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.

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: 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: . 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.)