Narrow Gauge Railway of Aukštaitija has rich history. Its mission changed several times in the course of time. The construction of narrow gauge railway took several stages. Started in 1891, the first 750 mm wide section was opened in November 11, 1895 to connect Švenčionėliai and Pastovai. In 1898 narrow gauge railway reached Panevėžys, and the first trains were launched in autumn 1899. Initially, both cargoes and passengers were carried by this narrow gauge railway. In 1916 German Army laid two new sections of 600 mm width: Gubernija-Pasvalys and Joniškis-Žeimelis. The period between the two wars was the time of prosperity of narrow gauge railway; it was widely used in different fields of the country’s economy.
During the period of the independency of Lithuania (1920-1938) local municipalities contributed substantially to the development of the narrow gauge railway network in the country. At the time Panevėžys was the centre of the region; thus a direct line to Panevėžys was necessary to export flax, bacon, grain, and supplying timber and flour from the regional centre to local areas.
For some time after regaining the independence, narrow gauge railway functioned as a part of company Lietuvos Geležinkeliai (Lithuanian Railways). In 1999, the freight carrying was stopped. On November 1, 1999 a new structural department was established within the Board of Lietuvos Geležinkeliai which was called Narrow Gauge Railway.
In 2001 narrow gauge railway was closed to passengers. In 1996 Narrow Gauge Railway of Aukštaitija was given a status of national technical heritage and started functioning as historical tourist train. The interest in Narrow Gauge Railway of Aukštaitija has been growing significantly. From 2006 on, its regular trips have been reopened to passengers.
Presently operating line Panevėžys – Rubikiai (68.4 km) runs past Taruškos, Raguvėlė, Surdegis, Troškūnai, Anykščiai and Bičionys.
The complex of Narrow Gauge Railway of Aukštaitija, including stations and road structures, is a highly valuable object of country’s historical and cultural heritage.
In 2003 some objects of the complex were declared a cultural heritage.
In 2005 a partial financing of Narrow Gauge Railway of Aukštaitija as an object of cultural heritage was initiated.
Protected Heritage Objects:
depot building, narrow gauge railway line, including trackbeds, rails, bridges, shunts, overflows;
railway station buildings in Panevėžys, Taruškos, Raguvėlė, Surdegis, Anykščiai and other areas;
water towers, hydrants, storehouses and over 50 units of historical rolling-stock.
01- turnout repair in1960 m.(Panevėžys-Joniškėlis). In the foreground - Povilas Grilauskas.
02-Excavation of a sub grade by trolley metal ballast trimming glide. Photo from Panevėžys.
03-04-Flood in the narrow gauge railway in 1951 March 4. Photo from Panevėžys.
05 – Pipeline fuel for steam engine.
06- By the locomotive in Petrošiūnai Railway Station. Skurauskas’s photo.
07- Railroad workers near the locomotive in Petrošiūnai Railway Station. From the archive of Skurauskas.
08- Device of crosstie made by the masters in Panevėžys.
09 - At Žeimelis Railway Station. By the locomotive: engine driver Anupras Latišas and workers from the depot of Joniškis in 1945-1950. From a personal archive of A.Latišas.
10- Construction of a new line Joniškėlis-Panevėžys in 1937. From a personal archive of Rudzinskienė.
11- At Petrošiūnai Railway Station in 1940.
12 – Railway workers by the locomotive Čekiukas at Linkuva Railway Station in 1942. Such locomotives functioned only till 1955. On the left: conductor Povilas Bajelis, Albertas Zlatkus, engine driver Juozas Skaistgiraitis, Alperavičius, Šleideris. From a personal archive of Balčiūnienė.
13- Repairs of the narrow gauge railway in 1936-1938. Supposedly in the line Joniškėlis- Panevėžys. From a personal archive of Balčiūnienė.
14- The construction of a new narrow gauge bridge in Petrošiūnai. From a personal archive of Janickienė.
Photos from Pakruojis district municipality administration, department of culture, archive of local lore studies.