Unusual languages on signboards in India

Dogri in Jammu:

Jammu Tawi (Dogri script)

Maithili in Darbhanga:

Darbhanga station Maithili

Also at Madhubani, although it does not seem to be on the platform signs:

Madhubani (Maithili)

These are in Manipur. While the residents of that state are called Manipuris, there is no language of that name. Experts from there will tell you that the signs are Meitei in Mayek script.

Jiribam-manipuriVangaichungpao-Dholakhal

Here is one language many of us would not have heard of:

Ghaghra (JH)

This is in Jharkhand, midway between Rourkela and Chakradharpur. This is the local language Ol’Chiki. Thanks to Pavel Ghosh.

In the neighborhood, here is a left-over Urdu sign in Bangladesh:

Boira (still trilingual)

And left-over signs in Gurumukhi script up in Khyber-Pakhtunwa province of Pakistan:

Landi Khana station todayShahgai (Khyber)

Remember that no train has been to Landi Khana since 1932, and not to Shahgai since around 2000.

 

The Non-Government Railways of the 1940s

I had earlier summarized information about the 9 non-government railways which were separately listed in the All-India Timetable of 1964. None of them exist in NG now, they have either been converted to BG or closed for many years.

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

As there is interest in timetables of these and other vanished lines, I am giving some extracts of a 1943 Bradshaw which covers all the lines which were apparently not part of the larger railway systems of that time. Some survived into the 1960s and beyond and others closed much earlier.

Here we see the lines of the Bengal Provincial Railway, which closed in 1956:

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

1943-NG-1

Here we have the two McLeod and Co lines known as the Burdwan Katwa Light Railway and the Ahmadpur Katwa Light Railway.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bardhaman%E2%80%93Katwa_line

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahmadpur%E2%80%93Katwa_line

Both these lines were purchased by the Government transferred to the Eastern Railway in 1966, where they continue till now after being fully converted to BG and electrified.

Also the Dehri Rohtas Light Railway, initially owned by the Octavius Steel group and then the Sahu Jain group. It closed in 1984 and is not likely to be revived.

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

1943-NG-2

The 4 lines here were all part of the Martin Burn group:

https://wiki.fibis.org/w/Bukhtiarpur-Bihar_Light_Railway

Closed in 1961.Became part of ER and converted to BG by 1962.

https://wiki.fibis.org/w/Futwah-Islampur_Light_Railway

Was closed in 1986, converted to BG and became part of ER (and then East Central Railway).

https://wiki.fibis.org/w/Arrah-Sasaram_Light_Railway

Closed in 1978, converted to BG and became part of ER (and then East Central Railway).

https://wiki.fibis.org/w/Shahdara-Saharanpur_Light_Railway

Closed in 1970, converted to BG and became part of Northern Railway.

1943-NG-3

The Barasat Basirhat Light Railway (which had other owners, NL Roy and Sons Ltd)

1943-NG-4A

This was closed in 1955. In 1962 the Barasat-Hasnabad BG line was opened with a similar alignment.

Also from the Martin Burn group:

https://wiki.fibis.org/w/Howrah-Sheakhalla_Light_Railway

This was of 2’0″ gauge. This closed in 1971 and no steps have been taken to reopen it.

1943-NG-4

Next is the Howrah-Amta Light Railway. This was also of 2’0″ gauge.

https://wiki.fibis.org/w/Howrah-Amta_Light_Railway

Like its sister line above, it closed in 1971. The Howrah-Amta section was converted to BG and electrified, and is now part of the South Eastern Railway. It is unlikely that the Champadanga branch will be revived.

1943-NG-5A1943-NG-5B

 

The Rupsa-Bagerhat Light Railway, now in Bangladesh. This was converted to BG in around 1970 but was closed soon afterwards.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khulna%E2%80%93Bagerhat_Railway

1943-NG-6

The Bankura Damodar River Railway (from the McLeod & Co group):

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McLeod%27s_Light_Railways#Bankura%E2%80%93Damodar_Railway

This was transferred to the South Eastern Railway and converted to broad gauge in the 2000s. It was extended from Rainagar to Gram Masagram (near Masagram on the Howrah-Barddhaman chord).

The Kaligat Falta Railway (McLeod & Co)

https://wiki.fibis.org/w/Kalighat-Falta_Railway

This was closed by 1957. A road now runs over the alignment.

1943-NG-7A

The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, which needs no introduction. The 2’0″ line from NJP and Siliguri continues to run much as it has since the 1880s, except that diesels now haul the regular trains.

It was initially part of the Gillanders Arbuthnot group. By this time it was considered to be a part of IR and not a  non-government line.

1943-NG-7B

The line from Siliguri to Kishanganj was converted to MG as part of the Assam Rail Link in 1948-50, and to BG more recently.

The Teesta Valley branch continued running until 1950. The section between Siliguri and Sevok was converted to mixed NG/MG gauge until the hill section up to Gielle Khola was damaged by floods in 1950. The hill section was closed and the NG line removed from Siliguri to Sevok which continued to be part of the Assam Rail Link. Today it is broad gauge.

The Tezpur Balipara NG line was initially run by the local agents Kilburn & Co. In 1952 it became part of the Northeast Frontier Railway and converted to MG. Still later it was converted to BG although the terminus is now Dekargaon, north of Tezpur.

1943-NG-8A1943-NG-8B

 

And finally the Jagadhri Light Railway, which closed in 1950:

https://wiki.fibis.org/w/Jagadhri_Light_Railway

1943-NG-9

This, then, is the summary of all NG lines which were not part of the major railway companies in 1943. A brief history of the later developments has been given.

The links provide sources of more information from Wikipedia and Fibis.

There were still other NG lines which had closed by 1940, mainly in South India. Most of them never reopened.

 

 

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).

Return from the dead: the Alnavar-Dandeli line

There are many small branch lines which have closed over the years. A few have been reopened, often after conversion. One such line was the former MG branch from Alanavar to Dandeli, both in north-western Karnataka on the SWR.

It was opened in 1919 by the M&SMR. Passenger traffic was low and it also handled freight from the West Coast Paper mills, served by a siding which took off a little before Dandeli.

The line does not appear in the Bradshaws of 1935 and 1943. Perhaps services were temporarily closed.

This is what we see from the US Army map of 1955:

Alnavar Dandeli map 1955

Here we can see the branch heading to the SW from Alnavar, which is east of Londa.  The stations of Shirgur and Dandeli are seen.

And this is the same area through today’s Google Maps:

https://www.google.co.in/maps/place/Alnavar+Junction/@15.356553,74.6864282,13z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x3bbf2528c10858ed:0x3ac02d80bdee31fd!8m2!3d15.42441!4d74.73827

Here you can see Shingatgeri and Ambewadi stations, and the line heading to the West Coast Paper mills from the latter. Expand the map if needed.

In timetables of the 1960s, we see

Alnavar; 14 km to Shingatgeri, 22 km to Shirgur Siding Halt and finally Dandeli (32 km). No Ambewadi station.

At this time there are two pairs of passenger trains between Alnavar and Dandeli.

By February 1994, this is what Bradshaw said:

Alnavar Dandeli 1994 001

Services had shrunk to a bare minimum. By then, BG conversion of Miraj to Bangalore had started in earnest and it was not thought worthwhile to convert this MG branch. Freight traffic must have dried up by then. Services were suspended some time in 1994 and nothing was heard from there until recently.

The line was converted to BG up to Ambewadi as well as the paper mills siding. According to a friend who was posted in that area in the mid-2000s, goods trains were running but there were no passenger services on the BG.

Public demand had grown in recent years, with the growth of tourism around Dandeli.

Dandeli toursm

Finally it was decided to convert the line to BG, but only up to a new station called Ambewadi 26 km from Alnavar:

AlnavarAmbewadiambewadi-2

A few days ago, a new passenger train was started between nearby Dharwad and Ambewadi. Here is its timetable:

https://indiarailinfo.com/train/timetable/all/107350/1424/7683

https://indiarailinfo.com/train/timetable/all/107351/7683/1424

The RBS table for this branch:

Alnavar Dandeli distance map

There are not many short branches which have been revived after being in a coma for 25 years.

 

The last gasp of the Satpura narrow gauge lines

A news item about the impending conversion of the (Nagpur) Itwari-Nagbhir narrow gauge section from November 2019:

https://www.railpost.in/the-last-ng-section-in-secrs-nagpur-division-to-close-down-for-gauge-conversion/

This is the last of the vast network of narrow gauge lines which used to cover a large part of the less-developed areas of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.

Here is an earlier post describing its operations in late 2015:

https://abn397.wordpress.com/2015/12/14/the-satpura-railway-still-exists/

New line between Chhota Udepur and Alirajpur

Scheduled passenger services have commenced between Chhota Udepur (Gujarat) and Alirajpur (MP). Timings of the single passenger train can be seen in the links below. It originates at Pratapnagar in Vadodara:

https://erail.in/trains-between-stations/chhota-udepur-CTD/alirajpur-ARPR?train=59121

https://erail.in/trains-between-stations/alirajpur-ARPR/pratap-nagar-PRTN?train=59120

Alirajpur

The narrow gauge branch between Pratapnagar at Chhota Udepur via Dabhoi was converted to broad gauge some years ago.

A map of existing and proposed lines in this area:

https://indiarailinfo.com/station/map/alirajpur-arpr/10950

This line will be extended to Dhar, which is on the line from Dahod to Mhow. These lines may take a few years to complete.

Rail Quiz-Oct 2019 with answers

  1. What is the significance of this pair of stations in the history of IR? The line between these stations was opened in 1926, completing the Delhi-Madras line (as well as the Golden Quadrilateral with diagonals).
  2. Nowadays all passenger trains have at least a technical halt at Balharshah. But in 1963-64 the Southern Express (then the best train between New Delhi and Madras) ran through Balharshah without stopping. How was this possible?  They stop at Balharshah as it is the “junction” between CR and SCR where train crews change. Up to 1966, the Central Railway ran straight to Vijayawada and to Hyderabad and beyond. As Balharshah was not so important then, the Southern Express ran through without stopping. In 1963-64 it ran on some days as the AC Express and some days as the Southern Express (like the Paschim and Poorva which survived longer).
  3. What is the historical significance of this station in Bangladesh? Dohazari                                                                                    The end of a branch line from Chittagong. It was completed in the mid-1920s as the first part of a proposed line to Burma (which was still governed from India). The Great Depression, the delinking of Burma from India in 1937 and then World War 2 put an end to that.
  4. And of this station in Pakistan? The western-most station of Pakistan Railways. The line continues across the border to Zahidan in Iran, though that portion of the track was transferred to the Iranian railways in the 1960s. The trains are still operated by PR.Koh i Taftan (2)
  5. Why was this small station’s name well known to Allied military personnel?  Drigh RoadA major RAF base existed there since the 1920s, which was very active during World War 2. For some reason it was known as Drigh Road airfield and was not named after Karachi. Later, an offshoot of this became the main airport of Karachi.
  6. And what was the significance of this station’s name to British soldiers? Deolali was a British Army camp 100 miles north-east of Mumbai . It is also the source of the British slang noun doolally tap, loosely meaning “camp fever”, and referring to the apparent madness of men waiting for ships back to Britain after finishing their tour of duty. By the 1940s this had been widely shortened to just “doolally“, an adjective meaning “mad (insane).Devlali
  7. What is unusual about this station in Bangladesh? And what was it called before partition? Like Hili, it lies right on the border and from India one can easily see trains running here on the Chittagong-Akhaura section. It was called Kamalasagar as it used to serve this place which is now across the border.        Quasba
  8. Until recently, what was (wrongly) claimed to be the first station in Arunachal Pradesh? Bhalukpong, reached from Balipara around 1980. The town spreads over Assam and Arunachal, and the station is just within Assam’s border. The picture below shows it during MG days.Bhalukpong old
  9. Identify the time span when this picture was taken.   This place is in Bangladesh, formerly East Pakistan. From 1954 to 1971 Urdu and Bengali were the official languages of Pakistan, and thus signboards in East Pakistan had English and these two languages. Once Bangladesh came into being, there was no need for Urdu signs and they are a rarity now. This picture dates from the 1971 war.Rajshahi station-old
  10. Where in India would you have seen steam locos in green livery marked “PAK”? The locos of SCR had tenders in red and green. There used to be a MG loco shed at Pakala (code PAK) and this was marked on the tender. (This was not an usual practice, but has been mentioned by Bill Aitken in one of his books).
  11. Name one station in Kerala which had steam sheds for BG and MG. Quilon, now Kollam. The MG shed was first, and the BG facilities started once BG came in 1975.
  12. Name one major rail-connected howler in the film “Julie”. This is set in Shoranur, an important junction but not even a divisional HQ. Utpal Dutt’s character is mentioned as the Chief Engineer, whereas the station would have had an Assistant Engineer (and AME) as the local heads.
  13. Which was the only section of IR which had 4-foot gauge? Azimganj-Nalhati, soon converted to BG and now on the ER. See details here: https://wiki.fibis.org/w/Nalhati-Azimganj_Railway You can also see this loco at the NRM: 
  14. And 3’6″ gauge? The Arconum-Conjeevarum Tramway, as it was then called. It soon became BG, soon after MG and finally BG in recent years. More details: https://wiki.fibis.org/w/Arakkonam-Conjeevaram_Tramway . No information about the 3’6″ locos could be found.
  15. What was the northern-most MG station on IR? Ignore the short-lived MG lines north of Lahore. Kot Kapura. The MG line from Bhatinda then turned south-west towards Fazilka, so Kot Kapura was the northern-most MG station.
  16. Bonus: Which important station most closely matches the description of the title of the novel “Bhowani Junction”? Note these points-it is on the Delhi-Bombay line, with a branch going towards Allahabad (though not directly). It is a district HQ and an important cantonment. This fits Jhansi perfectly (but not Itarsi and Bhusaval).

 

(The best effort was by my old friend Harsh Vardhan.)