Where trains do not run any more (2019)

Copyrights of the pictures rest with the respective photographers.

Some stations to which no 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.

There are many narrow gauge lines in Gujarat which have closed over the last few decades. Those which survived until the 2010s will ultimately be converted to broad gauge.

Another of these ill-fated NG lines was the Samlaya-Dabhoi section which was affected by floods some years ago . Here are some remnants:

Samlaya NG

Samlaya’s NG station. The BG station can be seen in the background.

Here is one of the wayside stations:

Vagodiya (NG)

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. The branch to Mettur Dam was reopened for passenger traffic after a long gap. And Karaikal has been connected through a new branch.

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 Rameswaram 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 to Lekhapani.

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

 

 

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

The abandoned alignment also includes the 1.9 km-long Longtarai tunnel between Lower Haflong and Ditokcherra.

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 lost its importance 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. Limited trains continued to run to Gitaldaha according to the 1963 timetable, though it is not listed in timetables of the 1970s.

Oddly enough, no picture of New Gitaldaha is available on the net though it has a fair amount of passenger traffic now.

Our next 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 started running in November 2017.

Then there were the famous narrow gauge lines of Martin Burn which ran useful commuter services on 2’0″ gauges into Howrah Maidan. They closed in around 1970. The Howrah-Amta line was converted to BG and electrified, though the Bargachia-Champadanga section remains closed.

The sister line from Howrah to Sheakhala  with the short branch from Chanditala to Janai remains as it was. However, some relics can still be seen:

 

Ghost stations such as the older Madgaon station exist or existed until recently. The old station lies on the Konkan line about a km north of the present station.

In Hyderabad, one can see traces of platforms at Husain Sagar which was listed in timetables at least till the 1970s. A little west of Lingampalli we can see the abandoned station of Telapur on the closed line to Patancheru. That line functioned only for a few years. The expected industrial boom in the then PM’s constituency of Medak never materialized.

And the former terminus at Patancheru is taken over by vegetation:

Patancheru

Update: Local services were resumed in mid-2019 up to Ramachandrapuram, one station before Patancheru.

Often, old stations are bypassed or lose importance in the course of construction of a new line or bridge. Many such stations in the present NF zone were rebuilt at new locations starting in the late 1940s, which accounts for the number of “New” prefixes in this area (Think of NJP and NBQ to begin with).

One such example in Bihar is Mungeri Lal’s hometown. Here are the old and new stations:

 

 

 

India and Bangladesh-the border from hell.

UPDATE: This article describes the situation as it was in May 2015 before the transfer of territories took place.

First have a look at this news report stating that India’s parliament has finally passed legislation regarding the ratification of the land boundary with Bangladesh: http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/rajya-sabha-passes-bill-to-ratify-lba-with-bangladesh/article7177102.ece

So you are wondering what the fuss is about, and why it could not be resolved since 1947. First let us revise some basic geography. As usual, Wikipedia is a good starting point: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enclave_and_exclave

So you now know the difference between an enclave and an exclave, and that there are Indian exclaves in Bangladesh and Bangladeshi exclaves in India. The Bangladeshis would refer to the first type as enclaves in their country while the Indians would refer to the second type as enclaves in their country. These are also called first-order enclaves/exclaves.

So far so good. Then there is the counter-enclave or enclave within an enclave (or exclave within an exclave if you prefer). There are quite a few of these, namely an Indian exclave in Bangladesh which includes a Bangladeshi exclave totally surrounded by the aforementioned Indian exclave. Similarly you would have a Bangladeshi exclave in India which includes an Indian exclave fully surrounded by the aforementioned Bangladeshi exclave. These are known as second-order enclaves/exclaves.

Is your head starting to spin? Finally, we end with the counter-counter enclave or third-order enclave which does have one example. You might as well look at this on the map: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indo-Bangladesh_enclaves#/media/File:Dahala_Khagrabari.png 

Cooch Behar has sometimes been the butt of jokes, with Rushdie’s “Midnight’s Children” having a minor character named the Maharani of Cooch Naheen (i.e. “The Queen of Nothing”). An old map showing the messy border of Cooch Behar can be seen here.

It can be enlarged: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indo-Bangladesh_enclaves#/media/File:Coochbehar.jpg

For an overall view, you could look at this segment from Google maps. Start from the quaintly named village of Phansidewa (“gallows”) and try tracing the border eastward through Jalpaiguri, Cooch Behar and finally Dhubri district: https://www.google.co.in/maps/@26.4979994,88.6693472,11z

(However, as of 2017 Google Maps shows the border as it is today and does not show the enclaves.)

A good overall summary is here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indo-Bangladesh_enclaves Note the apparently true story about the rulers of Cooch Behar and Rangpur exchanging villages as gambling stakes (though they really should have used something like poker chips). The article gives a full list of enclaves (though the actual documents run into hundreds of pages).

Life in these exclaves can be harsh. You would generally live in close proximity to trigger-happy border guards and barbed wire, while your “parent” country would not be able to ensure any services to your territory as you can see here: http://archive.thedailystar.net/2004/06/17/d40617070171.htm

This weird border has attracted the attention of trivia-hunters and serious scholars from around the world. Apart from various magazine articles referenced in the Wikipedia article, you can even download a doctoral thesis (over 500 pages long) with the quaint title of “Waiting for the esquimo”: “Waiting for the esquimo: An historical and documentary study of the Cooch Behar enclaves of India and Bangladesh”

Tail piece: My old friend Milan Chatterjee wondered if any railway line on the Indian side of the border crossed any Bangladeshi exclave. A closer look at the route from Cooch Behar to Gitaldaha and Bamanhat revealed that this was not the case, but that the abandoned line from Bamanhat to the border did momentarily cross three of these enclaves: https://www.google.co.in/maps/place/Cooch+Behar,+West+Bengal/@26.0731929,89.5882181,14z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x39e2fc1ce181e4bd:0xe7787e092217f629 These stretches would total about 700 M (estimated by eye).

It is also understood that the old Gitaldaha Junction was relocated to a new location further from the border, and this was naturally known as New Gitaldaha Junction. It is still possible to visit the “old” Gitaldaha junction where a now-defunct bridge crossed the river into East Pakistan/Bangladesh.

However, on the Bangladeshi side of the border the line from Burimari (on the border) to Lalmonirhat does pass through a few hundred metres of two Indian exclaves. It is not known if there is any particular problem with train operations here: https://www.google.co.in/maps/@26.3082452,89.0624778,14z

Finally, here is a 28-minute video by an Indian TV channel showing various aspects of life in the enclaves (Mainly English, some Hindi and Bengali): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7hijHa0DYQ