The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway in 1943

We have all heard of the train to Darjeeling, but there was more to it than the single line from Siliguri to Darjeeling. This should be apparent from these timetable extracts from 1943. These are not from the Bradshaw which had rather poor print quality, but from another source (more about that later).

DHR TT 001

First, this is an extract from the Bengal & Assam Railway. See its logo showing that it was founded in 1942. This was an emergency measure following the outbreak of World War 2 in Asia. The old stalwarts Eastern Bengal Railway (HQ in Calcutta, main station Sealdah) and the Assam Bengal Railway (HQ in Chittagong) were merged to form the B & A Railway to make it easier to manage rail transport east of Calcutta. Essentially the running of the railways was taken over by the US armed forces.

Of course, the B & AR was broken up after partition and its tracks are now spread over the present Sealdah  division of ER, the NFR, and Bangladesh Railways.

Now we look at the timetables of the DHR. These lines were not part of the B&AR, but it was the practice to include adjoining smaller railway systems in the timetables of larger systems.

DHR TT 002

There are several points here that many railfans may be unfamiliar with. To begin with, this system was the 2-foot narrow gauge unlike most other narrow gauge lines in India which were 2 ft 6 in. Only a handful of 2-foot gauge lines in India survive now, including the mountain railways to Darjeeling and Matheran.

The Siliguri station here was the BG terminus where long-distance trains such as the Darjeeling Mail used. It was located at the station now known as Siliguri Town. Note the connection between the Mail arriving at 06.44 and the NG train (also called the Mail) at 06.59, and in the reverse direction when the passengers presumably had their dinner at Siliguri.

The present Siliguri Jn was opened as part of the Assam Rail Link in the late 1940s. It is located at the former wayside station of Siliguri Road seen above.

When New Jalpaiguri station was opened in the early 1960s, the NG line was extended south from Siliguri Jn to there passing through Siliguri Town, which had gone from being a major terminus to an unimportant wayside station.

Panchanai Jn was the point where the DHR branch to Kishanganj turned towards the left. There is no sign of it now. There have been various other changes pertaining to loops and reverses. One result of this is that Chunabhati station is no longer on the route. This timetable does not show the numerous halt stations which have mostly vanished without a trace, though Batasia is now a stop for the joyride trains between Darjeeling and Ghum.

Now for the rest of the DHR:

DHR TT 003

The Siliguri-Kishanganj Extension and the Teesta Valley Extension were built later (dates given below). The Kishanganj line provided a connection to MG trains from Barsoi and Katihar side. Being in the plains, it did not need the special B class engines but used more conventional ones. Apart from the usual 4-6-2s, there was also a Garratt.

This line became the starting point of the Assam Rail Link, enabling MG trains from the Katihar side to enter northern Bengal. Note that many of the stations (including Naksalbari and Baghdogra) became part of the MG line though there were some changes in alignment. For instance, the new MG line went directly from Matigara to the new Siliguri Jn without crossing Panchanai (where the station was demolished).

The Teesta Valley Extension had an unfortunate end. Initially the Assam Rail Link followed it up to Sevoke. There was a mixed gauge line from the new Siliguri Jn to Sevoke. Here the TV line turned north while the new MG line crossed the Teesta just east of the station and continued eastward to join the existing MG system at a place which became known as New Mal Jn, and finally to Fakiragram and beyond.

The terminus at Gielle Khola seems to have been known as Kalimpong Road in the earlier days. A ropeway connected this station to Kalimpong.

But this line did not last long after Independence. Severe flooding damage occurred in early 1950 which resulted in the line being closed permanently. Though the tracks ran close to the highway towards Kalimpong and Gangtok, you are not likely to see any trace of the line now unless you take the help of local experts. And the NG line from Siliguri to Sivok was pulled up as it no longer had any purpose, leaving a pure MG line behind. In the  2000s the entire MG route in this area was converted to BG.

Some historical notes here:

DHR History 001

Note the stamp issued in 1982.

The above information is from a nice little booklet called “A guide to the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway” by Richard Wallace, first edition in 2000. There is a more detailed second edition published in 2009.

There is another useful book by R.R. Bhandari which may be available at the bookstall at the National Rail Museum at Delhi.

Numerous other books (mainly of British origin) are also there. Some may be available from bookshops in Kolkata and the Darjeeling area.

Other useful links include:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darjeeling_Himalayan_Railway

and

https://abn397.wordpress.com/2015/01/30/railway-history-construction-of-the-assam-rail-link/

 

 

 

 

 

Cricketing coincidences-1

This begins with a listing of all those who have scored a fifty-plus and taken a 5-wicket haul on Test debut:

It is not a long list.

50 & 5wi on debut

Only 8 instances in Test history. There is only one instance of a century and fiver, which is by Bruce Taylor for NZ v Ind in 1964-65. And there is only one instance of a fifty and 10 wickets, which is by John Lever for Eng v Ind in 1976-77.

Look at the scorecards and you will find something surprising.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/62966.html

and

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/63174.html

These matches were both against India in India and were separated by almost a dozen years. Bruce Taylor had retired in 1973. But one Indian player who had made his debut just before Taylor was still around in 1976 and continued playing until 1983.

He was S. Venkataraghavan, who played in both of these Tests.

And a minor coincidence: There were only three Test players with the surname Banerjee. All of them played in only one Test despite doing fairly well on debut.

SA (Mantu) Banerjee: 5 wickets in the match v WI in 1948-49: http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/62692.html

SN (Shute) Banerjee: 5 wickets in the match v WI in 1948-49, which came close to being India’s first Test victory:

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/62694.html

ST Banerjee: 3 wickets in the match v Aus in 1991-92:

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/63565.html

However, their arch rivals the Chatterjees and the Mukherjees have not produced any Test players yet. Only a few ODI players.

 

 

Rail Quiz No 2

Here is a fairly simple one for those who are familiar with timetables of the 1970s:

What was common between these four stations as of the mid-70s (but not today):

 

Answer: These stations had three gauges of lines.

The first to get it right was Abhirup Sarkar.

Notes for those who are interested:

Remember, all this applies to the 1970s and not now.

BG, MG and NG are mentioned in order for each case.

NJP: The main line to New Bongaigaon, branch line from Siliguri, 2’0″ DHR to Darjeeling.

Bangalore City: Main line from Madras, various lines to Mysore, Hubli etc, 2’6″ line  to Bangarapet via Yelahanka, Chikballapur and Kolar. The NG terminus moved to Yelahanka in the 80s. Now that line is also BG. Possibly Yelahanka had all 3 gauges for some time.

Miraj: Main line from Bombay and Poona, main line from Bangalore, branch line to Kurduwadi. (Up to around 1970 it was on the MG line from Poona to Bangalore. BG conversion got up to Miraj and Kolhapur and then stopped for many years).

Ujjain: Major branch line from Bhopal to Nagda and Indore, minor branch line from Indore via Fatehabad Chandrawatiganj, 2’0″ branch to Agar which probably closed in the 80s. This was originally part of the Scindia State Railway which also ran three similar branches out of Gwalior, one of which still runs on NG.

 

How the rest of the EU views Brexit

Time to see how Google Translate deals with Brexit (actually it should be UKexit though the Scots and Ulstermen would differ). Anyway, we use the phrase “Britain leaves Europe” in all major languages of the European Union.

Basque:       Britainia uzten Europan

Bulgarian:  Великобритания напуска Европа

Catalan:      Gran Bretanya deixa Europa

Corsican:    Britain lassa ‘Auropa

Croatian:     Britanija napusti Europu

Czech:          Británie opustí Evropu

Danish:        Storbritannien forlader Europa

Dutch:           Groot-Brittannië laat Europa

Estonian:      Suurbritannia jätab Euroopas

Finnish:         Britannia lähtee Eurooppa

French:           Bretagne quitte l’Europe

Frisian:           Brittanje ferlit Europa

Galician:        Gran Bretaña deixa a Europa

German:         Großbritannien verlässt Europa

Greek:             Βρετανία αφήνει την Ευρώπη

Hungarian:    Nagy-Britannia elhagyja Európát

Irish:                Bhreatain duilleoga Eoraip

Italian:             La Gran Bretagna lascia l’Europa

Latin:                Britannia folia Europae

Latvian:            Britain atstāj Eiropu

Lithuanian:      Britanija palieka Europą

Luxembourgish: Groussbritannien Blieder Europa

Maltese:             Britain weraq Ewropa

Norwegian:       Storbritannia forlater Europa

Polish:                 Brytania opuszcza Europę

Portuguese:       Grã-Bretanha deixa a Europa

Romanian:          Marea Britanie părăsește Europa

Scots Gaelic:      Bhreatainn a ‘fàgail na Roinn Eòrpa

Slovak:                Británia opustí Európu

Slovenian:          Britanija zapusti Evropo

Spanish:             Gran Bretaña deja Europa

Swedish:             Britain lämnar Europa

Welsh:                 Prydain yn gadael Ewrop

That covers all national and some sub-national languages of the present EU (except Flemish?) plus Latin and Norwegian.

Having got this far, we try it in some Indian languages:

ব্রিটেন ছেড়ে

બ્રિટેન નહીં

ब्रिटेन यूरोप पत्ते

ಬ್ರಿಟನ್ ಯುರೋಪ್ ಬಿಟ್ಟು

ബ്രിട്ടൻ യൂറോപ്പ് വിടുന്നു

ब्रिटन युरोप पाने

ਬ੍ਰਿਟੇਨ ਯੂਰਪ ਨੂੰ ਛੱਡਦੀ ਹੈ

برطانيه يورپ پنن (Sindhi)

பிரிட்டன் ஐரோப்பா விட்டு

బ్రిటన్ ఆకులు యూరోప్

برطانیہ یورپ چھوڑ دیتا ہے

Bengali and Gujarati are clearly wrong, Hindi is a bit of a joke and you can see if any of the others are correct. Among other Indian languages, Assamese, Kashmiri and Konkani are still not available.

If you have got this far, you may as well read this earlier one about Grexit:

https://abn397.wordpress.com/2015/07/03/grexit-meets-google-translate/

 

 

 

Review of India-Zimbabwe T20I matches

Yes, even an embryonic series like this deserves a review 🙂

A total of 7 T20Is have now been played between these sides, all of them in Zimbabwe. India lead 5-2. CJ Chibabha and H Masakadza have played in all 7, while no Indian has played in more than 5.

There is not much point in calculating averages. strike rates and the like on such a small data set so we will confine ourselves to the best overall and match performances.

Batting-most runs (50 and above):

Batting overall

Chibhabha is far ahead of the rest while Raina has the most runs for India.

Batting-highest scores (40 and above):

Batting-innings

Raina and Chibhabha have the highest individual scores, although KM Jadhav made the highest score in the current series.

Bowling-most wickets (3 and above):

Bowling overall

Mpofu, AR Patel and newcomer Sran have taken the most wickets.

Bowling-best innings figures (2 and above):

Bowling-innings

The two best performances are by Sran (on debut) and Bumrah in the current series. The previous best was by AR Patel in the previous series.

Fielding-most dismissals (2 and above):

Fielding overall

AR Patel has the most dismissals. The best wicketkeeping figures are by Taibu.

Innings fielding-most dismissals (2 and above):

Fielding-innings

No one has taken more than 2 dismissals in an innings. Taibu is the only keeper here.

All-round overall (minimum 5 innings batted and bowled):

AR-overall

Chibhabha is the only one who has some pretensions of being an all-rounder.

All-round match performance (minimum 20 runs and 2 wickets):

AR-match

Chibhabha again.

Now we await more meaty stuff in the WI v Ind and Eng v Pak series coming up.

Tail piece: Although Zimbabwe’s captain AG Cremer could not do much in this series, he does hold a world Test record for the best 4-wicket innings bowling: 4-4 against Bangladesh.

 

Remember 42 today

As you know, 42 is significant because:

“The number 42 is, in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, ” Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything“, calculated by an enormous supercomputer named Deep Thought over a period of 7.5 million years. Unfortunately, no one knows what the question is.”

But this post is not about that. Not even the 1971 film “Summer of ’42”, which the older generation would remember as one of the more daring films of that period.

It is to remind you that exactly 42 years ago, Indian cricket touched its nadir with 42 all out at Lord’s:

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/63126.html

Wisden’s match report:

http://www.espncricinfo.com/wisdenalmanack/content/story/152536.html

For whom the bell tolls

This has nothing to do with Hemingway’s novel, though it will appear again at the end.

There used to be a railway station called Ghanta, on the narrow gauge line from Champaner Road to Pani Mines in Gujarat:

Ghanta

This picture is probably from before the 1980s, before the bell tolled for this and many other narrow gauge lines (mainly in Gujarat). Many other lines such as the Satpura network had enough traffic to justify conversion.

The village of Ghanta appears to be in Vadodara district, but is too obscure to appear in Google Maps.

Here is an extract from the 1943 Bradshaw:

Champaner branch

As you can see, our station was served by only one pair of trains daily. The timetables of the 1970s were similar.

Champaner Road is on the Mumbai-Delhi main line, between Vadodara and Godhra. No important train stops there now.

It has nothing to do with the Champaner of Lagaan, which was shot at a place in Kutch district.

And the Ghanta has become symbolic of other things in India, such as this:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghanta_Awards

which may have been inspired by the Razzie awards of Hollywood.

Footnote: the title of Hemingway’s novel is from a poem by the 17th-century poet John Donne. Many of us would have come across this poem in school or college:

http://www.famousliteraryworks.com/donne_for_whom_the_bell_tolls.htm