The new line to Krishnapatnam port

This new line in Andhra Pradesh has been in the news lately. It is similar to the Dedicated Freight Corridors in that it is primarily meant for freight traffic (iron ore export) and there is no present plan to use it for passenger services.

There are, of course, a number of short freight-only lines on IR. This line is unusual in that it is over 100 km long and because it may well serve as a short cut between widely separated parts of a state. And it is electrified from the start.

A very brief summary is here:

See p 35 of the pdf which corresponds to p 33 of the booklet.

A map of the route:

Obula line map

While this is a screenshot from a TV report, it must have been an official map to start with.

Other articles:


The list of stations can be got from the RBS tables (where you have to ask for the “goods” option rather than “coach”).

Obu-Kri line cropped

There are some discrepancies between this table and the map shown above. Perhaps all the stations have not been completed yet.

It would be useful for passenger services between Kadapa and the east coast from Nellore and beyond, as Renigunta and Gudur would be bypassed.

But presently there is a problem with this, which will be apparent from this map of the eastern end of this line:

Obu-Kri line crossing

The new line crosses a flyover (between Kommarpudi and Venkatachalam) over the Gudur-Vijayawada line with no simple connection to the latter. Thus a prospective Nandalur-Gudur passenger or Kadapa-Vijayawada Express would have to reverse at Venkatachalam Road.

The route includes a tunnel about 6.6 km long (between Cherlopalli and Rapuru) which is being described as the “longest electrified rail tunnel in India” which may be correct today. But there will be longer tunnels in J and K which will be electrified over the next few years.

Details here:


There are numerous video clips (in Telugu) on Youtube describing this route with an emphasis on the tunnel.

Also note:

ObulavaripalliVenkatachalam road

Also see these pictures of some of the intermediate stations:



Long station names in Kerala

Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka have a well-deserved reputation for long place names, which I have covered here earlier. Another interesting point noticed by one of my friends is the unconventional Devanagiri fonts used in station signs in parts of South India.

Here is a random sample of station signs in Kerala. They have varying Devanagari fonts. Transliteration into Hindi is not always correct.

The longest station names in Kerala would probably be these two:

The capital:

And this smaller place:

A few more at random:

Alappuzha was earlier called Alleppey, which is uncomfortably close to Aleppo in Syria.

In the above two cases, “South” has been transliterated into Hindi while “East” has been translated.

(This is close to Tamil Nadu, so Tamil also appears).

And finally a short one.

Veli is accompanied by Kochuveli or “Small Veli”. However, Kochuveli station is a terminus and much larger than Veli station.

Hindi purists would note that sometimes the script used is not “standard”.

Travels along the railways in Jammu

It is common to find odd things in the inscriptions on signboards at railway stations in India. The traditional rule is to have three languages-the state’s language at the top, Hindi second and English third. Examples from southern and eastern India:

Now, it becomes complicated when a state has more than one official language. UP and Bihar have Hindi and Urdu, Assam has Bengali in some districts, and so on. This is summarised here:

The Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir has official languages Kashmiri, Dogri, Hindi, Urdu and English. Kashmiri was added only in 2020. Up till then stations in this state/UT had inscriptions in Urdu, Hindi and English. Dogri has started appearing in the Jammu region now. Sometimes there is only Dogri in addition to English and Hindi, or only Urdu, or sometimes both.

Jammu Tawi:

Here we see signs with Urdu or Dogri but not both.

Kathua, close to the Punjab border has signs with only Urdu and with Dogri and Urdu.

Samba, associated with a spy scandal and Gabbar Singh has Dogri and Urdu

Similarly for Vijaypur Jammu:

So there does not seem to be any clear policy as to which languages are to be considered local languages in the Jammu region.

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.


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.


For military traffic.


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


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


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.


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.


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.


Was earlier in the timetable.

Panipat Refinery:

Bhauli has not had passenger service.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 trains of Mizoram

There have been some advertisements regarding various rail mega projects which will link the remotest borders by rail.

Here we look at one such project which may be completed relatively quickly.

The present railhead for Aizawl (and the whole of Mizoram) is Bhairabi, on a branch from Katakhai Jn which is between Badarpur junction and Silchar. This was opened over a decade ago. As was the general practice, the station of Bhairabi was built just over the border between Assam and Mizoram. The MG line was converted to BG in 2016 as part of the extension further into Mizoram.

Bhairabi in metre gauge days.

Bhairabi at the time of conversion to BG.

For an overview of this project, see this (in Hindi with some English subtitles):

The line is to extend 50.5 km to Sairang, which is about 21 km short of the centre of Aizawl. It is not expected to be extended to Aizawl, due to steep gradients as well as land acquisition problems.

Here is the list of stations according to the RBS tables:

The link to the “rest of India” is Badarpur, so we also give the stations between Badarpur and Bhairabi.:

In 1947, the terminus was at Lalaghat near the present station of Lalabazar.

Note the district HQ of Hailakandi. This was part of Sylhet district which, along with Karimganj sub-division, remained in India while the rest of the district went to East Pakistan.

Let us see if there will be an Aizawl Rajdhani.

You can trace the path of the new line from Bhairabi on this map:,+Mizoram/@24.1820813,92.5436294,14z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x374e03e98bcd8d27:0xaabba20e26eb562!8m2!3d24.1853491!4d92.5371264

Update: No passenger trains have started running at the time of writing (Sep 2022). Some months earlier there were clashes between the security forces of Assam and Mizoram. The present target date for completion is Nov 2023. This is strange, considering that the stations have already been entered into the RBS database.

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:,+Gujarat/@22.9416315,69.7547649,9z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x39511e0750db4489:0x2049bf8ec25dea88!8m2!3d23.7337326!4d

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.

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.

East is East

Here we explore the stations in India with the suffix “East”. There do not seem to be any with the prefix.

It is not supposed to be a comprehensive list.

The best known one is Bengaluru East:

Including its predecessor above.

Here, the Hindi word and Kannada word seem to be correct translations.

Now to smaller places like Kundara in Kerala:

While Hindi is correct, Malayalam is still East transliterated.

Next to Andhra Pradesh:

Hindi and Telugu appear to be correct.

Tamil Nadu is more complicated. We start with a smaller city:

This was the old station for ages, until a new Kanchipuram station came up to its west. The Tamil word “Kizhaku” seems to be correct.

But Madurai East is different:

Here, a short form similar to E Madurai has been used unlike in the case of Kanchipuram.

Salem East was a small station closed long ago. And Tirupati East became Tirupati even earlier, probably in the 1960s.

It is interesting to see that naming conventions vary even within the same state.

Tailpiece: East can be a middle word, as in Sone East Bank up to the 1940s. Now it is Son Nagar:

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 junction between the GIPR and Nizam’s State Railway, where most trains changed their locos.

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.

Dead Centre

A continuation of “Go West, young man”

There are 5 large stations in India with the suffix “Central”:

Strarting with the northernmost, we then move down to:

Where the word Central is transliterated to Hindi and Marathi.

It may not be commonly known that the local station existed before the terminus was opened in 1930. It was earlier called Bellasis Road.

Down the west coast to:

In Hindi and Kannada here.

Further along the coast to:

While the top inscription looks like a single word, it does include “central” transliterated into Malayalam.

And finally to

Which is now

Has the Tamil inscription for Central changed? In the old sign it follows the trend of transliteration from English. In the new sign the correct (?) term “Mattiya” is the first word of the 3rd line, while the Hindi sign is like all the others. (Though one character in the old sign looks quite odd).

There is also a Metro station in Kolkata called Central:

Where Central is transliterated into Bengali.

Onwards to East, South and North.