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.

Military rule over the Indian Railways

There are many stations named “Cantonment” and “Fort” and even Barrackpore. Here we look at military personnel.

Start at the bottom with “Sepoydhura”, a halt station north of Kurseong on the Darjeeling line. It was closed long ago. Next in the hierarchy is

(Just west of Allahabad on the main line).

Moving up the hierarchy we come to

(North-east of Gorakhpur).

Still further up:

(Near Gonda, yet again in Uttar Pradesh).

Now we are stuck. There is a locality in Kanpur called Generalganj which is fairly close to CNB, but does not have a station. And Senapati district in Manipur, far from any railway.

The term “Chhatrapati” is “protector”, strictly speaking. But that title was given to Shivaji who was a successful military leader.

Maharashtra comes to the rescue with the renamed Bombay VT:

There are numerous smaller places named after war heroes, often from the distant past. And those named after British officials, some of whom were from the military.

One example is from the mid-19th century, commemorating Major Sleeman who led the operations against the Thugs of central India:

This is between Jabalpur and Katni in MP.

A relatively newer one is

which is between Jodhpur and Jaisalmer. It is named after Major Shaitan Singh, Param Vir Chakra awardee from the 1962 war. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shaitan_Singh

There must be a few others from the post-independence era which I missed out.

India’s far north

Those familiar with the Indian Railways would know that the northern-most station is Sopore (lat 34.26 N). It is just ahead of the terminus at Baramula (34.22).

It is uncertain if any further railway lines in this area will be built in the next few years. One plan included a connection to Kupwara (34.53) which should be the northern-most station in India if the line is built.

Meanwhile, the northern-most station which is connected to the rest of IR’s network is SMVD Katra at 32.98

The title of the northern-most junction is a tie between Pathankot and Bharoli which are at 32.27. This is a tie when latitudes are measured to 2 decimal places.

The northern-most airport with regular commercial flights is Leh (34.14) which is just ahead of Srinagar (33.99)

The northern-most airport with regular military transport flights is Daulat Beg Oldi (35.39) It is said to be 8 km south of the border with China. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daulat_Beg_Oldi

There may be helicopter landing grounds in the Siachen Glacier at still higher latitudes.

Down South

Completing our study of station names including directions.

The word South is Dakshin/Dakshina/Dakkhin in several languages including Hindi, Bengali, Kannada and Telugu.

This listing is not supposed to be comprehensive.

We start with

Here, South is transliterated into both languages.

Similarly here:

This pair from Andhra Pradesh is more interesting:

In the older sign above, South is transliterated into both languages.

In the newer sign, the correct Hindi and Telugu words are used.

And this station does not appear to have any passenger services.

The correct Hindi and Kannada words have been used here.

“South” also appears in the middle of a name, like in this station on the Kanpur-Banda section:

Guest appearances:

This was known as Ernakulam South from the late 1930s to the late 1950s. However, a fair number of local people persist in using the old name (as in the case of Ernakulam Town) which still causes trouble to visitors.

Simlarly, Ashokapuram was earlier known as Mysore South (long before Mysuru appeared).

There are a number of stations in Bengal which start with Dakkhin. The best known must be:

However, the place name may not originally have anything to do with the word South.

Another is

There is indeed a better-known Barasat in the Kolkata area, though this station is far from there.

One may argue that this (below) is not really a separate station. But you can see this sign inside the Sealdah complex:

Thanks to S Aravind, Ganesh Iyer and others for their suggestions.

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.

City in the news

This small city in Western Uttar Pradesh is in the news.

It is unusual in that there are 4 different stations with that small city’s name.

If you take the trouble to study the geography, you will see that Hathras Jn is a small town centred around the station. While this is on the BG main line from Delhi to Allahabad, Hathras Road is on a (former MG, now BG) branch which crosses the main line. So they are practically at the same location. Part of Hathras Road station is on a bridge which crosses the main line at one end of Hathras Jn. This would be apparent from the picture of Hathras Road above.

Hathras City (the main town) is on the same branch line mentioned above which is on the North Eastern Railway. Hathras Killah is on a short branch line from Hathras Jn.

They are on the North Central Railway.

Confusing? See if this helps:

https://www.google.co.in/maps/search/Hathras+Jn/@27.60885,78.0931984,14z

Mendu is a small station lying between Hathras Road and Hathras City.

From the map, you can also see that Killah and City are quite close.

Long quiz-Sep 2020

  1. What is special about this station?

2. What is special about the BG siding here?

3. What is unusual about these two station signs? Explain.

4. What additional language is on this sign?

5. This is often labelled as “Nawab Station”, although no such name is in the timetable. Which station is this?

6. With luck, you may be able to get tuna at Tuni station. But there was another station called Tuna in the past. In which present-day state is it?

7. Bengali travelers can try to get fish at this station restaurant. Which state or province is it in?

8. Many clocks at stations and other public places were supplied by P. Orr & Sons of Madras. This small station is far from Madras. In which state?

9. Consider these two pairs of stations:

9A

and 9B:

What do the pair in 9A have in common with the pair in 9B?

10. What is unusual about this station which is not in India?

11. This shows the abandoned station which used to be a ferry terminal as well as being adjacent to a zonal headquarters until the mid-60s. Name it.

12. The fate of Dhanushkodi is well known. But you can still see the remains of it. A small terminus in the North-East was less fortunate as it fell into the Brahmaputra after an earthquake in the 1950s. Which was it?

ANSWERS:

The best response was by Biswarup Basu. Honourable mention to Ganesh Iyer and Bharat Parashar:

  1. Kot Kapura is the northern most point of metre gauge in India. It was connected by MG to Bathinda and Fazilka, which are to its south.
  2. The Tirap siding is beyond Ledo, and is the eastern most point of IR in India. BG goods trains run there. Further east there is the abandoned MG line to Lekhapani. There are also non-IR industrial lines nearby.
  3. The normal practice is to have the state’s official language on top. In Nagaland (Dimapur) and Mendipathar (Meghalaya), English script is used for official purposes so it is on top.
  4. Dogri language, which is one of the 22 official languages.
  5. This is a part of Rampur station (between Bareilly and Moradabad in UP). This platform had been used for the royal train of the Nawab of Rampur. The dilapidated platform and coaches are probably still there.
  6. In Gujarat, on an abandoned portion of the Cutch State Railway.

7. Balochistan, at the foot of the Bolan Pass going to Quetta. This station, like Karjat, is the base for banking locomotives for uphill trains.

8. Madhya Pradesh, on the Kota-Bina section.

9. These are connected with unusual gauges which were not used anywhere else on IR. The Arconum-Conjeevaram line was initially constructed with 3’6″ and was soon converted to metre gauge, and finally to broad gauge more recently. The Azimganj-Nalhati section was initially constructed with 4’0″ and was soon converted to broad gauge. This loco was converted at the same time and can still be seen at the National Rail Museum.

10. Quasba (Kamalasagar until the late 40s) is in Bangladesh on the main line from Akhaura to Chattogram. It is practically on the border with India and trains can easily be observed from the Indian side.

11. Pandu, on the south bank of the Brahmaputra. A ferry service from Aminigaon ran there until the mid-1960s. The NF zone headquarters was initially here and later moved to Maligaon.

12. Saikhowa Ghat, on a branch from Makum. This branch now terminates at Dangari.

 

Place names with initials

We have now covered places whose commonly used names include initials. The initials may not always be obvious.

A Maharashtrian passing BG Nagar may think it was named after Bal Gangadhar Tilak. JK Puram in Andhra Pradesh has nothing to do with the JK Singhania group, but is Jaggambhotla Kamalapuram. There are numerous TTs in Mumbai which refer not to table tennis but Tram Terminuses. (Not termini, though only some words ending with -us end in i)

Let us look at some station names which include initials:

Most of you should be clear as to what the initials stand for.

In some cases the initials are spelt out:

But there are some which are more difficult to decipher. We shall see more of these.

More mysteries in Karnataka

After solving the mystery of T-Sakibanda , the Special Investigative Team turned its attention to mysterious names in Karnataka. They are relatively new, as they came up in the last decade on the Bengaluru-Hassan line via Shravanabelagola. We first take up B.G. Nagar station:

All the languages mention only the initials B.G. Looking in the map of the surroundings, there is no immediate clue to the full form of B.G. Nagar.

There is however the BGSIT or BGS Institute of Technology nearby:

https://www.google.co.in/maps/place/BGS+INSTITUTE+OF+TECHNOLOGY/@12.9651433,76.7262857,16z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x3bafeed69801ae53:0xa9dd86aab57869ad!8m2!3d12.9651433!4d76.7284744

The institute’s website http://www.bgsit.ac.in/ indicates that its name is in commemoration of a person named

Sri Sri Sri Dr.Balagangadharanatha Maha Swamiji

Founder President, Sri Adichunchanagiri Matt

So now you know what the B.G. stands for. You could not expect the full name to come on the station sign. Case closed.

Our next visit is to D. Samudhravalli, further west after Shravanabelagola.

Here you can see that D is followed by a full stop. What does D stand for?

The station is at a place called Samudravalli while D Samudravalli is another place which is not on the railway.

That still does not help us.

By googling for Samudravalli, we identify a nearby place called B Samudravalli.

It looks like there are different places called A, B, C and D Samudravalli as it needs to be administered in four parts.

Case closed.

The Special Investigative Team is looking for more such cases to study. So far they could find BEML Nagar and VOC Nagar which are easy to expand. So some more place names with odd initials will have to be identified.