Extreme points of the Indian Railways (2017)

The northernmost station:

Sopore

This is the station before the terminus at Baramulla. If one looks at the map carefully, it can be seen that it is further north.

In case the proposed line from Baramulla to Kupwara is built in the future, the latter will become the northernmost station. There is also a proposed line to Leh from Himachal Pradesh, but Leh is around the same latitude as Srinagar.

Now, the Kashmir valley line from Banihal to Baramulla is not connected to the rest of the IR network (although this gap can be bridged in a 4-hour road journey from Udhampur to Banihal). The northernmost station on the IR network used to be Udhampur, which is now superseded by

Katra-new

These lines were always BG.

Now we move east. The easternmost station presently served by passenger trains is

Ledo

However, goods trains run further east for a few km to Tirap Siding where coal is loaded. Although I could not find a picture with this sign, there is this video of a road trip along this route with plenty of coal wagons:

Still further ahead is this now defunct station which was functioning from the late 1950s to the 1990s, when the MG line was converted only up to Tirap Siding as it was not considered worthwhile to extend the BG line here:

Lekhapani_station

Lekhapani was thus the easternmost point of the Indian Railways, but not now. However, it is now planned to reopen this station after the last stretch of a few km is converted to BG.

This plaque can be seen near Lekhapani station:

Lekhapani plaque

Still further east are the Tipong colliery railways (2’0″ NG) which are NOT and never were part of IR, though we will take a quick look at them here:

These colliery lines have some B class locos which were earlier on the Darjeeling line. There are several longer videos of these lines on Youtube.

The main line even features in the 1972 film “Ye Gulistan Hamara”. If you are really interested you can see the film on Youtube, though the trains appear only for a couple of minutes. If you like typical Bollywood films of the 1970s and are fans of Dev Anand and Sharmila Tagore, you might as well see it.

A small 2’0″ industrial line was earlier functioning at a plywood factory at Namsai in Arunachal Pradesh, though this was also nothing to do with IR.

A new line from a point near Makum to Parshuram Kund has been proposed. When completed, this will be the easternmost station much further east than the collieries at Ledo.

Now to the south. That is easy enough. This line was built with BG.

Kanniyakumari

And for the west, there is

Varvala

Like Sopore, it is not a terminus but is further west than the larger station of Dwarka and the terminus of Okha. Dwarka is the westernmost station of some importance.

This line was MG and was converted to BG around 1980.

Varvala had this status for a long time. Then the Bhuj-Naliya MG line was built and Naliya became the westernmost station (with a lateral distance of about 10 km). The line from Bhuj to Naliya was closed for several years and now has been taken up for conversion to BG. When the line is completed, Naliya will regain the position-although there are plans to extend the line further west. No picture of Naliya station is seen on the net, so here is one of the next station Naliya Cantt, which is adjacent to the IAF base:

(Google Maps needs to be corrected as Naliya Cantt station is marked as Naliya station.)

Naliya Cantt

 

Next we will see what the extreme points were in the 1970s.

The southernmost railways in India

There are some questions which can be answered easily by a layman. But if you ask a more knowledgeable person you may get a more complicated answer.

Q: Which is the southernmost point of railways in India?

A: Kanniyakumari station is the simple answer:

Kanniyakumari

A plaque at this station says that it was inaugurated by the then PM Morarji Desai on 15 April 1979. Its latitude is 8.0864 N from Google Maps.

Its code is CAPE. But the station never had this name. This is because the place was also known as Cape Comorin earlier on. To be more precise, the southernmost point of the Indian mainland is still called Cape Comorin.

Footnote: For a long time before the mid-50s, Kanniyakumari was part of Travancore state before the reorganization of states placed in the then Madras state as a majority of people in the taluk were Tamil-speaking. But as Travancore state was predominantly Malayalam-speaking, some station signboards had Malayalam inscriptions until a few years ago. Maybe they still exist.

Q: Before that, which was the southernmost point?

A: If one looks at earlier timetables, the southernmost stations as of 1975 were Trivandrum Central (TVC) and Tiruchendur (TCN). It was difficult to make out which was southernmost from ordinary atlases. With the aid of Google Maps, we see that TVC is at 8.4870 N and Tiruchendur is at 8.4986 N. So we see that TVC was the southernmost station until the opening of the lines from TVC and Tirunelveli to Kanniyakumari.

However, if you take the distance between the parallels of latitude then TVC was a little over 1.2 km south of TCN. A narrow win indeed!

Trivandrum

Though the city was traditionally known as Thiruvananthapuram, it was not until 2007 that this and many other stations in Kerala were renamed to fit the Malayalam versions.

A recent picture of the former runner-up:

Tiruchendur

You can see an overview here: https://www.google.co.in/maps/place/Nagercoil,+Tamil+Nadu/@8.6366475,77.5674675,10z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x3b04f0dfc0ddc7b7:0x809a9e32a95d3ed1!8m2!3d8.1832857!4d77.4118996

By enlarging this map you can see the two BG lines from TVC and Tirunelveli meeting at Nagercoil Jn, from where a short branch goes to Kanniyakumari.

In 1975, TVC and TCN were both MG. By 1976 the BG line from Ernakulam was extended via Quilon to TVC, and continued to Kanniyakumari after that. TCN got broad gauge much later in the 2000s.

Q: Did any other railway exist in the deep south before that?

A: Yes, the privately owned KPN Light railway existed (with its main station at Tiruchendur) until it was closed (due to economic reasons, perhaps connected to World War 2) in about 1940. It was 2’0″ narrow gauge. It was duly mentioned in Bradshaws before then, as you can see here:

Kulasekarapatnam line TT

This was owned by the Madras-based Parry’s group of industries to facilitate their activities in that area-in particular, a sugar factory at Kulashekarapatnam. Passenger services were probably more of an afterthought.

If one looks at the map carefully one can see that the southernmost station was Tissianvillai which was indeed the southernmost station in India (at the time it existed), as its latitude was 8.3353 N, somewhat south of TVC. The route of this tiny railway system can be seen here.

https://www.google.co.in/maps/place/Thisayanvilai,+Tamil+Nadu/@8.4062791,77.9075378,12z/data=!4m13!1m7!3m6!1s0x3b04f0dfc0ddc7b7:0x809a9e32a95d3ed1!2sNagercoil,+Tamil+Nadu!3b1!8m2!3d8.1832857!4d77.4118996!3m4!1s0x3b047e50930e95e5:0x1d70ec9eff576a24!8m2!3d8.3349894!4d77.8652573

Whatever little is known about this system is here: https://wiki.fibis.org/w/Kulasekharapatnam_Tissainvillai_Light_Railway

The Tiruchendur station on this line was probably at a different location from the “real” station on metre gauge.

A few years ago a determined rail-fan friend of mine tried to find some existing physical remnants of the track but was unsuccessful. As many years had passed most of the local people did not know much about the track, and no former employee could be found in the vicinity. But there were some who vaguely remembered their grandfathers working on the line.

Q: OK, so that is true of the mainland (though this last line was not really a part of the Indian Railways). What about the island territories?

A: A good question, but you won’t catch me here. There is no record of any industrial railway in Lakshwadeep, but in any case the southernmost point of this territory is on Minicoy which is around the same latitude as Trivandrum.

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands look more promising. Indeed, some industrial railways have existed in the vicinity of Port Blair. But this has around the same latitude as Puducheri.

If there were any such lines in the Nicobar islands, they would be the southernmost railways ever to have existed in India. But there is no record of these, as the Nicobar region remains largely undeveloped even today.

Thanks to Bharath Moro for his account of his search for remnants of the KPN line.