The Assam Bengal Railway in 1929

I happened to run into a British expert in railway history who had material from all over the world. One of the things he had was an Assam Bengal Railway timetable of 1929. He was kind enough to send me scans of a few pages from it. These are mainly from Sylhet and Cachar districts of the past.

ABR-1929 coverABR-1929 mapAssam Bengal TT p 014Assam Bengal TT p 015Assam Bengal TT p 016Assam Bengal TT p 023Assam Bengal TT p 026

Those familiar with the NFR would recognize the cover picture of a point on the Lumding-Badarpur section.

The Assam Bengal Railway ceased to exist in 1942 when it was combined with the Eastern Bengal Railway to form the Bengal & Assam Railway, which effectively covered all railways to the east of the Hooghly. This was primarily to facilitate efficient running of the war against Japan, and the US armed forces took control of the main routes into and in Assam.

This new creation lasted only a few years. Partition caused the B & A R to be broken into three parts. The BG lines left in West Bengal essentially became the Sealdah division of the EIR, which was then broken up into the ER and NR. What was left (both BG and MG besides a bit of NG) in East Pakistan was initially called the Eastern Bengal Railway until 1961, then the Pakistan Eastern Railway and finally Bangladesh Railways.

The MG lines in northern West Bengal, a bit of Bihar and everything to the east were combined with a few smaller systems (such as the NG Darjeeling Himalayan Railway and the company-owned lines around Tinsukia) became first the Assam Railway, then part of the North Eastern Railway and finally the Northeast Frontier Railway in 1958.

Some points of interest:

No express or mail trains served Chittagong and Sylhet. They were not directly connected to Dacca and other parts of present-day Bangladesh as there was no bridge over the Meghna at Ashuganj/Bhairab Bazar (though there was a ferry). The bridge was opened only in 1937.

There was, however, the Surma Mail which you can see running from Chandpur to Silchar via Laksam, Akhaura and Karimganj. Possibly it had slip coaches for Chittagong and Sylhet, though these would be mentioned elsewhere in the timetable. It would have started from Sealdah and passengers would have to travel in the ferry from Goalundo Ghat to Chandpur. Other ferries linked Goalundo Ghat to Narayanganj (for Dacca).

Note that extracts from various old timetables can be seen here:

http://www.irfca.org/gallery/Heritage/timetables/ 

Most of these are small fragments, as it is a painful process to scan large numbers of pages from the fragile originals. Even so, there are complete timetables of the North Western Railway and Jodhpur Railway from the 1943 Bradshaw, which cover the entire area of Pakistan and parts of Rajasthan and UP, besides most of Haryana and Punjab.

There is a copy of the 1943 Bradshaw which someone got hold of, which has been repeatedly copied and circulated to dozens of railfans connected with the IRFCA group. Someone seems to have got hold of the Bradshaws of the 1930s and has put up a few pages pertaining to present Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

There is also a full timetable of the BB & CIR from 1937 (roughly corresponding to the pre-2002 WR).

In case you are wondering, foreign websites (mainly abebooks.com, also ebay.com, Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk) occasionally stock old Indian zonal timetables and Bradshaws from small independent booksellers (mainly in the UK). But any Bradshaw or all-India TT before the 1980s may cost a few hundred US dollars. Old zonal timetables are rarer but not so expensive-for instance, a few years ago one NWR timetable of 1930 was available for about 35 USD including shipping to India.

Advertisements

Where trains do not run any more

Copyrights of the pictures rest with the respective photographers.

Some stations to which no passenger train runs now.

First, one in Gujarat where the railway line does not exist now:

Ghanta

The picture was taken in around 1980. The station was on the long-closed NG line from Champaner Road to Pani Mines, near Vadodara.

From the Chennai area, where EMUs used to run until a few years ago. Departmental trains still run there, since the furnishing division of ICF is situated near Anna Nagar.

In Tamil Nadu, there are numerous abandoned branch lines which closed between the 1960s and 1980s. Some branches, such as the one to Mannargudi, have been rebuilt in recent years. Perhaps the most well-known abandoned terminus is Dhanushkodi. This is all that you will see now:

Dhanushkodi

The cyclone of December 1964 resulted in the closure of the Pamban-Dhanushkodi section, which was listed as the “main line” in timetables of that period. Damage to the line was extensive enough to result in it being abandoned and the branch to Dhanushkodi now became the main line with ferries to Talaimannar in Sri Lanka.

The disturbances in Sri Lanka from 1983 put an end to the ferry services. Though the civil war is now over and the connecting lines in Sri Lanka are functioning again, it is unlikely that the ferries will run in the foreseeable future. But Rameswaram, unlike Dhanushkodi, has enough traffic to justify train services to all parts of India.

This was once the easternmost point of IR, though the extension from Ledo was built only in the late 1950s. It was closed after the BG was extended to Ledo, and it was not felt worthwhile to convert the remaining line to Ledo.

Lekhapani_station

However, one can see signs of economic activity here.

This was once the terminus at Ernakulam, once metre gauge and then broad gauge. It lost its importance in around 1940 when it was bypassed in a new alignment going to Ernakulam Town, Ernakulam Jn and Cochin Harbour Terminus. In its last years it was used only by departmental goods trains, and probably the last of them ran in 2001.

Ernakulam Goods

Another station which had passenger services up to the 2000s was Singareni Collieries, though I could not get a picture of it. It still has goods traffic. It is marked on Google Maps as Yellandu, although railway documents still mention the former station with code SYI.

And there are these recently orphaned stations on the Lumding-Silchar section: (Bagetar is the one on the top left).

 

Here is the station at Lower Haflong after it was abandoned:

Lower Haflong closed

Elsewhere in Assam, here is a current picture of Tezpur station. It is not likely to see trains again as there is insufficient space for broad gauge. Trains now terminate at the BG station at Dekargaon a few km to the north.

tezpur

In North Bengal, we have this former junction very close to the Bangladesh border:

Gitaldaha (abandoned)

It was closed soon after Partition as through trains ceased to run across the border. A newer station was built some distance away from the border and was called New Gitaldaha Jn. Oddly enough, no picture of this station is available on the net though it has a fair amount of passenger traffic now.

Our last stop is also in West Bengal, but on a more optimistic note:

Petrapole-2

This lies on the east of Bangaon, close to the border with Bangladesh. It saw some passenger traffic with the Sealdah/Khulna Barisal Express for some years up to the 1965 war. After that no traffic crossed the border for 25 years or more. Later goods trains from India started using the track-in 2008 many IR wagons could be seen at sidings on stations between Khulna and Jessore. Finally a weekly express between Kolkata and Khulna is likely to start running in mid-November 2017. Trial runs have been held in recent months.

 

 

 

Old and new stations on the Lumding-Silchar line

Please refer to this earlier post, where the changes in the alignment in the Haflong area are described.

https://abn397.wordpress.com/2015/06/25/bg-link-to-silchar-is-finally-ready/

Earlier the old and new alignments could be seen on Google Maps. Now only the new alignment is shown.

A number of stations are no longer on the route and have thus vanished from the railway map. And some new stations have come up.

Here are pictures of the some of the old and new stations. Copyrights of the pictures are with their creators:

Old stations (The one in the top left is Bagetar):

BagetarHaflong HillHarangajaoJatingaLower Haflong

New stations:

Jatinga LumpurNew HaflongNew Harangajao

 

And here is another interesting sign you may see near Jatinga:

Jatinga village