Rail Quiz-May 2019

This time it is with a focus on ancient history.

Answers included below. Best results were by Debatra Mazumdar and Jishnu Mukerji.

  1. Look at this old picture of Delhi JnDelhi Jn NWR

Is there something wrong with it? Why or why not?

(Nothing wrong. It was in the North Western Railway until 1948.)

2. You know about the Grand Chord via Gaya and Dhanbad. Why is the word “Grand” used? You know it is a chord line with respect to the “main line” via Patna, so what is grand about it?

(The first line connecting Calcutta to northern India was along the Ganga via Sahibganj and Bhagalpur. This was running by the end of the 1860s. The next shortening was from Burdwan to Kiul via Asansol and Jhajha, which was opened in the 1870s and was called the Chord line. When the distance was shortened still further from Asansol to Mughal Sarai via Dhanbad and Gaya, the route was called the Grand Chord.)

3. Sticking to the Grand Chord, a look at Google Maps or other large-scale maps would show a sharp S-curve at Gaya. Is there any logical reason for this? After all, you would not like to have sharp curves on an important line.

(The Patna-Gaya line was completed first. Naturally as the line was in a north-south direction, the terminus at Gaya was aligned that way. When the Grand Chord came along with its slight north-west direction, there had to be sharp curves. You can see similar curves while traveling north or south through Itarsi. Many similar examples are there.)

4. You know Khanalampura near Saharanpur, which is a newly opened electric loco shed. In the past it was the siteĀ  for one of the largest marshalling yards in India. Now Saharanpur does not seem to be that important a junction, so why was such a yard constructed there?

(It was the main junction for goods interchange between the EIR and NWR, the largest systems of undivided India. It even had the largest steam shunters, the 0-8-0 XGs. These tended to damage the tracks so they became the 2-8-2 XG/Ms.)

5. There are a number of sugar factories along the line between Saharanpur and Meerut. One of them has building with a sign “E.P. Rly 1951”. Explain what this means.

(After partition, the portion of the NWR remaining in India was called the East Punjab Railway. This covered practically all of the present Punjab, Haryana and Delhi and parts of UP and Rajasthan. By 1954 it became part of the new Northern Railway.)

6. On August 13, 1947 which was the northern-most station on IR?

(Dargai in NWFP, on a branch going north from Nowshera. It has been closed for several years now.)

7. On August 13, 1947 which was the western-most station on IR? It was not (and still is not) part of India or even Pakistan.

(Zahidan (and Mirjawa to its east). They are in Iran, and Zahidan (earlier Duzdap) was the western terminus of the NWR and thus IR. There was apparently no stoppage at the border then. At that time Nok Kundi in Baluchistan was the westernmost station of IR in India. Trains ran from Quetta to Zahidan. Today the line still functions but there does not seem to be more than one train in either direction in a week.)

8. Walajah Road is a relatively minor station now. But it has an important place in India’s railway history. Why? And what was its earlier name?

(The first passenger train in South India ran from Madras (Royapuram) to here in 1855. It was then called Arcot, although that town is some distance away and has not been connected by rail yet.)

9. Until Partition, which was the only stoppage for most express trains between Amritsar and Lahore? Why was it an important station?

(While Atari and Wagah stations existed, they were served only by slow passenger trains. The one stop was at Moghalpura (one stop east of Lahore Jn), which was an important railway centre with a number of workshops and offices. It was earlier called Meean Meer East and then Lahore Cantt East).

10. Which station on the former EIR was the site of a long siege during the War of Independence in 1857?

(Arrah (now Ara) to the west of Patna. It is covered well in most histories of the war. Though the besieged building may not have been the station building, it was close to the line being constructed and was largely manned by troops and others connected to the railways. Another well-known but shorter siege was near Bharwari station, west of Allahabad).

Bonus: What similarity do you see between Abu Dhabi airport and Castle Rock station?

(A bit complex. Castle Rock is last station in British India (Bombay province) and independent India (Mysore state, later Karnataka) before entering Goa. Naturally, this was an international border until the end of 1961. The Portuguese customs and immigration staff were posted here and conducted their checks, before passengers could continue their journey to Goa.

Now the US has a similar agreement with several airports such as Abu Dhabi, Dublin and Shannon in Ireland, and several others in the Caribbean and Canada. There is even one such post at Vancouver railroad station in Canada. The US CBP conducts their checks here. If they don’t like you, it saves them the problem of sending you back from the US. And they cannot arrest you either.)