In photos: An 80-year-old India-Nepal rail line, once a favourite of smugglers and migrants alike
The historic Janakpur train, between Nepal and India, was once an important border crossing for citizens on both sides.
The British built the 20-mile runway in 1937 to transport Janakpur’s wooded forest areas in the Indian city of Jainagar, but as supply decreases, the main burden of the train became a person.
Tourists and pilgrims boarded the train in India to reach the historic temples of Janakpur, considered the birthplace of the Hindu goddess Sita.
And, because of a few rupees, the inhabitants of Nepal need to find work in India and beyond, or to transport goods to their hometown for sale. Until it closed in 2014, men, women and children, even cars fill up every day, and when the room was empty, they asseiraient on the ceiling or hanging from the sides.
These days, Janakpur villagers who can afford it, must travel by bus, which can cost three times to cross the border, while their station is abandoned.
A recent Reuters photo series describes the bushes that have grown up around a rusting train engine, cars in disrepair, whose only visitors are children who follow, and abandoned workshops once used to repair the train (which often Derailed or destroyed during their last years).
The children play inside an abandoned train coach. (Reuters / Navesh Chitrakar)
The line was closed so that Nepal Railway Corporation, with the financial support of Indian Railways, can improve the tracking of its colony days.
It is an effort of 100 million, and for the people, it may seem that the railway line would never reopen because the building faces many setbacks and the delays are not respected. Not to mention that there are charges to force contractors to misuse materials to be used for other projects.
However, according to Reuters, the company claims to have completed 80% of the necessary improvements, including placing new tracks, extending the 43-mile line to the north and building 14 new stations along the Route Even if everything goes according to plan, the line will not be open for business before March.
For passengers, many of whom live in poverty, the train was their lifeline. In 2015 the documentary “The Last Train of Nepal”, the BBC, the exhaustive Nepal filmmakers most reliant on the Janakpur line.
The line, as one villager told himself, went to the local for the locals. Every wrinkle in the train tracks or local emergency repairers were the first to solve them.
They are among the 130 railroad employees who depended on the continuous operation of the line to feed their families and pay the loans – and ended up losing their jobs when they stopped.