Where passenger trains do not run-1

The Indian Railways have a number of routes which have goods traffic but little or no passenger traffic. Here are the route details for some of them. This is not supposed to be comprehensive. Details of port lines will be given in a subsequent article.

Ranippettai

Was in timetables earlier, now being revived for goods.

Remember that Walajah Road was the first terminus for trains starting from Madras. It was called Arcot at that time.

Bengdubi:

For military traffic.

Gadchandur:

Manikgarh is just south of Balharshah. This route does not seem to have had any passenger trains. It is primarily for cement traffic.

Ghoradongri:

This siding connecting Sarni town has existed for a long time. However, the distance is not mentioned here.

Ghugus:

The Tadali-Ghugus section was listed in timetables of the 1970s. Now it only has goods services. There was/is a cement factory at Ghugus.

Husainiwala:

This was part of the Ferozepore-Lahore route in the past. Nowadays it has DMU services once a year where pilgrims come to commemorate the sacrifices of Bhagat Singh and others.

Motumari-Jaggayapeta-Vishnupuram:

This was opened in the 80s to connect a cement plant at Jaggayapeta. It was later extended to Vishnupuram on the Nadikude-Bibinagar section. This could provide a connection with the North-South route with a point on the latter. So far, no passenger train has run here. This is apparently because low MPS on part of this route.

Palasthali:

Was earlier in the timetable.

Panipat Refinery:

Bhauli has not had passenger service.

Majri-Rajur:

Majri-Rajur was earlier in the timetable. Passenger trains still run from Majri to Wani and then to Pimpalkhuti and Adilabad. And coal trains still run from Rajur colliery.

Tirap siding:

Better known as the eastern-most point served by IR. It is a coal loading point. The closed Lekhapani station is a few km further east on an unconverted MG line.

Tuli:

Tuli is in Nagaland. The Amguri-Tuli section was earlier in the timetable with passenger services.

Butibori-Umred:

Was constructed long ago when Umred was on the Nagpur-Nagbhir NG line. Umred Colliery is a few km short of Umred station. So far no passenger trains have run here. This extension could open up another route for trains from Nagpur towards the south-east.

Ranajitpura:

For iron ore traffic. Ranajitpura station is located in the town of Donnamalai Township. This has never had passenger trains. Tornagallu is the site of the Vijayanagar airport.

Swamihalli:

Also for iron ore traffic. Vyasa Colony is the replacement for the closed Gunda Road junction which had an unsatisfactory location for BG traffic. Swamihalli was an MG terminus earlier.

Karampada:

Another iron ore line. The section beyond Karampada to Kiriburu and Meghataburu is closed.

The station Rakshi serves a place commonly spelt as Roxy.

An unofficial passenger service has sometimes operated here with a coach attached to a goods train. Even otherwise, local people are known to travel on the goods trains.

Daitari:

Not listed in the timetable. A number of steel plants were to come up near Daitari.

Tiger Hill:

Colliery line in Chhattisgarh.

If one studies the old maps of the Dhanbad coalfields area, you can see many routes where passenger trains have not run or a long time (or never). Jharia is one station which is unlikely to see any restoration of traffic.

There are a few short routes which are not covered here. In most cases they are built to connect mines or heavy industries.

NTPC runs a few long lines with intermediate stations, though they are not part of IR.

The lines connecting ports will be covered in part 2.

The vortex in Bhortex, and other stories

An average railfan would have seen the station of Bhortex in the WR timetable, and wondered how this “non-Indian” spelling came there. However, this is what you will see there:

This is in Maharashtra, on the Surat-Bhusaval section. You can see that it is spelt Bhortek (in English, Hindi and Marathi). A look at maps of the area confirms this. In fact, the timetable entry changed to Bhortex some years ago. It looks like a clerical error by the timetable department. But no one has bothered to change it. Bhortex also remains in the RBS site.

Another persistent error relates to this station:

This is in Punjab, near the Punjab-HP border on the Kangra Valley line. Anyone slightly familiar with Indian history would realize that the spelling is correct. This station serves the hill station of that name. But the NR timetables and the RBS site have chopped the last E for several years, and display Dalhousi Road today. This would again been a clerical error which no one has bothered to correct.

Now to Jharkhand, on the Gomoh-Daltonganj branch and not far from McCluskieganj we have:

The station is listed as Gumia. In the locality both Gumia and Gomia are used, especially as the only large industrial unit there uses Gomia. It appears that the local practice was initially to spell it Gumia, though Gomia became more widespread since the 1960s. Now even the station sign says Gomia, but the timetables and RBS still stick to the old name.

There are many instances of British names becoming Indianized, such as Worsleyganj becoming Waris Aleganj and McDonald’s Choultry becoming Magudan Chavadi. But there is one odd example from Bareilly in UP. You would have heard of the divisional headquarters at Izatnagar. Or is it Izzatnagar?

When you reach this station, you will see these signs:

So which is correct? In the vicinity you will see both varieties being used in shops and offices.

It was indeed Izatnagar to start with, named after a British railway manager named Alexander Izat. There is also an Izat Bridge elsewhere on the NER near Allahabad. But somehow the word “Izzat” crept in, and now features in the timetable and RBS.

But we can see that no one in the railways seems to care if the signs with different spellings are standing in close proximity.

More about Mr Izat and the Izat bridge here:

https://wiki.fibis.org/w/Izat_Bridge

Other misspellings have lasted for a few years before being corrected. Examples would be “Duckyard Road” for this:

This is in Mumbai on the Harbour Branch. Far away in the Nilgiris, this station

was listed as “Hillgroove” for some years. (These mistakes may have been because “duckyard” and “groove” are valid English words).

There are, of course, numerous stations where you will find signboards with different spellings, often on the same platform. Some well-known ones are Hafizpet/peta and Washer(man/men)pet which you can still see today.

We close with a station in a relatively remote part of Rajasthan, between Bandikui and Bharatpur. It is listed as Tarchhera Baraoli Ran. This is what you will see there:

So someone, either at the NWR headquarters or the local painter has messed up.

But if you check Google maps for this locality (at 27.21 N, 77.10 E) it is shown as Talchera Baraoliran. That is what the sign says. So the timetable is wrong again.

Now, does this really matter to most people including railway passengers of the area? Not really, since they usually know where they are going regardless of what the timetable or sign says.

But it does seem to show that the station sign is more likely to be correct than the official website or timetable.

Anyone seeking to create a practical railway guide or map should keep this in mind. In most cases pictures of the sign can be found in the site https://indiarailinfo.com/ at the entry for the particular station.

Welcome to Kevadiya

The route from Vadodara is given below:

Note that a narrow gauge line existed from Vishvamitri (VS) in the past. The section between VS to Dabhoi was converted to broad gauge some years ago. The less important narrow gauge branch to Chandod was later converted but did not seem to have any BG passenger service until now.

More recently, with the advent of the Statue of Unity it was decided to extend the broad gauge line a further 32 km to the dam township called Kevadiya Colony. This station was finally called Kevadiya. Electrification was also expedited from Dabhoi.

Here you can get the list of trains serving Kevadiya:

https://erail.in/trains-between-stations/kevadiya-KDCY/vadodara-jn-BRC

and

https://erail.in/trains-between-stations/vadodara-jn-BRC/kevadiya-KDCY

There has been some talk of this line (and indeed) the Statue of Unity being an unnecessary expenditure which may not be of much use to the nation. There are various arguments for and against this.

The long-distance trains will provide additional connectivity from some cities (especially Chennai) towards Surat and Vadodara where there may be a need for more capacity. And additional services from Ahmedabad and Mumbai towards these cities.

The Jan Shatabdi between Ahmedabad to Kevadiya will include Vistadome coaches, for what they are worth.

India’s Far West

As of today, it is well known that the western-most railway station in India is Varvala (long 68.97E) and the western-most terminus is Okha (69.07E)

The western-most junction was thought to be Kanalus (69.90E) but it is actually Wansjaliya (69.86E), which means about 4 km between the lines of longitude.

However, the western-most junction in the past was Khambaliya, which had a branch to the port of Salaya until the 1970s. Its longitude is 69.66E

The railway line up to Naliya (68.84E) has been closed for conversion to broad gauge for several years. This work is now progressing from Bhuj and may be completed in 2021. It is proposed to extend this line to Vayor (68.69E) which is north-west of Naliya.

So Varvala and Okha will lose their titles when the trains start running to Naliya.

The western-most airport with regular commercial flights is Bhuj (69.21E). While Bhuj has an IAF base, the military airport furthest west is the Naliya air base (near Naliya Cantt station) which is at 68.87E. It is known that the IAF has a helipad at Koteshwar on the coast at 68.53E. Naliya has fighter aircraft, and their Mig-21s shot down a Pakistani recconaissance aircraft close to the border in 1999.

Bhuj airport’s competitor is Porbandar at 69.64E. It includes enclaves of the Navy as well as the Coast Guard who also fly from there.

In due course the railway may reach Koteshwar. That is quite close to the western-most point of India, which is not as ill-defined as the northern-most point. This point on the mainland is 68.48E, while the western-most village appears to be Guhar Moti at 68.49E

You can amuse yourself with finding these places on this map link:

https://www.google.co.in/maps/place/Kutch,+Gujarat/@22.9416315,69.7547649,9z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x39511e0750db4489:0x2049bf8ec25dea88!8m2!3d23.7337326!4d

Up North

There seems to be only one station with “North” as a prefix:

While North is transliterated into Hindi, the word Uttor in Assamese is used.

Due to space constraints, the name in English is written as a single word.

Also in Assam there is

where North is transliterated into both Hindi and Assamese.

In the vicinity of Visakhapatnam there is

Here, the word for North is a prefix both for Hindi and Telugu.

Next to Coimbatore:

Interesting. The Tamil word Vadakku is used here, which is then transliterated into Hindi. There are several better-known instances like this in the Chennai area.

In Kerala, there is Vadakara (formerly Badagara).

The word Vadaka is North in Malayalam. However, the place name may not have intended to say this.

There are a few others like this in Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

Still in Tamil Nadu:

It is easy to check that the station and locality are “North”. However just the initial for N is used in all three languages.

Finally, this station was known as Ernakulam North from the time it was opened in the late 1930s until the late 1950s.

Local people still habitually refer to it as North station, which can cause problems to outsiders who do not know this. Like the case of Cantt station for Varanasi Jn.

Kalupur for Ahmedabad and Nampalli for Hyderabad are different cases since these stations never officially had these names.

Thanks to Ganesh Iyer and Milan Chatterjee for more ideas.

Why does this station exist? – continued.

While most railway routes run between major cities, the stations in between would include fairly large stations which may not be justified by the local population. These could be junctions which have to be at particular locations, or loco sheds and watering/coaling points at suitable intervals preferably with a good water supply, or workshops which need space as well as a suitable supply of skilled and unskilled labor.

I am giving a few samples of each case. This is not meant to be an exhaustive listing, and anyone who wants to enumerate all cases in each category is welcome to do so.

Junctions in small places:

Amla, Arakkonam, Bhusaval, Bina, Daund, Dornakal, Gomoh, Gudur, Guntakal, Itarsi, Jolarpettai, Katni, Kazipet, Kharagpur, Khurda Road, Kiul, Lumding, Manmad, Mughal Sarai, Shoranur, Tundla, Villupuram, Viramgam.

(Of course, some like Mughal Sarai are not too far from larger urban centres.)

Rajasthan has a number of these, e.g. Bandikui, Bayana, Degana, Luni, Marwar, Merta Road, Phulera, Ratangarh.

Loco sheds in small places:

(These include those which are not junctions):

Abu Road, Balharshah, Bitragunta, Dongargarh, Gangapur City, Jhajha.

Major railway workshops/offices in small places not counted so far:

Adra, Alipur Duar, Chakradharpur, Chittaranjan, Dahod, Danapur, Jagadhri, Jamalpur, Kapurthala, Marhaura, Mariani, Podanur, Rangiya, Rewari, Yelahanka.

Sometimes one can guess why a steam loco shed (or at least a watering point) was located at a particular place, considering that steam locos had to stop every 150-200 km.

Considering the Mumbai-Delhi (WR) route:

Valsad is 194 km from MMCT and 197 km from Vadodara.

Gangapur City is 171 km from Kota and 153 km from Mathura.

Try to see the logic of the location of Bitragunta, Dongargarh, Jhajha etc.

However, Balharshah gets in because it was the terminus of the Nizam’s State Railway for a long time before the GIPR reached it.

Why does this station exist? – an introduction

If you look closely at the major railway routes in South Asia and elsewhere, you will notice fairly large railway facilities at places which were not important towns to begin with. So there must have been some reasons for locating these stations at a particular place.

Sometimes the reasoning was clearly stated. In the earlier days of the East Indian Railway the large workshops and training centres were set up at Jamalpur in Bihar. The EIR administration did say that they did not want the junior employees to be distracted by the bright lights of Calcutta.

Another peculiar station was Barog on the Kalka-Shimla route. This station does not have much population in the vicinity and exists primarily to provide food to the passengers. (Although there is a larger town Solan few km away),

On the micro scale, crossing stations needed to be set up for the convenience of smooth running on single line sections. There are literally hundreds of such stations all over the country. For example, persons familiar with the Haridwar-Dehradun area would know Motichur and Kansrao stations which exist only for crossing purposes.

Junctions would need to be set up where important routes met. Other stations with coaling and watering facilities for steam locos would need to be set up at certain intervals. Sometimes this could be done at the junctions. If not, a large station would have to be set up at a place which was not already a junction. The criteria for location would be that it would be 100-250 km from the nearest station with similar facilities.

We will look at such stations on the trunk routes in subsequent blogposts.

If at first you don’t succeed……

 

You may aspire to winning a Nobel Prize. But you may have to be satisfied with an Ig-Nobel Prize.

And there is at least one person who won an Ig-Nobel Prize before getting a Nobel Prize a decade later:

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

especially this bit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andre_Geim#Ig_Nobel

Similarly, if you cannot reach Singapore during the lockdown you can go to:

This place in Odisha was once listed as Singapore Road. Later it became Singapuram Road before settling on its present name.

If you cannot reach Kuala Lumpur, there is

This is in the hills of southern Assam.

If you want to visit the capital of New Zealand, there is

in the Nilgiris. Both are named after the same person.

Riga is the capital of Latvia in Europe. For this we have one in Bihar:

This Riga was of some interest to steam enthusiasts, as you can see above.

If you wish to venture further to Dundee in Scotland, there is

near Jabalpur in MP.

Not sure if you really want to go to Accra in Ghana. For that, we have this place near Kolkata:

A smaller country in Africa is called Guinea-Bissau. For that we have Bissau in Rajasthan:

However, you have to draw the line somewhere. If you are going to Jakarta and you are sent to this place instead, you should not accept it.

This is in one of the more remote parts of Uttarakhand, where the Special Frontier Force roams. Even the elite troops of the Mukti Bahini trained here in 1971.

 

Quick quiz-Place names with initials.

Try to find the full forms of these place names. Google may help in some cases:

  1. An easy one to start with. What is Wimco?
?????????????

2. Which station? And what important railway facilities are there?

3. What is DMW?

4. What does DAV stand for?

5. What is WRS? and which city is nearby?

6. This is not in West Bengal, but in another state where Bengali is the main language. What does S.K. stand for?

ANSWERS BELOW:

  1. WIMCO stands for the Western India Match Company, a long-standing MNC which was taken over by ITC in the 2000s. The main factories were in Ambernath and Chennai (which had this station which remains after the factory was closed).
  2. NKJ= New Katni Jn. A major electric loco shed is nearby (with locos marked NKJ). There is also a diesel loco shed nearby with locos marked “Katni”.
  3. Diesel Loco Modernization Works at Patiala. It was earlier known as Diesel Component Works, which had the initials DCW. https://dmw.indianrailways.gov.in/
  4. There are DAV colleges and schools in many towns in northern India. This stands for Dayanand Anglo Vedic. There is also a halt station for DAV College Jalalabad, a smaller town in Punjab.
  5. The Wagon Repair Shop colony in Raipur.
  6. Sindhu Kumar Para in Tripura. It is not clear why a relatively short name like this needs initials.

The quickest good responses were from Ganesh Iyer and Pavel Ghosh.

The mystery of T-Sakibanda

The station of T-Sakibanda lies between Guntakal and Ballari. It is in Anantapur district of Rayalseema region of Andhra Pradesh and close to the Karnataka border.

https://indiarailinfo.com/station/map/t-sakibanda-tkbn/5177

Note the peculiar spelling of T-Sakibanda. Not like the better known Tsunduru elsewhere in Andhra Pradesh. The hyphen after the T is clearly shown in this sign for all three languages.

Even the local map does not throw light on this:

https://www.google.co.in/maps/place/T+Sakibanda/@15.162225,77.1762175,17z/data=!4m12!1m6!3m5!1s0x3bb6e59021aaaaab:0xfbacafc56bc15ed7!2sGuntakal+Railway+Junction!8m2!3d15.1755264!4d77.3667171!3m4!1s0x3bb71d91288ded59:0xd9664510b32d1c8f!8m2!3d15.1632802!4d77.1779197

Could it be a word like Tehsil or Taluk? Such words would normally be spelt out in a place name (e.g. Tahsil Bhadran, Kasur Tahsil). Anyway, in AP we have divisions and mandals.

From Google we get another T Sakibanda in faraway YSR (Kadapa) district. This has an alternative spelling of Chaki Banda (just like Chunduru for Tsunduru). Perhaps that is the explanation. But why the hyphen? Was someone fond of T-series cassettes or perhaps T-bone steaks?

Partly inspired by this book: https://www.amazon.in/Bermuda-Triangle-Mystery-Solved/dp/0879759712

More recent name changes in Uttar Pradesh

Earlier we have dealt with the renaming of Allahabad Jn and nearby changes to reflect the old name of Prayagraj. There are a number of other name changes in UP over the last couple of years. Some are well known and others have been hardly mentioned in the media.

The most well known change was this:

Mughal Sarai

New Mughalsarai (DDU)

As in the case of Allahabad/Prayagraj, there was a long gap between the announcement of the change and its actual implementation. So a number of photoshopped pictures appeared in the local media, like this:

DDU @ MGS fake pic

As we know, Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya was found dead near this station in 1968. The circumstances of his death have never been satisfactorily explained, and may well become a never-ending mystery like the deaths of Subhash Chandra Bose and Lal Bahadur Shastri.

Other changes which attracted less attention:

Farah Town (between Mathura and Agra Cantt) became Deen Dayal Dham – as Panditji was born in that area.

Panki (near Kanpur) became Panki Dham:

Robertsganj became Sonebhadra (which is the name of the district):

Chanehti became Bareilly Cantt:

And someone will have to decide which of these is correct, as the staff at the station (as well as the local authorities) in Bareilly do not seem to be sure:

It was indeed named after a British railway manager named Charles Izat, though somehow it morphed into Izzat over the years. Interestingly, both names are seen on signs in the locality.

Return to Allahabad

Here you see the map of railways around Allahabad (with an inset on the left). This is from “The Great Indian Railway Atlas”, 2015 edition.

Railways around Allahabad

And some of the existing station signboards:

This one has already had its name changed:

CheokiAllahabad Cheoki

The main station and a fake picture of it from a few months ago:

Other stations in the area:

Finally, there is a notification dated Feb 23, 2020 stating that these name changes will now take effect:

Allahabad railway name changes

Allahabad Division of NC Rly now becomes Prayagraj Division.

So now you have it. Prayag Jn will apparently remain as it is.

Allahabad City station was locally referred to as Rambagh station as that is the locality. (similar to Nampalli for HYB and Kalupur for ADI).

Allahabad Fort is shown in the map. But it does not seem to have had scheduled passenger services.

Chheoki will be renamed for the second time within a few years. But it was a non-timetabled station for many years.

Meanwhile, Gurgaon station awaits renaming to Gurugram.