The northern-most railway station in India is Sopore, at lat 34.26 N. The terminus of this line is Baramula, at 34.22 N
It seems unlikely that any line will be built further north. If the railway finally reaches Leh, it will still be at around the same latitude as Srinagar.
The northernmost station:
and the northernmost terminus:
You know that Ghum (near Darjeeling) is the highest station in India at 2258 M, which is on narrow gauge.
And Udagamandalam is the highest on metre gauge, at 2210 M.
The highest on broad gauge is in Kashmir, where the little-known station of Hiller Shahabad (between Banihal and Qazigund, just north of the tunnel) is at 1757 M
You may notice something odd about the Hindi inscription.
However, if a line to Leh gets built it will reach at least 3500 M which will be by far the highest point on the Indian Railways.
Our last stop today is a remnant of the old Sialkot-Jammu line, which must have shut down soon after Partition.
Here you can see the services listed in June 1944:
In the middle section, we can see that services were limited to two pairs of passenger trains between Wazirabad and Jammu via Sialkot.
The international border between Pakistan’s Punjab and the present UT of Jammu and Kashmir fell between Suchetgarh and Ranbirsinghpura, 15.86 miles from Jammu and 9.08 miles from Sialkot (approximately 25.5 and 14.6 km respectively). However, it appears that a part of Suchetgarh town is in India.
The last station on the Indian side can still be seen:
You can just make out the station name.
The history of this line after partition is not properly documented. Probably services would have stopped shortly after partition, and the rails on the Indian side would soon have been pulled up as the route was not useful. Meanwhile, the Indian BG network crept up from Pathankot to Madhopur (Punjab) and Kathua, reaching the new Jammu Tawi station in 1972.
As you know, the first (?) railway terminus in this state is Naharlagun which serves the capital Itanagar. There is also an intermediate station Gumto between Harmuti Jn (in Assam) and Naharlagun.
For a long time it used to be said that Bhalukpong was the first station in the state. While Bhalukpong town is in Arunachal Pradesh and spills in to Assam, the station is in Assam and just short of the border. That is what Google Maps shows.
However, there is no Assamese inscription on the sign, which would be there if it was in Assam. Also note that the sign says Bhaluk Pong (2 words) in English and Hindi.
It may be more correct to say that Naharlagun is the first important station in the state, as traffic to Bhalukpong was generally low and was suspended for long periods.
However, the first railway line to be laid in Arunachal Pradesh is a stretch of about 500 M between Dimow and Dipa on the Dhemaji-Murkong Selek section. It is not known whether the state government keeps an eye on infiltration on this route.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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: