 2017. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar 
A narrow gauge line where trains used to run is pictured in Janakpur, Nepal, June 4, 2017. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar 
Plants grow on the abandoned train at the workshop of Nepal Railways Corporation Ltd., in Janakpur, Nepal, June 4, 2017. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar
Rucksacks hang on the wall of the ticket office at Janakpur railway station, in Janakpur, Nepal, June 4, 2017. The ticket office closed after the train stopped running in 2014. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar 
Indian labourers work on part of a bridge for the new railway in Janakpur, Nepal, June 4, 2017. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar 
A woman stands in front of the new staff quarters built for the railway employees at Jainagar railway station in Jainagar, India, June 5, 2017. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar 
Machines used to repair trains are pictured at the deserted workshop of Nepal Railways Corporation Ltd., in Janakpur, Nepal, June 4, 2017. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar 
Train driver Rafid Kabadi, 49, poses for a photograph with his grandson in front of an abandoned train that he used to drive in Janakpur, Nepal, June 4, 2017. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar 
Files are pictured inside the old Janakpur railway station in Janakpur, Nepal, June 4, 2017. The station closed after the train stopped running in 2014. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar 
People walk along the bridge at the newly constructed Jainagar railway station in Jainagar, India, June 5, 2017. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar 
An Indian labourer works on the drainage line at the newly constructed Jainagar railway station in Jainagar, India, June 5, 2017. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar 
Indian labourers wash themselves after working on the construction of a bridge for the new railway in Janakpur, Nepal, June 4, 2017. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar 
A locomotive builder's plate is pictured on the engine of an abandoned train at the workshop of Nepal Railways Corporation Ltd., in Janakpur, Nepal, June 4, 2017. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar 
Indian labourers sit near their temporary shelter after working on the construction of a bridge for the new railway in Janakpur, Nepal, June 4, 2017. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar 
An Indian labourer is silhouetted as he works to build a bridge for the new railway in Janakpur, Nepal, June 4, 2017. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar
A levelled track connecting Jainagar in India to Janakpur in Nepal, where a new broad gauge railway line will be laid, is pictured in Janakpur, Nepal, June 4, 2017. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar 
Plants grow along the abandoned coach of a train at the workshop of Nepal Railways Corporation Ltd., in Janakpur, Nepal, June 4, 2017. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar 
Indian labourers work to build a new railway station in front of the old station in Janakpur, Nepal, June 4, 2017. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar
A locomotive builder's plate is pictured on the engine of an abandoned train at the workshop of Nepal Railways Corporation Ltd., in Janakpur, Nepal, June 4, 2017. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar 
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

JANAKPUR, Nepal, June 15 (Reuters) - Shrubs spring up around a rusted train engine in southeast Nepal, with carriages propped up on bricks and tall grass growing over abandoned wheels, offering mute testimony to years of neglect suffered by an abandoned railway line.

First built as a cargo line to carry wood from Nepal to India in 1937, it was once the lifeblood of the community in Janakpur, running 29 km (18 miles) from Jainagar in India's neighboring eastern state of Bihar.

The train service, which eventually became a cheap way for travelers to cross the international border, closed in January 2014 for a $100-million project to upgrade the colonial-era narrow rail track into a broad-gauge line.

Now the only sign of life is laughing children, who chase each other through the disintegrating carriages, climbing on rusting benches and tumbling over one another.

But the closure hit Janakpur hard, with close to 130 railway employees losing their jobs, said Tula Bahadur Dangi, acting general manager of Nepal Railway Corporation, who has worked for the company for 18 years.

Travelers have been forced to use buses instead, paying three times the price of a train ticket for a journey four times as long, which is complicated further during the monsoon rains that make the roads muddy.

Other trades dependent on the railway have also suffered.

"There is no business now, compared to when there was a train," lamented Rajendra Kushwaha, who ran a bookstall at Janakpur railway station for 45 years.

The revamp of the railway, set to be completed next March, presents clear signs of renewal and the improvements to come.

Construction is nearly 80 percent complete, with bridges and a total of 14 stations built along the route, where land has been leveled for the laying of track to extend the line northwards a distance of 69 km (43 miles).

The expansion will create 350 jobs, Dangi said, complete with plans for a museum to showcase the old German-made abandoned carriages and engines.

The expanded route would also make it easier for tourists to visit the Ram Janaki temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site that devout Hindus believe to be the birthplace of the goddess Sita.

Completion can't come quickly enough for Rafid Kabadi, who drove trains on the old line for 25 years, the third generation of his family in the job.

"I am sad the train stopped, but happy the new one is coming," he said, standing before a rusted carriage with his grandson. (Writing by Karishma Singh Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.