The Non-Government Railways of India in 1964, and what happened to them

Apart from the privately published Indian Bradshaw, there was the All-India Railway Timetable which, until 1976, provided information about all the zones of the Indian railway system. All the 9 zones (which existed from 1966) had individual timetables which were bound into a single volume, along with some other pages of general information.

I used to have a copy of the 1964 edition which had all the 8 zones existing then (as the SCR was yet to be created). There was a small section at the end titled “Non-Government Railways”. These lines were also covered in Bradshaw, but were scattered all over and not segregated into one section.

These were the non-government railways mentioned in 1964:

1) Dehri-Rohtas Light Railway

The Martin Burn lines:

2) Howrah-Amta Light Railway
3) Howrah-Sheakhala Light Railway
4) Arrah-Sasaram Light Railway
5) Futwah-Islampur Light Railway
6) Shahdara-Saharanpur Light Railway

The McLeod & Co lines

7) Burdwan-Katwa Light Railway
8) Ahmadpur-Katwa Light Railway
9) Bankura-Damodar River Railway

The Amta and Sheakhala lines were 2’0”, and all the others were 2’6”

Here is some information from a talk I had given in 2007. Some further developments have occurred since then which I have updated, but this information may not be fully accurate.

1) The Dehri-Rohtas Light Railway ran south from Dehri-on-Sone to Rohtas and later Tiura Pipardih; the last extension was in 1958. It was built by Octavius Steel, and later became part of the Sahu Jain group which also owned Rohtas Industries in Dehri-on-Sone.

It had considerable passenger and goods traffic, mainly stone and marble.

It closed in 1984 due to problems with the parent company, which went into liquidation. There is no apparent plan for revival or conversion.

Tail piece: In 2007, the Railways acquired the land of Rohtas Industries at Dehri-on-Sone which would be used for the Eastern Freight Corridor.

The Martin Burn Light Railways

2) & 3) The Howrah-Amta and Howrah-Sheakhala Light Railways were amongst the very few 2’0” lines in the plains. They carried an extensive suburban traffic for commuters into Calcutta-and may well have been the most heavily used narrow gauge lines in the world.

These lines originally ran from Telkul Ghat, but were running from Howrah Maidan in 1964. They were closed due to losses (and labour trouble) on 01-06-71.

The Howrah-Amta line was gradually converted to an electrified BG line over the years. It can be found in the SE suburban timetable, with several pairs of trains daily. It also included the branch from Bargachia to Champadanga which remains closed.

The Howrah-Sheakhala line is supposed to be converted, but there is not much progress even though the Railway Ministry was controlled by the Trinamul Congress for several years. This also includes a short branch from Chanditala to Janai, near Janai Road on the Howrah-Barddhaman chord.

4) The Arrah-Sasaram Light Railway, like the Dehri-Rohtas line, passed through rather backward areas. It connected the Patna main line with the Grand Chord.

It was closed on 15-02-78. Conversion to BG was started and has been completed by the late 2000s. It is now on the East Central Railway. Local services run between Ara (formerly Arrah) and Sasaram, including an intercity express between Patna and Bhabua Road.

5) The Futwah-Islampur Light Railway ran south from a point near Patna on the main line. It was closed on 01-02-86, and was converted to BG around 2000. It now sees a few passenger trains and even the superfast Magadh Express from New Delhi. This is also part of the East Central Railway. Futwah is now known as Fatuha.

6) The Shahdara-Saharanpur Light Railway was the only such line in North India. It had considerable commuter traffic into Delhi as well as goods traffic. It had a separate station at Shahdara which could be seen till the mid-80s.

This also fell victim to losses and closed on 01-09-70. However it was converted to BG in the late 1970s, probably due to the influence of one-time PM Charan Singh whose constituency Baghpat was on the route. It now forms part of the Northern Railway. After this the trains terminated at Delhi Jn rather than Shahdara. A small diversion was made at the northern end where the line now branches off at Tapri rather than Saharanpur itself.

It now carries several crowded passenger trains including DMUs and a Saharanpur-Delhi express (since extended to Farukhnagar off Garhi Harsaru). There is also a tri-weekly express between Haridwar and Ajmer. Although the line is not suitable for high speeds, it has sometimes been used as an emergency backup for trains like the Kalka Shatabdi.

The McLeod & Co Light Railways

7), 8) The Burdwan-Katwa and Ahmadpur-Katwa Light Railways continue to run as part of the ER. They were transferred on 01-07-67 and 01-04-66 respectively.

Ahmadpur features in the famous “jackfruit letter”.

NG services with railcars and diesels continued until recently, The former line had 5 pairs of trains daily. The Barddhaman-Balgona section was converted to BG a few years ago and was even electrified, with a few EMU services per day. NG services continue between Katwa and Balgona.

The Ahmadpur-Katwa line was closed for conversion to BG in the past year. BG conversion was completed by early 2018, although full services have not been restored.

9) The Bankura Damodar River Railway ran from Bankura to Rainagar. It was handed over to the SER on 01-07-67.Conversion to BG was completed in the late 2000s and two pairs of DEMUs now run between Bankura and Mathnashipur, 15 km beyond the former terminus of Rainagar. The line is to be extended to the Howrah-Barddhaman chord at a point near Masagram, and is likely to see more traffic then.

Other “Non-Government lines” which existed after 1947:

The Port Trust BG lines in Bombay, Calcutta, Madras and Visakhapatnam were extensive but not part of the IR network. They never appeared in the timetables as they had no passenger traffic.

The NG lines around Murtazapur and Pulgaon are still owned by the Central Provinces Railway Company, but have been operated by the GIPR and then CR for many years. They appear in the main timetables.

Martin Burn had two lines which were not mentioned in the 1964 timetable:

The Barasat-Basirhat Light Railway closed on 01-07-55. It later became part of the Barasat-Hasnabad BG line of the ER which now has EMU services from Sealdah.

The Bukhtiyarpur-Bihar Light Railway was replaced by a BG line in 1962, which ran beyond Bihar Sharif to Rajgir. It now has several long-distance services including a section of the Shramjeevi Express from New Delhi and a passenger train from Howrah. The line has been extended south of Rajgir to Gaya via Tilaiya and Manpur, though only one pair of DMUs presently run on this route. It was part of the ER and is now in the ECR.

McLeod & Co had the Kalighat-Falta Light Railway which closed on 01-04-57. There is apparently no chance of revival.

References:

All-India Timetable of 1964 and current timetables.
The Great Railway Atlas by Samit Roychoudhury (2005 and 2010 editions)
Information about locomotives can be found in Indian Locomotives (Parts 3 and 4) by Hugh Hughes.

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Gandhi and the shirts

Whatever the British rulers of India may have felt about Mahatma Gandhi, he had captured the imagination of the general public around the world. His shirt (or rather the lack of one) was a recurring theme. Here are a few examples.

A cartoonist from New Zealand created a cartoon described below:

Gandhi shirt

The only unfamiliar name may be Leon Blum, one of the main leaders of France in the 1930s.

In the 1930s, Hitler and his brown shirts as well as Mussolini and his black shirts were well known in Europe.

A less profiteering form of Gandhigiri explained his popularity among English liberals and prompted a verse in that Bible of the fashionable left, the New Statesman and Nation, that C.F. Andrews cited,

Hitler with his Brown Shirts, riding for a fall,

Mussolini with his Black Shirts, back against the wall,

De Valera with his Green Shirts, caring not at all,

Three cheers for Mahatma Gandhi, with no shirt at all.

By the time World War II came around, British soldiers had modified it to:

Mussolini with his Black Shirts, backs against the wall,
Hitler with his Brown Shirts, heading for a fall,
Churchill in his dress shirt dominates them all,
Three Cheers for Gandhi – no Shirt at ALL !!!!!!!!

This did show some affection for him-as the British working class were good at creating sarcastic songs about their enemies. Hitler and his associates would have been well aware of that:

https://abn397.wordpress.com/category/colonel-bogey/

Best bowling figures on debut

Hope you have read the previous post https://wordpress.com/post/80330897/2652/

After seeing the travails of Adil Rashid, Jason Krezja and others we turn to something more positive-the best bowling figures on debut. We have already seen that a poor debut does not always stand in the way of a long and successful career (Bradman with his 18 and 1 would be a prime example).

These figures are up to the end of the recent Tests at Abu Dhabi and Galle.

Best innings bowling on debut:

Best innings bowling on debut

First on the list is Australia’s Albert Trott, who added 38* and 72* to his 8-wicket haul. He also scored 85* in the next Test. However, he played only 3 Tests for Australia, 2 more for England and died in tragic circumstances (an euphemism for depression leading to suicide).

Another Australian Bob Massie made an unexpected 16-wicket haul at Lord’s but could not do much afterwards, though his tailend batting did help to win one Test against Pakistan. He did not take a 5-for after his debut and ended with 6 Tests.

India’s Narendra Hirwani was somewhat more fortunate than Massie, but never could repeat anything close to his devastation of a fairly strong West Indies team. He even went on to become a national selector.

Lance Klusener’s debut was somewhat similar to that of Rashid as he took 0-75 followed by 8-64. However, for most of his career he was considered more of a batting all-rounder. He was the man of the tournament in the 1999 World Cup.

TK Kendall took 7/55 in the very first Test. Note the 4-ball overs.

Then we have our old friends Krezja and Valentine whose bowling could not prevent defeats for their teams. Some other famous names like Bedser, Laker and Sammy of more recent vintage are there. South Africa’s WH Ashley played in only one Test; he is the only one to take a five-for in his only innings.

We now look at match bowling figures on debut:

Best match bowling on debut

Hirwani heads this list, though his analysis is just one run ahead of Massie’s. The record of 12-102 by Fred “Nutty” Martin was the best by a debutant from 1890 to 1972, though his career ended after 2 Tests. Well-known names such as Grimmett, Bedser, Valentine, Peter Pollock, Alderman and Laker are well represented here, besides current players like M Shami and R Ashwin.

One curiosity is CS Marriott, who is the only one to take a 10-for in his only Test. JK Lever is the only one to add a fifty to his 10 wickets on debut. And HHH Johnson is the only Test player to have three repeating initials in his name; coincidentally he played in only 3 Tests.

R Berry made his debut along with Ramadhin and Valentine. Though he was instrumental in winning that Test the other two ensured that the West Indies won the next three Tests.

In general, it appears that performance on debut has relatively little to do with long-term performance both for batsmen and bowlers. I suppose that a rigorous statistical analysis with t-tests and the like would prove this more conclusively.

The Hardik Patel cricket team

Breaking news: Hardik Patel’s followers to stage protest at ODI venue in Rajkot:

http://indianexpress.com/article/sports/cricket/saurashtra-cricket-association-seeks-id-proof-for-indian-south-africa-odi-tickets/

and

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/gujarat/sca-requests-patidars-not-to-make-rajkot-odi-a-platform-for-their-agitation/

Not sure if the Patels would get into demanding reservation in cricket teams. In case they did, here is all the information they need.

Like Smiths, Browns and Joneses, Patels have played for several countries in international cricket: India, New Zealand and England in Tests plus Kenya and Canada in ODIs/T20Is.

We start with the Test players:

Patel-Test

9 players from three countries.The best Test performer overall would be Kenya-born Dipak Patel, followed by Brijesh Patel (who lived mainly in Bangalore) and Parthiv Patel from Ahmedabad (who remains the youngest Test wicket-keeper). Munaf Patel and Jasu Patel had their moments, with the latter holding the then innings and match bowling records for India which helped them to defeat Australia for the first time. These records stood for over a quarter century. And Rashid Patel is one of the unfortunates who played their only Test without scoring any runs (a pair) or taking wickets (though he did take a catch).

The only century is by Brijesh (though Dipak has a 99). Six fivers among them (three by Dipak although Jasu has the best figures of 9/69) as well as a tenner (14-124 by Jasu).

Now for the ODI players:

Patel-ODI

Here we have representatives from Kenya and Canada as well. India’s Axar Patel is there too, while Munaf Patel was one of the unsung heroes of India’s World Cup win in 2011.

Parthiv Patel has the highest score of 95 here, while England’s Samit Patel is the only one with a fiver.

Now we come to the T20I players who are considerably fewer:

Patel-T20

All 5 countries mentioned above are still represented here. The most matches (22) have been played by Rakap of Kenya, the highest score is 88* by Hiral of Canada and best bowling (3/17) by Axar of India (a true multinational sharing of honours)

Axar Patel also took 4/0 in a FC match against South Africa A recently.

Hardik and his friends would realize that their compatriots have done well enough in cricket (particularly those who lived outside India).

October 2-three cricket obituaries

October 2 is an important day in India-though many forget that it is also the birth anniversary of Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri (1904-1966). October 2, 2015 is also unusual as three Test cricketers of some note passed away.

The best known was Australia’s spinner Lindsay Kline:

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/player/6159.html

who played in 13 Tests but saw a lot of drama in them-including a hat-trick and being involved in two of the tensest Test match finishes of all time. In the tied test at Brisbane in 1960-61, he faced the last ball only to see his partner Meckiff run out.

Kline’s batting was of the Chris Martin school, with Test and FC averages around 8. So it happened that the 4th Test of the same series at Adelaide saw Australia at 207/9 facing a target of 460 with about a session to go. With Mackay and No 11 Kline, one expected the match to end quickly. However, they survived for 100 minutes to end with an unbroken stand of 66, (Mackay 62*, Kline 15*) which enabled Australia to go into the 5th Test with the scores 1-1, finally making it 2-1. Kline did make his highest Test score in what was his final Test innings.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/62891.html

He was, of course, in the team as a bowler and his 7-75 against Pakistan at Lahore in 1959-60 remains Australia’s best innings bowling in Pakistan. Australia won two Tests in that series and only won once more in Pakistan in 1998-99, though they have won in neutral Tests after that.

Aus v Pak away

Then there was Steve Camacho of the West Indies.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/player/51457.html

He was relatively lesser known, but did play 11 Tests as an opener with a top score of 87. Those familiar with Indian cricket history would remember him from India’s first victory against the West Indies (which marked the debut of someone far better known)

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/63067.html

Finally we have Fred Ridgway who played in 5 Tests for England, all of them in their tour of India in 1951-52. This may well be England’s weakest team to tour India, although in purely statistical terms they did better than the 1992-93 team which lost 3-0.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/player/19405.html

As most of you may know, this included India’s first-ever Test victory:

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/62729.html

Ridgway did not do much in this Test, though he had taken 4-83 in Calcutta. He did somewhat better in the side matches, with 41 wickets in 16 FC matches.

A diverse trio, but it is unusual that it included two who played for their teams in their first defeats against India.

UPDATE: Later reports indicated that Ridgway actually passed away on Sep 26 and not Oct 2 as stated above.