Sneaking on a train and travelling without a ticket is an offence in India that can attract a fine and even imprisonment sometimes. However, there is one such train in the country in which you can travel without having to pay a single penny.
Now, it might sound too good to be true but passengers have been enjoying free rides on the Bhakra Railway Train for the last 73 years.
The special train runs through the borders of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh and is frequently used by commuters to travel between Nangal and Bhakar. But, the passengers don’t need to worry about the ticket as it is completely free.
The Bhakar-Nangal train started operating back in 1948. It was during the construction of the Bhakar Nangal dam that the need for the special train was realised. At that time, there was no means of transportation between Nangal and Bhakar. Hence, it was decided to lay a railway track on the route to facilitate the transportation of both heavy machinery and staff.
Initially, the train was powered using steam engines but they were later replaced by three new engines imported from America in 1953. Now, although five models of the engine have been since introduced by The Indian Railway, the special train continues to run with its 60-year-old engines.
The coaches are also unique and were made in Karachi. In addition, the seats too are made of colonial-era wooden benches.
The heritage Bhakar-Nangal train covers a distance of 13 kilometres through the Shiwalik Hills. It enters the Nehla station and goes to the Nangal Dam in Punjab. Reportedly, the train consumes 18 to 20 litres of diesel per hour but despite the cost, the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) has decided to keep it free.
The railway track is laid along the Nangal Dam water and daily commuters, BBMB employees, school students, and visitors still avail of the free ride.
Due to financial issues, the BBMB had once even contemplated ending the free ride. But, later it decided that the train was a lot more than just a source of income. It noted that the Bhakar-Nangal train represented the heritage and tradition and resumed its free service.