Stations in the news-Jul 2021

The section from Mahesana to Varetha has been converted to broad gauge and electrified. The last station on the MG route Taranga Hill is now off the railway map.

The route includes Vadnagar and its famous tea stall. Read this:

The new look of Vadnagar station:

The new terminus at Varetha as it earlier was:

Presumably it has been improved now.

And the now abandoned station of Taranga Hill:

Until recently these DMUs were the only trains running between Mahesana and Taranga Hill. In the 1970s there was also a passenger train from Ahmedabad.

The vortex in Bhortex, and other stories

An average railfan would have seen the station of Bhortex in the WR timetable, and wondered how this “non-Indian” spelling came there. However, this is what you will see there:

This is in Maharashtra, on the Surat-Bhusaval section. You can see that it is spelt Bhortek (in English, Hindi and Marathi). A look at maps of the area confirms this. In fact, the timetable entry changed to Bhortex some years ago. It looks like a clerical error by the timetable department. But no one has bothered to change it. Bhortex also remains in the RBS site.

Another persistent error relates to this station:

This is in Punjab, near the Punjab-HP border on the Kangra Valley line. Anyone slightly familiar with Indian history would realize that the spelling is correct. This station serves the hill station of that name. But the NR timetables and the RBS site have chopped the last E for several years, and display Dalhousi Road today. This would again been a clerical error which no one has bothered to correct.

Now to Jharkhand, on the Gomoh-Daltonganj branch and not far from McCluskieganj we have:

The station is listed as Gumia. In the locality both Gumia and Gomia are used, especially as the only large industrial unit there uses Gomia. It appears that the local practice was initially to spell it Gumia, though Gomia became more widespread since the 1960s. Now even the station sign says Gomia, but the timetables and RBS still stick to the old name.

There are many instances of British names becoming Indianized, such as Worsleyganj becoming Waris Aleganj and McDonald’s Choultry becoming Magudan Chavadi. But there is one odd example from Bareilly in UP. You would have heard of the divisional headquarters at Izatnagar. Or is it Izzatnagar?

When you reach this station, you will see these signs:

So which is correct? In the vicinity you will see both varieties being used in shops and offices.

It was indeed Izatnagar to start with, named after a British railway manager named Alexander Izat. There is also an Izat Bridge elsewhere on the NER near Allahabad. But somehow the word “Izzat” crept in, and now features in the timetable and RBS.

But we can see that no one in the railways seems to care if the signs with different spellings are standing in close proximity.

More about Mr Izat and the Izat bridge here:

https://wiki.fibis.org/w/Izat_Bridge

Other misspellings have lasted for a few years before being corrected. Examples would be “Duckyard Road” for this:

This is in Mumbai on the Harbour Branch. Far away in the Nilgiris, this station

was listed as “Hillgroove” for some years. (These mistakes may have been because “duckyard” and “groove” are valid English words).

There are, of course, numerous stations where you will find signboards with different spellings, often on the same platform. Some well-known ones are Hafizpet/peta and Washer(man/men)pet which you can still see today.

We close with a station in a relatively remote part of Rajasthan, between Bandikui and Bharatpur. It is listed as Tarchhera Baraoli Ran. This is what you will see there:

So someone, either at the NWR headquarters or the local painter has messed up.

But if you check Google maps for this locality (at 27.21 N, 77.10 E) it is shown as Talchera Baraoliran. That is what the sign says. So the timetable is wrong again.

Now, does this really matter to most people including railway passengers of the area? Not really, since they usually know where they are going regardless of what the timetable or sign says.

But it does seem to show that the station sign is more likely to be correct than the official website or timetable.

Anyone seeking to create a practical railway guide or map should keep this in mind. In most cases pictures of the sign can be found in the site https://indiarailinfo.com/ at the entry for the particular station.

India’s far north

Those familiar with the Indian Railways would know that the northern-most station is Sopore (lat 34.26 N). It is just ahead of the terminus at Baramula (34.22).

It is uncertain if any further railway lines in this area will be built in the next few years. One plan included a connection to Kupwara (34.53) which should be the northern-most station in India if the line is built.

Meanwhile, the northern-most station which is connected to the rest of IR’s network is SMVD Katra at 32.98

The title of the northern-most junction is a tie between Pathankot and Bharoli which are at 32.27. This is a tie when latitudes are measured to 2 decimal places.

The northern-most airport with regular commercial flights is Leh (34.14) which is just ahead of Srinagar (33.99)

The northern-most airport with regular military transport flights is Daulat Beg Oldi (35.39) It is said to be 8 km south of the border with China. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daulat_Beg_Oldi

There may be helicopter landing grounds in the Siachen Glacier at still higher latitudes.

Down South

Completing our study of station names including directions.

The word South is Dakshin/Dakshina/Dakkhin in several languages including Hindi, Bengali, Kannada and Telugu.

This listing is not supposed to be comprehensive.

We start with

Here, South is transliterated into both languages.

Similarly here:

This pair from Andhra Pradesh is more interesting:

In the older sign above, South is transliterated into both languages.

In the newer sign, the correct Hindi and Telugu words are used.

And this station does not appear to have any passenger services.

The correct Hindi and Kannada words have been used here.

“South” also appears in the middle of a name, like in this station on the Kanpur-Banda section:

Guest appearances:

This was known as Ernakulam South from the late 1930s to the late 1950s. However, a fair number of local people persist in using the old name (as in the case of Ernakulam Town) which still causes trouble to visitors.

Simlarly, Ashokapuram was earlier known as Mysore South (long before Mysuru appeared).

There are a number of stations in Bengal which start with Dakkhin. The best known must be:

However, the place name may not originally have anything to do with the word South.

Another is

There is indeed a better-known Barasat in the Kolkata area, though this station is far from there.

One may argue that this (below) is not really a separate station. But you can see this sign inside the Sealdah complex:

Thanks to S Aravind, Ganesh Iyer and others for their suggestions.

Up North

There seems to be only one station with “North” as a prefix:

While North is transliterated into Hindi, the word Uttor in Assamese is used.

Due to space constraints, the name in English is written as a single word.

Also in Assam there is

where North is transliterated into both Hindi and Assamese.

In the vicinity of Visakhapatnam there is

Here, the word for North is a prefix both for Hindi and Telugu.

Next to Coimbatore:

Interesting. The Tamil word Vadakku is used here, which is then transliterated into Hindi. There are several better-known instances like this in the Chennai area.

In Kerala, there is Vadakara (formerly Badagara).

The word Vadaka is North in Malayalam. However, the place name may not have intended to say this.

There are a few others like this in Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

Still in Tamil Nadu:

It is easy to check that the station and locality are “North”. However just the initial for N is used in all three languages.

Finally, this station was known as Ernakulam North from the time it was opened in the late 1930s until the late 1950s.

Local people still habitually refer to it as North station, which can cause problems to outsiders who do not know this. Like the case of Cantt station for Varanasi Jn.

Kalupur for Ahmedabad and Nampalli for Hyderabad are different cases since these stations never officially had these names.

Thanks to Ganesh Iyer and Milan Chatterjee for more ideas.

East is East

Here we explore the stations in India with the suffix “East”. There do not seem to be any with the prefix.

It is not supposed to be a comprehensive list.

The best known one is Bengaluru East:

Including its predecessor above.

Here, the Hindi word and Kannada word seem to be correct translations.

Now to smaller places like Kundara in Kerala:

While Hindi is correct, Malayalam is still East transliterated.

Next to Andhra Pradesh:

Hindi and Telugu appear to be correct.

Tamil Nadu is more complicated. We start with a smaller city:

This was the old station for ages, until a new Kanchipuram station came up to its west. The Tamil word “Kizhaku” seems to be correct.

But Madurai East is different:

Here, a short form similar to E Madurai has been used unlike in the case of Kanchipuram.

Salem East was a small station closed long ago. And Tirupati East became Tirupati even earlier, probably in the 1960s.

It is interesting to see that naming conventions vary even within the same state.

Tailpiece: East can be a middle word, as in Sone East Bank up to the 1940s. Now it is Son Nagar:

Why does this station exist? – an introduction

If you look closely at the major railway routes in South Asia and elsewhere, you will notice fairly large railway facilities at places which were not important towns to begin with. So there must have been some reasons for locating these stations at a particular place.

Sometimes the reasoning was clearly stated. In the earlier days of the East Indian Railway the large workshops and training centres were set up at Jamalpur in Bihar. The EIR administration did say that they did not want the junior employees to be distracted by the bright lights of Calcutta.

Another peculiar station was Barog on the Kalka-Shimla route. This station does not have much population in the vicinity and exists primarily to provide food to the passengers. (Although there is a larger town Solan few km away),

On the micro scale, crossing stations needed to be set up for the convenience of smooth running on single line sections. There are literally hundreds of such stations all over the country. For example, persons familiar with the Haridwar-Dehradun area would know Motichur and Kansrao stations which exist only for crossing purposes.

Junctions would need to be set up where important routes met. Other stations with coaling and watering facilities for steam locos would need to be set up at certain intervals. Sometimes this could be done at the junctions. If not, a large station would have to be set up at a place which was not already a junction. The criteria for location would be that it would be 100-250 km from the nearest station with similar facilities.

We will look at such stations on the trunk routes in subsequent blogposts.

Dead Centre

A continuation of “Go West, young man”

There are 5 large stations in India with the suffix “Central”:

Strarting with the northernmost, we then move down to:

Where the word Central is transliterated to Hindi and Marathi.

It may not be commonly known that the local station existed before the terminus was opened in 1930. It was earlier called Bellasis Road.

Down the west coast to:

In Hindi and Kannada here.

Further along the coast to:

While the top inscription looks like a single word, it does include “central” transliterated into Malayalam.

And finally to

Which is now

Has the Tamil inscription for Central changed? In the old sign it follows the trend of transliteration from English. In the new sign the correct (?) term “Mattiya” is the first word of the 3rd line, while the Hindi sign is like all the others. (Though one character in the old sign looks quite odd).

There is also a Metro station in Kolkata called Central:

Where Central is transliterated into Bengali.

Onwards to East, South and North.

Long quiz-Sep 2020

  1. What is special about this station?

2. What is special about the BG siding here?

3. What is unusual about these two station signs? Explain.

4. What additional language is on this sign?

5. This is often labelled as “Nawab Station”, although no such name is in the timetable. Which station is this?

6. With luck, you may be able to get tuna at Tuni station. But there was another station called Tuna in the past. In which present-day state is it?

7. Bengali travelers can try to get fish at this station restaurant. Which state or province is it in?

8. Many clocks at stations and other public places were supplied by P. Orr & Sons of Madras. This small station is far from Madras. In which state?

9. Consider these two pairs of stations:

9A

and 9B:

What do the pair in 9A have in common with the pair in 9B?

10. What is unusual about this station which is not in India?

11. This shows the abandoned station which used to be a ferry terminal as well as being adjacent to a zonal headquarters until the mid-60s. Name it.

12. The fate of Dhanushkodi is well known. But you can still see the remains of it. A small terminus in the North-East was less fortunate as it fell into the Brahmaputra after an earthquake in the 1950s. Which was it?

ANSWERS:

The best response was by Biswarup Basu. Honourable mention to Ganesh Iyer and Bharat Parashar:

  1. Kot Kapura is the northern most point of metre gauge in India. It was connected by MG to Bathinda and Fazilka, which are to its south.
  2. The Tirap siding is beyond Ledo, and is the eastern most point of IR in India. BG goods trains run there. Further east there is the abandoned MG line to Lekhapani. There are also non-IR industrial lines nearby.
  3. The normal practice is to have the state’s official language on top. In Nagaland (Dimapur) and Mendipathar (Meghalaya), English script is used for official purposes so it is on top.
  4. Dogri language, which is one of the 22 official languages.
  5. This is a part of Rampur station (between Bareilly and Moradabad in UP). This platform had been used for the royal train of the Nawab of Rampur. The dilapidated platform and coaches are probably still there.
  6. In Gujarat, on an abandoned portion of the Cutch State Railway.

7. Balochistan, at the foot of the Bolan Pass going to Quetta. This station, like Karjat, is the base for banking locomotives for uphill trains.

8. Madhya Pradesh, on the Kota-Bina section.

9. These are connected with unusual gauges which were not used anywhere else on IR. The Arconum-Conjeevaram line was initially constructed with 3’6″ and was soon converted to metre gauge, and finally to broad gauge more recently. The Azimganj-Nalhati section was initially constructed with 4’0″ and was soon converted to broad gauge. This loco was converted at the same time and can still be seen at the National Rail Museum.

10. Quasba (Kamalasagar until the late 40s) is in Bangladesh on the main line from Akhaura to Chattogram. It is practically on the border with India and trains can easily be observed from the Indian side.

11. Pandu, on the south bank of the Brahmaputra. A ferry service from Aminigaon ran there until the mid-1960s. The NF zone headquarters was initially here and later moved to Maligaon.

12. Saikhowa Ghat, on a branch from Makum. This branch now terminates at Dangari.

 

Quick quiz-Place names with initials.

Try to find the full forms of these place names. Google may help in some cases:

  1. An easy one to start with. What is Wimco?
?????????????

2. Which station? And what important railway facilities are there?

3. What is DMW?

4. What does DAV stand for?

5. What is WRS? and which city is nearby?

6. This is not in West Bengal, but in another state where Bengali is the main language. What does S.K. stand for?

ANSWERS BELOW:

  1. WIMCO stands for the Western India Match Company, a long-standing MNC which was taken over by ITC in the 2000s. The main factories were in Ambernath and Chennai (which had this station which remains after the factory was closed).
  2. NKJ= New Katni Jn. A major electric loco shed is nearby (with locos marked NKJ). There is also a diesel loco shed nearby with locos marked “Katni”.
  3. Diesel Loco Modernization Works at Patiala. It was earlier known as Diesel Component Works, which had the initials DCW. https://dmw.indianrailways.gov.in/
  4. There are DAV colleges and schools in many towns in northern India. This stands for Dayanand Anglo Vedic. There is also a halt station for DAV College Jalalabad, a smaller town in Punjab.
  5. The Wagon Repair Shop colony in Raipur.
  6. Sindhu Kumar Para in Tripura. It is not clear why a relatively short name like this needs initials.

The quickest good responses were from Ganesh Iyer and Pavel Ghosh.

Place names with initials

We have now covered places whose commonly used names include initials. The initials may not always be obvious.

A Maharashtrian passing BG Nagar may think it was named after Bal Gangadhar Tilak. JK Puram in Andhra Pradesh has nothing to do with the JK Singhania group, but is Jaggambhotla Kamalapuram. There are numerous TTs in Mumbai which refer not to table tennis but Tram Terminuses. (Not termini, though only some words ending with -us end in i)

Let us look at some station names which include initials:

Most of you should be clear as to what the initials stand for.

In some cases the initials are spelt out:

But there are some which are more difficult to decipher. We shall see more of these.

More mysteries in Karnataka

After solving the mystery of T-Sakibanda , the Special Investigative Team turned its attention to mysterious names in Karnataka. They are relatively new, as they came up in the last decade on the Bengaluru-Hassan line via Shravanabelagola. We first take up B.G. Nagar station:

All the languages mention only the initials B.G. Looking in the map of the surroundings, there is no immediate clue to the full form of B.G. Nagar.

There is however the BGSIT or BGS Institute of Technology nearby:

https://www.google.co.in/maps/place/BGS+INSTITUTE+OF+TECHNOLOGY/@12.9651433,76.7262857,16z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x3bafeed69801ae53:0xa9dd86aab57869ad!8m2!3d12.9651433!4d76.7284744

The institute’s website http://www.bgsit.ac.in/ indicates that its name is in commemoration of a person named

Sri Sri Sri Dr.Balagangadharanatha Maha Swamiji

Founder President, Sri Adichunchanagiri Matt

So now you know what the B.G. stands for. You could not expect the full name to come on the station sign. Case closed.

Our next visit is to D. Samudhravalli, further west after Shravanabelagola.

Here you can see that D is followed by a full stop. What does D stand for?

The station is at a place called Samudravalli while D Samudravalli is another place which is not on the railway.

That still does not help us.

By googling for Samudravalli, we identify a nearby place called B Samudravalli.

It looks like there are different places called A, B, C and D Samudravalli as it needs to be administered in four parts.

Case closed.

The Special Investigative Team is looking for more such cases to study. So far they could find BEML Nagar and VOC Nagar which are easy to expand. So some more place names with odd initials will have to be identified.