Book on Industrial Locomotives of South Asia

The more determined railway fans from South Asia would appreciate this weighty book by Simon Darvill (2013):

It gives most details of industrial locomotives which ran in the countries between Afghanistan and Myanmar. A special feature is the lengthy section on the British Army’s military railways in what is now India and Pakistan, including the large amount of rolling stock and other material sent to other theatres of WW1 and WW2.

An interesting point (which one had not come across earlier) is that there was a serious plan to lay a 2’0″ Decauville track across the Khyber Pass from the then railhead at Jamrud, crossing the border and extending into Dakka Fort in Afghanistan during the 3rd Afghan War in 1919. This was some years before the “real” broad gauge line was built to Landi Kotal and Landi Khana.

However, there is no mention of this little line in accounts of the war, so there is some doubt if it was actually built.

While the stress is on steam, there are plenty of diesel locomotives listed as well. Profusely illustrated with b/w photographs.

This book may be available from amazon com and amazon in. Otherwise it is available from specialized bookshops in the UK. Sellers can be located by using Google for the book’s title or ISBN no 9781901 556827

International shipping charges will be high as the packed weight is over 1.5 Kg.

 

 

 

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.)

Railway quiz-April 2019

Note that there is an underlying theme in most of the questions. If you understand this theme it will help.

  1. What do these stations have in common? For the bottom one, go by the sign you can see rather than the station name. Click to enlarge.

A: They are zonal headquarters but not divisional headquarters. The HQ of SER is near Howrah but there is no Howrah division of SER. In fact SER is a guest of ER at Howrah. (However, there is an Howrah division of ER). Similarly for Hajipur, Gorakhpur and Maligaon (in Guwahati city).

2. What connects the first 4 stations here? And what connected the 5th (bottom right) to the first 4 later?

A: SC, BZA, SUR and UBL were the original constituents of SCR when it was formed in 1966. SC and SUR were in CR, BZA and UBL in SR. After a few years SUR was moved back to CR and GTL was moved from SR to SCR.

3. What unusual feature does this station have (considering the above theme):

Nagpur

A: Nagpur is in CR and the SECR joins there. There is a Nagpur division both in CR and SECR. Like SER in Howrah, SECR does not own the Nagpur station.

4. What unusual features do these stations have (again, considering the above theme plus something else):

A: Chakradharpur, Danapur, Nanded and Izatnagar are divisional headquarters which are not junctions. Note: Izat is correct, not Izzat although even local people get this wrong.

5. The same theme, but somewhat different. What connects these stations? Think of pre-independence days.

A: Baroda, Gwalior, Trichnopoly and Jodhpur were zonal headquarters in the past but not now: for the Gaekwad of Baroda’s State Railway, Scindia State Railway, South Indian Railway and Jodhpur State Railway. Other examples include Bikaner, Mysore, Jaipur and several others.

Note: the best attempt was by Santosh Kulkarni, also known as Sant Kulk.

 

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.

More renamed stations (Revised Feb 2019)

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.

Farah TownDeen Dayal Dham

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

This station (SHRN) has now gained importance due to a Bhopal bypass from Nishatpura yard (north of Bhopal Jn) to this station on the west towards Ujjain, Indore and Nagda. It therefore acts as a proxy for Bhopal.

Robertsganj in eastern UP was renamed Sonebhadra.

Near Kanpur we have Panki renamed Panki Dham:

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 renamedĀ  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