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.

The mystery of T-Sakibanda

The station of T-Sakibanda lies between Guntakal and Ballari. It is in Anantapur district of Rayalseema region of Andhra Pradesh and close to the Karnataka border.

https://indiarailinfo.com/station/map/t-sakibanda-tkbn/5177

Note the peculiar spelling of T-Sakibanda. Not like the better known Tsunduru elsewhere in Andhra Pradesh. The hyphen after the T is clearly shown in this sign for all three languages.

Even the local map does not throw light on this:

https://www.google.co.in/maps/place/T+Sakibanda/@15.162225,77.1762175,17z/data=!4m12!1m6!3m5!1s0x3bb6e59021aaaaab:0xfbacafc56bc15ed7!2sGuntakal+Railway+Junction!8m2!3d15.1755264!4d77.3667171!3m4!1s0x3bb71d91288ded59:0xd9664510b32d1c8f!8m2!3d15.1632802!4d77.1779197

Could it be a word like Tehsil or Taluk? Such words would normally be spelt out in a place name (e.g. Tahsil Bhadran, Kasur Tahsil). Anyway, in AP we have divisions and mandals.

From Google we get another T Sakibanda in faraway YSR (Kadapa) district. This has an alternative spelling of Chaki Banda (just like Chunduru for Tsunduru). Perhaps that is the explanation. But why the hyphen? Was someone fond of T-series cassettes or perhaps T-bone steaks?

Partly inspired by this book: https://www.amazon.in/Bermuda-Triangle-Mystery-Solved/dp/0879759712

Smaller cities with multiple stations

We know there are many station names which include the names of cities such as Chennai, Delhi, Bengaluru etc. Also the next level of cities like Agra, Kanpur and Prayagraj. Moving down the scale:

Hathras, UP:

Chennai’s suburb of Perambur:

Still in Chennai-the lesser known suburb of Pattabiram:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Ernakulam, part of Kochi:

And this semi-ghost station which you can still visit:

Kalyani near Kolkata:

Katni in MP:

This is supposed to be illustrative and not comprehensive. Other not-so-large cities with 3 or more stations can be thought of, such as Salem, Bareilly etc

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.

Pranabda and the Railways

Pranab Mukherjee (1935-2020) held many posts in various governments but never had any direct connection with the railways. This looks at how things have improved (?) in his hometown.

He was born and brought up at Mirati village in Birbhum district. This is a few km from Kirnahar station.

This was on the Ahmadpur-Katwa Light Railway, then run by McLeod and Co. They also ran the Burdwan-Katwa Light Railway besides a few other narrow gauge lines.

Basic details here and here

Ahmadpur’s broad gauge station has its place in history because of Okhil Chandra Sen and the jackfruit letter, although it is doubtful that it was a genuine letter.

In 1935, Kirnahar was served by 3 pairs of trains per day. By 1966 it was taken over by the Eastern Railway along with its “twin”, the Burdwan-Katwa Light Railway.

Before its closure for conversion in 2013, Kirnahar was served by 3 pairs of trains per day. Unlike the steam-hauled trains of the past, they were lightweight 3-coach rail buses:

When the line was reopened in 2018, it was not electrified like the Burdwan-Katwa line. There is now only one pair of diesel-hauled trains in a day:

Not sure if this is progress for the passengers here.

Pranabda was never elected as a legislator from this area. He was mainly in the Rajya Sabha (upper house), but did serve two terms in the Lok Sabha from Jangipur, some distance away.

Meanwhile, Birbhum is represented by a lady named Satabdi Ray, though she does not have any connection to the railways either (except her name).

Unique instances on the Indian Railways

There are many oddities on the Indian Railways. Here are some which occur only once in the entire system.

A station where at least one regular passenger train stops but EMUs do not stop: Sanatnagar, west of Secunderabad. EMUs run through this station which has a large goods yard. They stop at Bharatnagar which is about 1 km away. This was probably because proper road access was not possible at Sanatnagar.

Division which continues with the old name of the HQ station. Numerous cities have had their names changed over the last two decades. Examples include Mumbai, Chennai, Vadodara, Palakkkad, Tiruvananthapuram and Prayagraj. When the station name was changed, the division name was changed EXCEPT for Waltair/Visakhapatnam where the old name of Waltair (on the East Coast Railway) continues. I am not sure why this is so.

Yes, there is a Pt Deen Dayal Upadhyaya division on ECR.

Station names-the only one with the suffix of “new” is Bhubaneswar New.

The only well-known station starting with “old” is Old Malda. There is also Old Sachivalaya Halt on the Digha branch from Patna, which is probably closed. Some obscure sidings and yards with names starting with “old”  and the various directions can be found through the station index on RBS.

With the prefix West, there is West Hill on SR and West Point Halt near Darjeeling. For the latter,  no platform seems to exist now. There is a tiny sign.

With the suffix West: Ratangarh West, earlier Hudera. Presently there is Tirupati West and Kulitturai West (also open) and Guntakal West (no passenger service now, but may have stoppages in future).

The only case of prefix North is at North Lakhimpur on NFR. (and the lesser known North Panakudi on SR).

While Ernakulam Town was called Ernakulam North in the past, local people refer to it as North station. Similarly for Ernakulam Town, formerly Ernakulam South. These old names only existed in the period from the early 1940s to late 1950s, but still persist in local usage.

No cases of prefixes of Central, South, East. (Even though there are countries like the Central African Republic, South Korea and the former East Germany and East Timor).

Some large yards have cabins with names like   ***** West Outer Cabin or ****West Central Cabin.

The other junctions on Indian Railways

The definitions of a railway junction are many. In general, we say that a junction is where three or more lines meet.

A more detailed definition is given by my friend DSP Anirudh:

 

“In the company-era railways, the stations at the boundary between the railway networks of 2 different companies, were also called Junctions.

This reflects the more generic meaning of Junction, which refers to a point where two or more things are joined. In railway parlance, this meant that even passing stations (with no branch lines and no break of gauge) could also be termed as Junctions as long as there was something different about the railway lines on either side of the station.”

 

However, there are also “pseudo-junctions” where one line ends and another one starts, where they are of different gauges. So passengers and freight would have to be transferred at this point.

We look at the pseudo-junctions which existed since 1950. If we go further back many instances can be found in the years while the IR system was expanding.

Kalka and Mettupalaiyam are the most obvious ones, with BG/MG and BG/NG. These will continue indefinitely as long as the mountain railways are running.

Not Neral, NJP, Siliguri and Pathankot as they are junctions in the normal sense as three or more lines are meeting.

One which existed until the 1990s was Parli Vaijnath, where a BG line from Vikarabad met a MG line from Parbhani. Now the MG line is converted.

One which still exists (from 2005) is Udaipur City, where the MG line from Ajmer side was converted to BG and the MG line to Ahmedabad side remained. This was a relatively new line which was opened in the mid-60s. However, the line from Ahmedabad via Himatnagar is partly converted and may be fully BG by 2021. So this, like Parli Vaijnath, will become a wayside station on BG.

Others which will exist for a year or so are Bahraich and Mhow (Dr Ambedkar Nagar).

You may be thinking of Miraj, but that was a junction in the normal sense with branches to Kolhapur and Kurduwadi.

Shantipur on ER had this status until a few years ago, when the BG line from Ranaghat met the NG line to Krishnanagar and Nabadwip. Now the NG line is being converted and there is no longer a BG-NG connection at Shantipur.

A short-term BG-NG junction existed at Balgona for a year or so in the course of the NG to BG conversion of the Barddhaman-Katwa section. Now the conversion is completed.

You may think that New Bongaigaon was where BG ended and MG started between the mid-60s and early 80s. This is incorrect as the BG branch from NBQ to Jogighopa was also opened in the mid-60s, but did not have passenger service for a long time. Local trains were there in the early 70s.

Viramgam was where BG ended until the 1970s, but more than one MG line ended there.

Jaynagar on the Bihar-Nepal border would not qualify since the IR station (MG, then BG) was at a different location from the NG line of the Nepal Railways. I don’t know if there is any change now. The new BG line from Jaynagar to Janakpur and beyond does not seem to have opened yet.

If you go back to the time of independence, there was a BG-NG connection at the OLD Siliguri, where the BG line from Sealdah via Haldibari ended and the NG line started. The NEW Siliguri Jn was built to the north of this, near the old station of Siliguri Road.

At this time, Kishanganj was the end of a MG branch from Katihar and Barsoi and the NG line to old Siliguri started from there.

If you count cases where only passengers had to move from one gauge to another, we can include Madras Beach in the past. For a while, the BG Ganga Kaveri Express used to end there and the corresponding MG train to Rameswaram would start from there.

Also Coimbatore, as it was the end of MG lines from the Pollachi side. The MG lines continued to a point near Coimbatore North.

Many other cases can be found from the earlier days. The weirdest case in undivided India was probably in the Bolan Pass connecting Quetta to the Indus Valley, where there was a small MG section in the middle of the pass between two BG lines. This MG section between Hirok and Kolpur did not last long. During that time (in the late 19th century) passengers and goods were transhipped at both these stations.

This is incomplete, but it is probably not feasible to include all such cases which occurred in the course of lengthy gauge conversion projects.

Multiple changes in station signs

There are some stations whose names have changed twice in the last few years.

We start with Karnataka, where we have:

And the better known:

Over to Uttar Pradesh:

Given a chance, there will be many more in the future.

Going a little further back:

Olavakkot Jn -> Palghat Jn -> Palakkad Jn

Palghat Town -> Palakkad Town

Or this trio from Vidarbha:

Wardha East Jn -> Sewagram Jn

Sewagram -> Varud

Paunar -> Seloo Road

From Jaipur:

Sanganer -> Sanganer Jn -> Getor Jagatpura

Sanganer Town -> Sanganer Town Jn -> Sanganer

(And these two locations are more than 10 km apart)

And now Sanskrit on station signs

There are a number of unusual languages which you could see on station signs in India, ranging from Dogri to Maithili to “Manipuri” to Ol-Chiki, which you can read about here:

https://abn397.wordpress.com/2019/11/26/unusual-languages-on-signboards-in-india/

But there were no signs in Sanskrit until now.

A little background first. Uttar Pradesh has had Hindi as well as Urdu as official languages for a long time. They had the status of co-official languages since 1989.

Sanskrit has been declared an official language in Uttarakhand as well as Himachal Pradesh. The latter state does not seem to have done much about introducing Sanskrit in signs, but Uttarakhand has.

Official languages in different states can be seen here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Languages_with_official_status_in_India#List_of_scheduled_languages_of_India

And this news item from Uttarakhand:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/sanskrit-to-replace-urdu-at-uttarakhand-stations/articleshow/73365137.cms

The replacement of Urdu by Sanskrit in station signs has started. We first look at the state capital:

And another important town:

Rishikesh goes a step further. First the original sign:

Rishikesh-old

A new station will be opened shortly as part of the proposed new line to Karnaprayag. The original name was planned to be New Rishikesh:

New Rishikesh_crop

But it is now going to be:

Rishikesh (YN)_crop0

Not sure if Yogi Adityanath has anything to do with it, although he was originally from Pauri Garhwal district in Uttaranchal. Anyway, this is what the new station looks like.

And this new design of a station sign seems to use more material and space.

Another interesting point is that the Sanskrit inscription is on top unlike in the signs of Dehradun and Haridwar.

It is the normal practice to have the main local language on top followed by English and Hindi, as you can see here:

Does it mean that Sanskrit has more importance than Hindi in Uttarakhand? However, one can see that there is a lot of inconsistency in such matters.

There are numerous examples of places in India which carry languages of other states:

5 languages in this one in Karnataka:

Raichur station-5 languages

Also in Telangana:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Numerous examples of signs with 4 languages, which include those of neighbouring states:

kollengode-4

In Kerala-Tamil in the second row.

Pollachi

In Tamil Nadu-Malayalam on the right side.

Jamalpur station

In Bihar -Urdu still has official status, with Bengali also there:

Sini

Jharkhand -includes Odiya and Bengali

dav

Also in Jharkhand, with Urdu and Bengali

Also in Jharkhand: Bengali was in the old sign but not in the new sign.

Do you see any consistency 🙂

Finally, Himachal Pradesh also has Sanskrit as its official language. But they are not interested in changing the signs. And they have not deleted any language which was already there:

The “official” version can be seen in this news report. But the Sanskrit signs have appeared anyway before the writer noticed them:

https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/explained-how-indian-railways-names-stations-and-decides-on-languages-to-use-6505315/

For railfans-the Fergusson papers revisited

This is primarily for railfans interested in lists of stations on railway systems across the world. Some explanation is necessary.

The Fergusson papers on the link given below are compiled by an Englishman named Jim Fergusson, who has been collecting timetables from all over the world since around 1950. He has got hold of timetables from different time periods ranging from the 19th to the 21st century.

Most of those reading this will be interested in the Indian railway system.  The systems of all our neighbours (Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and even Myanmar) are covered. He seems to have drawn largely from the Indian Bradshaw which has been published since the 19th century but seems to have vanished a few years ago.

Update: By Oct 2020 he has added sections from all zones of India

Have a look at it here:

http://www.railwaystationlists.co.uk/

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).