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.

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Station signs then and now

Rajshahi, Bangladesh in late 1971:

Rajshahi station-old

Rajshahi today:

Rajshahi station-new

Dinajpur, Bangladesh also in late 1971. The two pictures from 1971 appear to have been taken by Indian military personnel:

Dinajpur old

Dinajpur today:

Dinajpur new

Karachi Cantt in the 1940s (from a film taken by a British soldier): Possibly young L. K. Advani appears in it somewhere.

Karachi Cantt-1

Karachi Cantt today:

Karachi Cantt new (2)

Lahore Jn, probably around 1940:

Lahore-just-before-Partition

Lahore Jn today:

Lahore today

 

 

 

Tests between Bangladesh and India: the records

The story of Tests between these countries is simply told. A total of 9 Tests have been played between these teams, all but one in Bangladesh.India won 6 of the 8 Tests in Bangladesh and the only one in India. Weather probably prevented a clean sweep.

In these 9 Tests, Dravid, Zaheer and Tendulkar played the most Tests-7.

We now proceed to Batting:

Most runs (200 and above):

bd-v-ind-runs

Tendulkar and Dravid have scored considerably more than others. Next comes Ashraful.

The most centuries are 5 by Tendulkar and 3 by Dravid. For 50+ scores, it is 5 by Tendulkar and 4 by Dravid and Ganguly. Tendulkar converted all his fifties to centuries.

Highest innings (90 and above):

bd-v-ind-innings

2 double centuries, including Tendulkar’s career-best 248*. 4 centuries were scored in the recent Test, including another 200 by V Kohli.

Highest batting average (minimum 10 innings batted):

bd-v-ind-batting-average

Only these 4 qualify. Interesting that Dravid is followed by 3 Bangladeshis. Also note that Ashraful has the highest strike rate of 69.67

Now for Bowling:

Most wickets (8 and above):

bd-v-ind-wkts

Zaheer Khan leads by a large margin, followed by Irfan Pathan’s 18-wicket haul in 2 Tests in 2004. Also note Mohammad Rafique’s contribution as their leading spinner in the early years.

Best innings bowling (all instances of 5wi):

bd-v-ind-innings-bowling

Zaheer and Pathan dominate again. Pathan has the most 5wis with 3, followed by Zaheer with 2.

Best match bowling (7 or more wickets):

bd-v-ind-match-bowling

The same pair again have the only 10wms. Next comes SB Joshi in the first Test between these teams.

Bowling averages (Minimum 1000 balls):

bd-v-ind-bowling-average

Only three qualify for this cutoff. Zaheer’s average is much better.

Now for Fielding:

Most fielding dismissals (5 or more):

bd-v-ind-fielding

Dhoni leads, as you expect, although he has played only 3 Tests in this series. He is closely followed by Kartik who kept in some Tests. Dravid has the most dismissals among non-keepers.

Most innings dismissals (4 and more):

bd-v-ind-innings-fielding

Most match dismissals (5 and more):

bd-v-ind-match-fielding

Here Dhoni is far ahead. Das and Ganguly have the most dismissals for non-keepers.

Dismissal rate (minimum 10 innings fielded, all instances):

bd-v-ind-fielding-average

Kartik has a large lead over Dravid, who has the highest dismissal rate among non-keepers.

All-round overall performance (see criteria below):

bd-v-ind-ar-overall

Though Shakib is considered as one of the leading all-rounders today, Zaheer Khan happened to bat well here and thus has a better difference.

And finally, there is the best all-round performance (50 and 5wi in the same match):

bd-v-ind-ar-match

Only one entry here, by a lesser-known player in the first Test between these teams.

The Lac-Megantic disaster of 2013

The Indian Railways are often the butt of jokes when a number of accidents happen in succession. But it is cold comfort to know that railway operating procedures in developed countries are far from perfect. As in the case of the derailment followed by fire at Lac-Megantic in Quebec province on July 6, 2013.

Here is a  Powerpoint presentation on this accident, which was used in a conference of safety engineering at IIT Gandhinagar in January 2017.

the-fire-disaster-at-lac-megantic-quebec

Note the videos on slides 8 and 9. They are important in understanding the sequence of events. The one on slide 8 is more accurate and is largely based on the accident investigation report. The one on slide 9 has a serious error as it shows the train slipping backwards, with the tank cars leading the locomotives. In fact the train went down the incline in its existing configuration of locomotives followed by other cars and tank cars.

You may wonder if something like this could happen on the Indian Railways. Certainly a heavy goods train would not be left totally unattended on an incline in mid-section. That is exactly what happened here.

There are a number of safety-related issues which have not been covered above, such as the hazards caused by additives used to increase the viscosity of crude oil for transportation.

For further reading:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lac-M%C3%A9gantic_rail_disaster

http://www.tsb.gc.ca/eng/rapports-reports/rail/2013/r13d0054/r13d0054-r-es.asp

 

 

Test all-round performances of 2016

This refers to all Tests in the calendar year 2016.

Overall all-round performance (see criteria below):

tests2016-aroverall

Ashwin deservedly leads this list, followed closely by Stokes.

All-round performance in matches (at least one fifty and one five-for):

tests2016-armatch

The list of 6 instances includes 2 by Ashwin and 2 by Jadeja. Chase made a match-saving century and took a fiver in his 2nd Test. Dilruwan Perera and Jadeja performed the less common double of a fifty and 10 wickets in a match. Jadeja was the only one of the 20-odd of these players (who took 50/10wm) to take more than 2 catches.

Over to 2017.

Test fielding performances of 2016

This is for all Tests in the calendar year 2016.

Most dismissals (10 and above):

tests2016-fielding

Note the relatively low proportion of stumpings, with Bairstow and Kusal Perera leading with 4. The most catches by non-keepers are 29 by SPD Smith followed by JE Root with 26. Also note that Bairstow’s tally of 70 dismissals is almost double that of the second-placed Sarfraz Ahmed.

Most dismissals in an innings (4 and above):

tests2016-fieldinngs

While Bairstow and Saha lead, Root has the highest for non-keepers with 4.

Most dismissals in a match (5 and above):

tests2016-fieldmatch

Note Bairstow’s dominance at the top, being the only one with two 9-fors, as well as several more near the top. The most by non-keepers is 6 by Smith.

Highest fielding average (Minimum 15 innings fielded, 0.500 or more dismissals per innings):

tests2016-fieldavg

Here de Kock is a little ahead of Bairstow. Among the non-keepers, Smith and Root lead (along with Kusal Mendis who kept in a few matches)

To be continued.

Famous Diesels

The original inventor Rudolf Diesel 

The French police dog Diesel who was martyred in the terror attacks in France in 2015:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diesel_(dog) . She deserves to have her picture here:

diesel-dog

 

The other famous Mr Diesel: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vin_Diesel

The Italian clothing brand: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diesel_(brand) 

which often features in jokes about Rahul Gandhi and the prices of petrol and diesel.

And finally the icon of Indian Railways: