The longest railway tunnels in India-June 2018

The list of long railway tunnels in India have undergone frequent changes in recent years. Fortunately the Wikipedia article seems to have been kept up to date:

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

In undivided India the 3.92 km long Khojak tunnel in Baluchistan had been opened in 1892; for more details see :

https://abn397.wordpress.com/2015/08/28/the-rail-tunnel-in-baluchistan-which-appeared-on-a-currency-note/

This was in fact the longest rail tunnel in South Asia until the Konkan Railway opened in the late 1990s. As you can see from the above list, the majority of the long tunnels are on the Konkan route. The longest is the Karbude tunnel at 6.5 km.

Some other longer tunnels opened in recent years the Sangar tunnel (2.4 km) on the Jammu-Udhampur section and the slightly longer Khowai tunnel on the Karimganj-Agartala section which was recently converted from MG to BG. Other examples in the North-East included some old and new ones on the Lumding-Badarpur section, and some yet to come up in Manipur. One tunnel of 1.9 km length on the existing Lumding-Badarpur metre gauge alignment has been abandoned, although a longer one on 3.2 km has come up on the new BG alignment.

There are some older and shorter tunnels on the trunk lines, notably at Monkey Hill, Parsik, Saranda and Gurpa.

However, the longest tunnel on IR is the 11.2 km long Pir Panjal tunnel between Banihal and Qazigund which provides a link between Jammu and Srinagar. More details can be seen here:

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

Opened in 2013, it will be part of the main route into the Kashmir valley once the problem-ridden section between Katra and Banihal is completed in the next few years. At the moment it serves a number of DMU passenger trains between Banihal and Baramulla (though some run only upto Budgam just north of Srinagar). These trains seem to be popular with the local people at the Banihal end as they save a lot of time and distance compared to the road route between Banihal and Qazigund. And the rail route is far less likely to be disrupted by snow than the road route.

It is likely to be the longest rail tunnel in India for a long time to come. There is expected to be a 8-km long tunnel on the uncompleted Katra-Banihal section which would take over the second spot from the Karbude tunnel. It will still exceed the two long road tunnels under construction at the Rohtang Pass and Patnitop, although the latter would also result in a considerable saving in distance on the Udhampur-Banihal road route.

Advertisements

More renamed stations

We have earlier covered stations which have been recently renamed in Karnataka. Here we take up a few more which have been renamed in the recent past, as well as those which were supposed to be renamed but have so far not been changed.

Starting with Sunam in Punjab, named after one of its famous sons:

Farah Town (between Mathura and Agra) now appears in railway databases as Deen Dayal Dham. Pandit DDU was born in that area. No picture of the new sign could be found.

Farah Town

While the renaming of this small station did not attract much attention in the media, this one certainly did as it is a major junction:

Similarly, Gurgaon is now officially Gurugram but the Railways have not made any changes yet.

Mhow has been renamed:

Mhow was the birthplace of Dr. Ambedkar. His family was originally from Maharashtra, but his father was serving in the armed forces at Mhow.

And yet another one near Bhopal (thanks to the photographer who furnished this two-in -one picture).

Bairagarh and successor

Robertsganj in eastern UP was to be renamed Sonebhadra. The Railways have not implemented this yet:

Robertsganj

Jagadhri (between Saharanpur and Ambala) has become Yamuna Nagar-Jagadhri. This has some logic as Yamunanagar is the larger and better known of the two.

Jagadhri Workshop station remains unchanged.

Malkhedi was renamed Bina Malkhedi, after a new bypass line caused many long-distance trains to skip Bina and stop at this station instead:

A similar case is seen in the bypass station of Chheoki, which has become Allahabad Chheoki to reduce confusion among passengers. However, unlike Bina Malkhedi, Chheoki was there since British times and was used by a limited number of trains such as the Imperial Mail. It was not used for a long time and started reappearing in timetables from the 2000s.

From Mumbai we have:

Elsewhere, a new station was supposed to be named Oshiwara. At the last moment it was changed to:

Ram Mandir station

Another change was first reported in 2009 but has not occurred yet. Silchar was to be renamed  Bhasa Shahid Silchar. It remains as it is:

Silchar station

A nice new building has come up recently:

Silchar exterior

However someone has put this little sign near the station entrance. So far it has not been disturbed:

Silchar Bhasa Shahid

The story behind this would be known to anyone familiar with the history of Cachar and adjoining districts.

 

Views of the Indian Railways in 1944

Some collections on the net include pictures taken by US servicemen serving in India during World War 2. A few samples:

Thadi (very old)

This is between Visakhapatnam (then Waltair) and Rajahmundry. It now looks like this:

Thadi (new)

Like most of the Golden Quad, the route is now double-tracked and electrified. This station was then on the Madras & Southern Mahratta Railway, then Southern Railway and now the South Central Railway.

Another one from the East Coast. Probably this city is more well known because of its cricket connection:

Vizianagaram ( very old)

Note the presence of 5 languages including Urdu and Telugu. It was then part of the Madras Presidency which extended up to Chatrapur in present-day Odisha. This station was then on the Bengal Nagpur Railway, later the Eastern Railway for a short time, then South Eastern and finally the East Coast Railway.

Here is another picture some years later (maybe the 1970s):

Vizianagaram (old)

By now it was part of Andhra Pradesh. Someone seems to think it was on the South Central Railway, but it never was. It still had Odiya due to its closeness to the state border. This is what it looks like today:

Vizianagaram

By now it strictly follows the 3-language format with the local language at the top, followed by Hindi and English. However, a number of stations close to the state borders still have signs in the language of the neighboring state. Examples can be found in Jharkhand (Bengali), Kerala/Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka/Telangana among others.

This one also dates from 1944 and is better known:

Sealdah 1944

This is obviously Sealdah as in those days all destinations to the east of the Hooghly were covered by the Sealdah-based Eastern Bengal Railway. At that time it had been merged with the Assam Bengal Railway to form the Bengal & Assam Railway, which itself ceased to exist at partition. However, East Pakistan used the title of Eastern Bengal Railway for all lines in its territory until 1961. The remnants lying in India essentially became the Sealdah Division of the East Indian Railway and then the Eastern Railway.

Most trains from Calcutta to the East ran via the Ranaghat-Darsana route which is still used by the Maitri Express. The border station of Gede did not exist then.

Trains going to the Jessore and Khulna side went via Bongaon-Benapol. The border station of Petrapol came up later.

I am trying to reconcile these timings with a Bradshaw of 1943 and will write more about the routes of these trains later. For the Darjeeling Mail route, see here

The Khulna route is described here

Rail Quiz No 5

The earlier quizzes can be found in the archives of this blog.

Like the earlier ones, the questions relate to a set of station signs. Copyrights for the pictures rest with the original photographers.

A) What do these stations have in common?

DarjeelingMatheranSheopur Kalan

If you have got the answer to A), that will help you to get the answers to the subsequent questions:

B1):

AmtaBilara

 

B2):

BhindKishanganjShivpuri

What do the stations in B1) and B2) have in common with those in A) ?

What is the difference between the stations in set B1) and B2) ?

This is somewhat more complicated as some changes to stations in B1) and B2) occurred over 60 years ago.

THE ANSWERS: Darjeeling, Matheran and Sheopur Kalan are (the only) terminuses of branch lines on 2’0″ gauge. Amta and Bilara WERE terminuses of branch lines of 2″0″ gauge and are now BG terminuses. Shivpuri, Bhind and Kishanganj WERE terminuses of branch lines of 2″0″ gauge and are now BG wayside stations.

The first (mostly) correct answers were from Anuj Budhkar and Samit Roychoudhury.

Afterthought: In the picture of Sheopur Kalan you can see what may the last goods wagons on the 2’0″ gauge on IR. There may be some on the Darjeeling line but they are not in regular use either.

The infamous station of Seroni Road (why?) also lies on the line to Sheopur Kalan.

Seroni Road

Return to Karnataka (Revised April 2018)

If you are returning to Karnataka after a few years, you may find many railway stations with unfamiliar names. Here are all of the recently renamed stations for which pictures are readily available. Copyrights of the pictures rest with the respective photographers.

 

The only non-obvious one is Saidapur, formerly Narayanpeth Road.  As the station now named Chikkamagalur was opened as recently as 2013, I am not sure if it ever had the original name of Chikmagalur. The sign at Tumakuru is the most recent one to be changed.

Then there are a few stations which are supposed to be renamed, although no pictures of the new signboards could be seen on the net until mid-April 2018. These existing stations are:

 

While Shimoga Town and two nearby stations have been renamed in railway databases, no picture of the new station signs have turned up so far. While the Karnataka government has renamed Gulbarga to Kalaburgi, the old name remains in the railway databases.

Here is a notification issued by the South Western Railway:

SWR Karnataka renaming

A few places such as MNGT and UBLS are not passenger stations. While SUBL looks like a passenger station, it does not seem to have passenger services at present.

This does not include Mangaluru Central and Mangaluru Jn which are on the Southern Railway. They have indeed been renamed and the signboards have been changed. Then there is Gulbarga/Kalaburgi which is on the Central Railway. While the new name can be seen on signs in the city, the name has NOT been changed in the databases and the signs remain unchanged.

Kalaburagi town sign

And there are several which were renamed in the last 70 years or so, including Bowringpet, Sagara, Yedatore, Seringapatnam, Closepet and French Rocks. I may have missed out a few.

Mysore state was itself renamed to Karnataka in 1973. This was justified as the former princely state of Mysore was not the only constituent of the Kannada-speaking state, which also included Coorg (Kudagu) state and parts of the Bombay Presidency, Madras Presidency and Hyderabad state.

The goonda stations of Indian railways

This one is better known:

Gunda Bihar

It was in Bihar and is now in Jharkhand. It is on the way from Chandil to Muri. A number of express trains  pass this way, but only two pairs of passenger trains stop here-one between Tatanagar and Hatia and another between Tatanagar and Barkakana.

This one in Karnataka is nominally a junction, but has fallen on bad days:

Gunda RoadGunda Road-2

You can see the branching of lines in these pictures. This station is on a branch running south from Hosapete (formerly Hospet). At this junction (which must qualify as one of the smallest and most rudimentary stations with the title of junction) short lines ran to Kotturu and Swamihalli. There used to be heavy iron ore traffic on the then metre gauge line from Swamihalli.

In due course these lines were converted to broad gauge. From Kotturu a new BG line was extended to Harihar, near Hubli on the Pune-Bengaluru route. It was then discovered that the slopes on the BG line between Gunda Road and Kotturu were too steep for safe running, so no train runs there. The line from Kotturu to Harihar has one pair of trains a day. Goods trains appear to run from Hosapete to Swamihalli though there seems to be a bypass around Gunda Road. No passenger service runs on this line.

Then there are place names such as Ramgundam.

I don’t know about the etymology of the place in Jharkhand, but “Gundam” is a body of water in languages such as Kannada. This would not have anything to do with the Japanese animes of the same name. And Karnataka had a CM called Gundu Rao.

 

The Darjeeling Mail of 1943

This is from a much-copied Bradshaw from 1943. The exact date is not clear. However, by then the Eastern Bengal Railway and Assam Bengal Railway had been merged in a short-lived marriage resulting in the Bengal & Assam Railway in order to facilitate the war against Japan. The US armed forces had then taken over most of the train traffic going into Assam. For once, the British took a back seat in India.

It would be instructive to compare these timings with those of the pre-war period (say 1939) as wartime shortages and military traffic may have reduced speeds considerably. Wartime exigencies caused a number of branch lines in different parts of India to close by 1940, some never to reopen.

The timings of the up and down Mail:

Darj Mail 001

Note that the full details of stations and trains between Sealdah and Ranaghat are not given above. They are given below:

Ranaghat1 001Ranaghat2 001

Coming back to the main timetable above, the future border stations of Gede/Darsana and Chilhati/Haldibari can be seen. Not exactly, as Gede station was built after Partition. The last station on the Indian side in this timetable would be Banpur. On the Pakistani side, the existing Darsana station was felt to be too close to the enemy border so a new Darsana station was built a little further east, which lay on the new main line from Khulna to the north. Similarly New Gitaldaha was built somewhat further from the earlier Gitaldaha which was close to the border.

The old network of the EBR was so Calcutta-centric that important towns in the western half of East Pakistan had never been connected before. Even for that a new line had to be constructed between Jessore and new Darsana, somewhat like the far more complicated Assam Rail Link which India built in 1948-50.

The Hardinge Bridge is near Paksey station.

Also note the station of Hili which lies exactly on the border. The Radcliffe Commission stated that in that area the border was defined as the railway line is. Even till the 2000s  it was considered the easiest place to come and go between India and Bangladesh.

At the northern end, the terminus of Siliguri later became the unimportant station of Siliguri Town, between the newly built major stations of Siliguri Jn to its north and later New Jalpaiguri to the south. The NG line was later extended south to New Jalpaiguri to connect with the broad gauge.

You can also see the BG Assam Mail up to Parbatipur. The MG Assam Mail ran from there via Lalmonirhat, Gitaldaha and Golakganj to the Brahmaputra ferry which ran between Aminigaon and Pandu, with a shuttle connection to Gauhati. Wagons were connected to goods trains going further east. Much of the freight ended up on the Ledo Road to China and the numerous air bases from where US transport aircraft flew to China. The toll of men and machines on these flights over the Himalayas were huge, and many crashed aircraft have not been found even 70 years later. Others continue to be discovered by dedicated researchers: see http://www.miarecoveries.org/

There was the Surma Mail (from the first page) which had a rather tortuous route-Sealdah to Ishurdi and Sirajganj Ghat, connecting steamer to Jagannathganj Ghat, connecting MG train to Mymensingh, Akhaura and Chittagong.

The Calcutta/Ranaghat pages show trains which went to Goalundo Ghat with ferry connections to Narayanganj (for Dacca) and Chandpur (for Silchar). At some time there was also a connection from Chandpur to Chittagong.