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.

The Inter-Railway junctions of 1963

The Indian Railways had 17 zones at last count. Life was simpler in the past. In 1963 there were only 8 zones as the SCR was yet to come.

The All-India timetables of those days used to carry a list of Inter-Railway junctions. It was quite a long list, but it was swollen by the 9 Non-Government light railways which had their space at the end of the timetable. In the timetable of October 1963 they were:

  Dehri Rohtas Light Railway (DR)

Arrah Sasaram Light Railway (AS)

Futwah Islampur Light Railway (FI)

Howrah Amta Light Railway (HA)

Howrah Sheakhala Light Railway (HS)

Shahdara Saharanpur Light Railway (SS)

Ahmadpur Katwa Light Railway (AK)

Burdwan Katwa Light Railway (BK)

Bankura Damodar River Railway (BD)

For more about them you can see these earlier blogposts:

https://abn397.wordpress.com/2015/10/28/the-non-government-railways-of-india-in-1964-and-what-happened-to-them/

and

 https://abn397.wordpress.com/2019/11/19/the-non-government-railways-of-the-1940s/

Here you can see the list of junctions given in the All-India Timetable

Note that the ones in bold type are the ones between regular zones. Some comments are given on the right.

Many changes occurred over the years, starting with the formation of the South Central Railway in 1966 with two divisions of CR and two of SR. A further adjustment was made between CR and SC in the 1970s. And the great reorganization of 2002-2003 brought the number of zones to 16 (though the Konkan Railway is not a zone) and then 17 when the Kolkata Metro became a zone.

And all the light railways were either closed or incorporated into the main zones.

Balharshah was not an inter-railway junction prior to 1966, but now it is.

Raichur had been an inter-railway junction right from the 1870s, but now it is not.

Waltair/VSKP remains an inter-railway junction since the east coast line was opened in the 1900s.

Kuchaman Road itself is closed when the route was re-aligned to be further away from the Sambhar Lake. Then the WR and NR joined at Phulera. And when the NWR was formed, there was no need for an inter-zone junction there.

One more point is that there were many junctions between the NR and NER in UP. At that time NER was almost entirely metre gauge. In most cases there were separate stations and station codes for the NR (BG) and NER (MG) stations. For example, Bareilly Jn was BE for NR and BRY for NER.

The Jodhpur Railway from the Bradshaw of June 1944

The Jodhpur Railway of those days was one of the small but well-run railway systems in the first half of the 20th century. The network (as shown in the June 1944 Indian Bradshaw) is:

Jodhpur1-1944Jodhpur2-1944

These are also in the IRFCA gallery’s Heritage section, though wrongly labelled as being from the 1943 Bradshaw.

It can be seen that after 1947 a part of this system (west of Munabao) became part of Pakistan’s railway system. Initially it was merged with the North Western Railway, then Pakistan Western Railway and finally Pakistan Railway.

The part remaining in India essentially became the Jodhpur Division of the Northern Railway and later the North Western Railway (which has nothing to do with the previous NWR).

The trains of Madras in 1958

Recently a Madras suburban timetable of the 1950s (probably 1958) surfaced on the IRFCA forum. This had a page showing the arrivals and departures of long-distance trains at Madras Central and Madras Egmore:

Madras 1958

No Rajdhanis, Shatabdis or Durontos, although there are Janata Expresses. See how many of these trains have survived, often with new names.

Madras itself has become Chennai. Stations such as Waltair, Bezwada, Arkonam, Bangalore, Jalarpet, Bombay, Mangalore, Conjeevaram, Madura, Trivandrum and Tinnevelly have long been renamed, while no train has run to Dhanushkodi since December 1964. Vizagapatnam Town station also closed around the same time.

Let us not talk about the present name of Madras Central.

Note the Tuticorin Express which came to grief near Ariyalur in 1956.

(Thanks to S. Aravind for providing this piece of history).

Vanished routes of the Indian Railways since 1975-Part 2-Former ER

Continuing our study of routes which were listed in the All India Timetable of 1975 but not now, or now  in substantially different form.

The route maps of the Indian Railways have undergone major changes since 1975.Construction of new lines, large-scale gauge conversion and the upgrading of many hitherto minor routes have all taken place.

Here we start with the All-India Time Table of November 1975 and see which lines have vanished from the passenger timetable.

The timetable was arranged in alphabetical order, so we started with the Central Railway as it then was. Next is the Eastern Railway.

Note that we are here using scans of scans, so some of the old timetables may not be as legible as we would wish.

At that time, the main ER timetables included the suburban lines. (The Metro was far in the future). One development was the two NG lines of McLeod & Co (Ahmadpur-Katwa and Burdwan-Katwa) being acquired by the government and transferred to the ER.

And parts of ER have become part of the new East Central Railway.

Now we look at what has vanished:

ER-1

The trans-Ganga steamers were still plying. Here are the services between Manihari Ghat (linked to Katihar) and Sakrigali Ghat (linked to Sahibganj). This had only one pair of services daily.

While rail and road bridges have been opened at several places in this part of Bihar, there does not seem to be anything planned here.

ER2

Pandabeswar to Palasthali has been closed after Bhimgara for some years, due to subsidence caused by illegal mining. It is not likely to reopen.

Then there is the Andal-Gaurandi section. The Ikra-Gaurandi section is no longer part of IR. There may have been a non-IR siding earlier, but no track can be seen on Google Maps.

ER3

You can still travel from Dhanbad to Pathardih, but NOT via Jharia. As most of us know, underground coal fires have been burning since 1930 and show no sign of abating. This line was closed in 2005 and its future is uncertain. Rather, the future of Jharia is uncertain.

For background information see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jharia

Meanwhile, trains between Dhanbad take this route:

ER3 today

The section from Pradhan Khunta to Pathardih was not in the 1975 timetable, though it was used for goods.

Trains currently running on this route are:

https://erail.in/trains-between-stations/dhanbad-jn-DHN/pathardih-jn-PEH

and https://erail.in/trains-between-stations/pathardih-jn-PEH/dhanbad-jn-DHN

ER4

Finally, the steamer services between Monghyr (now Munger) and Monghyr Ghat (linked to Sahebpur Kamal). Today there is  a bridge on a different alignment. A new station for Munger has come up.

And finally, evidence that this is indeed from 1975.

A map of this area: https://www.google.co.in/maps/place/Munger,+Bihar+811201/@25.3936147,86.460869,14z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x39f1eee66aa3ebc7:0x1bcf4fdc391adc06!8m2!3d25.3747561!4d86.4735251

Trains now running across the Ganga via Munger:

https://erail.in/trains-between-stations/jamalpur-jn-JMP/monghyr-MGR

https://erail.in/trains-between-stations/monghyr-MGR/jamalpur-jn-JMP

The routes include a new junction at Sabdalpur, where lines separate towards Sahibpur Kamal on the west and Khagaria on the east.

ER-4AER-4B

 

 

Vanished routes of the Indian Railways since 1975-Part 1-Former CR

The route maps of the Indian Railways have undergone major changes since 1975.Construction of new lines, large-scale gauge conversion and the upgrading of many hitherto minor routes have all taken place.

Here we start with the All-India Time Table of November 1975 and see which lines have vanished from the passenger timetable.

The timetable was arranged in alphabetical order, so we start with the Central Railway as it then was. Many changes occurred since then, with part of the South Central Railway going back to CR in the late 70s, and CR itself losing substantial parts to the new North Central and West Central zones in the early 2000s.

Note that we are here using scans of scans, so some of the old timetables may not be as legible as we would wish.

CR1975-1 001

T 17: Majri-Rajur: The section between Majri and Wani is now part of the longer route from Majri to Pimpalkuti, Adilabad and beyond. Rajur still has goods services but not passenger services.

T19: Tadali-Ghugus: No passenger services, still has goods services.

CR1975-2 001

T22, 22A: Note the local trains between Pune and Dehu Road Depot, which is on a branch from Dehu Road. Passenger trains on this branch stopped long ago.

Note the footnote (for Contractor’s Labour, Military Department’s Workmen and Staff).

The future of some narrow gauge lines such as Murtazapur-Achalpur are uncertain at the moment.

I also added a major realignment where a number of stations went off the railway map. The Harsud realignment was caused by the reservoir of the large Indira Sagar dam. The Khandwa-Itarsi section, while not exactly being on the Golden Quadrilateral, does have heavy long-distance traffic from the Mumbai area to northern and eastern India.

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harsud

Note the section after Khandwa here:

Harsud old

And compare it with this map (from the Great Indian Railway Atlas, 2015):

Harsud new

Note that the existing alignment up to Bir is still used for local passenger trains. This realignment has increased the route by 6 km.

 

Next comes ER (including suburban services).

The Darjeeling Mail of 1944

This is from a much-copied Bradshaw from June 1944. 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.

The Assam Bengal Railway in 1929

I happened to run into a British expert in railway history who had material from all over the world. One of the things he had was an Assam Bengal Railway timetable of 1929. He was kind enough to send me scans of a few pages from it. These are mainly from Sylhet and Cachar districts of the past.

ABR-1929 coverABR-1929 mapAssam Bengal TT p 014Assam Bengal TT p 015Assam Bengal TT p 016Assam Bengal TT p 023Assam Bengal TT p 026

Those familiar with the NFR would recognize the cover picture of a point on the Lumding-Badarpur section.

The Assam Bengal Railway ceased to exist in 1942 when it was combined with the Eastern Bengal Railway to form the Bengal & Assam Railway, which effectively covered all railways to the east of the Hooghly. This was primarily to facilitate efficient running of the war against Japan, and the US armed forces took control of the main routes into and in Assam.

This new creation lasted only a few years. Partition caused the B & A R to be broken into three parts. The BG lines left in West Bengal essentially became the Sealdah division of the EIR, which was then broken up into the ER and NR. What was left (both BG and MG besides a bit of NG) in East Pakistan was initially called the Eastern Bengal Railway until 1961, then the Pakistan Eastern Railway and finally Bangladesh Railways.

The MG lines in northern West Bengal, a bit of Bihar and everything to the east were combined with a few smaller systems (such as the NG Darjeeling Himalayan Railway and the company-owned lines around Tinsukia) became first the Assam Railway, then part of the North Eastern Railway and finally the Northeast Frontier Railway in 1958.

Some points of interest:

No express or mail trains served Chittagong and Sylhet. They were not directly connected to Dacca and other parts of present-day Bangladesh as there was no bridge over the Meghna at Ashuganj/Bhairab Bazar (though there was a ferry). The bridge was opened only in 1937. It was named the King George VI bridge. Had it opened a year earlier, it may have been one of the few things to be named after King Edward VIII.

There was, however, the Surma Mail which you can see running from Chandpur to Silchar via Laksam, Akhaura and Karimganj. Possibly it had slip coaches for Chittagong and Sylhet, though these would be mentioned elsewhere in the timetable. It would have started from Sealdah and passengers would have to travel in the ferry from Goalundo Ghat to Chandpur. Other ferries linked Goalundo Ghat to Narayanganj (for Dacca).

Note that extracts from various old timetables can be seen here:

http://www.irfca.org/gallery/Heritage/timetables/ 

Most of these are small fragments, as it is a painful process to scan large numbers of pages from the fragile originals. Even so, there are complete timetables of the North Western Railway and Jodhpur Railway from the 1944 Bradshaw, which cover the entire area of Pakistan and parts of Rajasthan and UP, besides most of Haryana and Punjab.

There is a copy of the June 1944 Bradshaw which someone got hold of, which has been repeatedly copied and circulated to dozens of railfans connected with the IRFCA group. Someone seems to have got hold of the Bradshaws of the 1930s and has put up a few pages pertaining to present Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

There is also a full timetable of the BB & CIR from 1937 (roughly corresponding to the pre-2002 WR).

In case you are wondering, foreign websites (mainly abebooks.com, also ebay.com, Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk) occasionally stock old Indian zonal timetables and Bradshaws from small independent booksellers (mainly in the UK). But any Bradshaw or all-India TT before the 1980s may cost a few hundred US dollars. Old zonal timetables are rarer but not so expensive-for instance, a few years ago one NWR timetable of 1930 was available for about 35 USD including shipping to India.