West to East by Metre Gauge in 1976

In this post https://abn397.wordpress.com/2021/09/18/delhi-to-madras-by-metre-gauge-in-1976/

we had explored an all-MG route between Delhi and Madras which existed in 1976, as well as the extremities of metre gauge at Kot Kapura and Tiruchendur at that time,

In 1976, the extremities of metre gauge were Varvala (near Okha) in the west and Lekhapani (near Ledo) in the east. These were also the extremities of IR as broad gauge had not spread to these areas yet.

Here, we travel from Okha (the western-most terminus) to Lekhapani.

Names are as they were in 1976. There do not seem to have been any instances of inflated distances on this route.

        WEST TO EAST BY METRE GAUGE IN 1976
 
 
Km 
0Okha 
29Dwarka 
141Kanalus 
166Jamnagar 
247Rajkot 
289Wankaner 
365Surendranagar 
428Viramgam 
493Mahesana 
563Palanpur 
616Abu Road 
781Marwar Jn 
869Beawar 
921Ajmer 
1001Phulera 
1056Jaipur 
1147Bandikui 
1244Bharatpur 
1272AchhneraEnd of WR 
1307Mathura 
1358Hathras Road 
1412Kasganj 
1520Farukhabad 
1660Kanpur Central 
1731Lucknow 
1763Barabanki 
1791Burhwal 
1852Gonda 
2006Gorakhpur 
2076Bhatni 
2125Siwan 
2185Chhapra Jn 
2240Sonpur 
2245Hajipur 
2316Bachwara 
2332Barauni 
2388Khagaria 
2511KatiharEnd of NER 
2551Barsoi 
2606Kishanganj 
2713Siliguri Jn 
2761New Mal 
2876Alipurduar Jn
2948Fakiragram
2985New Bongaigaon
3095Rangiya
3158Gauhati
3250Chaparmukh
3339Lumding
3408Dimapur
3516Mariani
3570Simaluguri
3671Tinsukia
3725Ledo
3734LekhapaniNFR

As you can see, this route passes through only three of the existing zones at that time.

It passed through the states of GJ, RJ, UP, BR, WB, AS and NL.

While the Sonpur-Muzaffarpur-Samastipur-Barauni section was already broad gauge, most of the long-distance trains continued to run on MG as the BG lines were too limited in these areas.

The Ledo-Lekhapani section had very limited services of one pair of trains per day. It was opened in the late 1950s after conversion of a privately-owned 2’0″ NG line. Later, it was not found worthwhile to convert to BG so Ledo remains the eastern-most passenger station. The BG line continues a little further east to Tirap Siding where coal is loaded on goods trains.

A possible set of trains for this route (from 1976) are:

Okha-Mahesana Janata Express to Mahesana

Various express trains to Jaipur or Bandikui.

Various express/passenger trains to Achhnera or Agra Fort.

Vaishali Express to Siliguri. (Yes, at that time it started from Agra Fort).

Various express trains to Tinsukia (Assam Mail was direct, otherwise change at NBQ).

Various passenger trains to Ledo.

One passenger train to Lekhapani.

Today, we have through BG trains from Gujarat to Assam.

Delhi to Madras by metre gauge in 1976

While the near-complete removal of metre gauge from all important routes starting from the late 1970s, it would be a surprise to younger railfans that as late as 1976 it was possible to travel from Delhi Jn to Madras Egmore wholly by metre gauge. There was, of course, no such train but by a series of reasonably good MG expresses it was possible to make this journey of 2772 km. (In contrast, the standard GT express route would be 2182 km from Delhi Jn to Madras Central).

Let us begin our journey from Delhi Jn. I have taken the distances from the 1976 All India Time Table. Spelling of names are from that period. Inflated distances were being charged between Khandwa and Hingoli, so I have taken actual distances.

Km
0Delhi Jn
5Delhi Serai Rohilla
31Gurgaon
83RewariNR ends
185Nim-Ka-Thana
232Ringas
298Phulera
378Ajmer
402Nasirabad
567Chittaurgarh
620Nimach
753Ratlam
872Indore
893Mhow
1011KhandwaWR ends
1175Akola
1314Hingoli
1394PurnaCR ends
1535Nizamabad
1696Secunderabad
1704Kacheguda
1809Mahbubnagar
1940Kurnool Town
1993Dronachellam
2049GuntakalSCR ends
2117Anantapur
2151Dharmavaram
2296Madanapalle Road
2379Pakala
2409Chittoor
2452Katpadi
2462Vellore Cantt
2545Tiruvannamalai
2613Villupuram
2716Chengalpattu
2747Tambaram
2772Madras EgmoreSR

Perhaps someone can look at the timetables of that period and see the timings, and then arrive at a timetable for the proposed Delhi-Madras MG Express.

It would pass through DL, HR, RJ, MP, MH, AP and TN. (TG did not exist then).

From the timetables of that period, this trip should have been possible with changes at Ajmer, Secunderabad, Pakala and Villupuram. But there may have been long waiting times at these places.

Suggested trains: Delhi-Ahmedabad JJ Express, Ajmer-Kacheguda Passenger, SC-Tirupati Venkatadri Express up to Pakala, various passenger trains to Villupuram, various express trains to Madras Egmore.

The train with the longest run on this route was the Ajmer/Kacheguda Passenger with 1326 km.

Appendix: North to South on Metre Gauge.

At that time, Jammu Tawi was the northern-most station, but the northern-most MG station was Kot Kapura.

Similarly, Trivandrum Central was on BG since early 1976 and was the southern-most station. This was about 2 km south of Tiruchendur’s parallel of latitude. That was the southern-most MG station.

We now look at the “Northern Extension” from Rewari to Kot Kapura:

Km
0Rewari
83Bhiwani
143Hisar
225Sirsa
300Bhatinda
343Kot Kapura

And the “Southern Extension” from Villupuram to Tiruchendur:

Km
0Villupuram
55Vriddhachalam
109Ariyalur
178Tiruchchirapalli
271Dindigul
333Madurai
376Virudunagar
461Maniyachi
490Tirunelveli
552Tiruchendur

So our fictional North-South MG Express would run from Kot Kapura to Tiruchendur via Rewari and Villupuram. We can see from the above distance tables that it would come to be

2782-83+343-159+552 = 3435 Km

Coming soon: West to East by Metre Gauge in 1976 (Okha to Lekhapani)

Where English is the official language of a state

In railway station signboards in India, the normal practice is to have the state language at the top, followed by Hindi (unless it is the state language), followed by English.

(However, in Pakistan Urdu is always at the top even when the state language is different (as in Sind and Khyber-Pakhtunwa).

There are some states where the script of the state language is Roman script, even if the state language is not English.

Arunachal Pradesh:

This seems to prove that the station is in Arunachal and not Assam. And the present signs all say “Bhaluk Pong” instead of a single word.

Also:

Note that according to the convention mentioned above, Naharlagun should have had the English script at the top.

Now to Meghalaya:

This is the only station presently open in Meghalaya. It is adjacent to Nolbari:

You can see that this is in Assam.

Now to Mizoram. This is the only station presently open:

There are a few stations in Nagaland. the best known is:

Also in Nagaland:

There are or were other stations in Nagaland. Naginimora was closed long ago. Tuli did have the branch from Amguri converted to BG, but there are no passenger services.

Tripura has Bengali, and Manipur has something else in Meitei script.

The first (?) railway in Arunachal Pradesh

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.

The first major station:

And the pretender:

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.

How many railway stations in India?

This is a question which could not be answered easily. A rough estimate some years ago would have been 7000-8000. Finally we have a more accurate answer.

This appears in a document called “National Rail Plan”-Draft Final Report dated 2000. On page 91 we have this:

Depending on how you count, the number could be anything from 7349 onwards.

Braking trains on steep gradients

Normally, diesel and electric locomotives of today have methods of braking while going downhill.

In the days of steam, other methods were used. In the Indian subcontinent have the heavily trafficked ghat sections to the south-east and north-east of Mumbai. These were electrified in the mid-1920s.

Here is a picture of a downhill goods train on one of these routes before electrification:

Here it is mentioned that there are three “special weighted brake vans” after the two locos to comply with regulations. Perhaps the idea was to have higher adhesion on the tracks to prevent them from moving too quickly on the downgrade.

This line had a maximum gradient of 1 in 37. This picture seems to be taken from a catch siding.

Elsewhere in undivided India, there was a BG line with even steeper gradients of 1 in 25, on the line leading up the Bolan Pass to Quetta and beyond. Here, the regulations specified of having “skeleton” brake vans of low tare weight and no cargo which were added to downwards goods trains to provide extra braking power but with less weight than regular brake vans.

Here is an example of these wagons, taken from a video from Pakistan shot in 1982:

This was supposed to be at a place between Quetta and Bostan. The gradients are not so severe here, but these must have been destined for a goods train going down the Bolan.

Where passenger trains do not run-2

(Added a few more based on inputs by Mr Ganesh Iyer and others).

Now we look at goods-only lines which connect ports.

The line from Obulavaripalli to Krishnapatnam port has been covered here: https://abn397.wordpress.com/2020/01/09/the-new-line-to-krishnapatnam-port/

Bhadrak-Dhamra port:

There must be some crossing stations, but they are not listed.

Ennore -Ennore port:

Chennai Harbour (HOM) does not seem to have a connection to other stations in the area.

Karaikal Port:

Note that this station is not the same as Karaikal (KIK).

Visakhapatnam Port:

Older timetables show local trains running from Waltair (present VSKP) to Vizagapatnam Town and then Vizagapatnam Port.

Gandhidham-Kandla:

This had limited passenger services in the past when MG lines were still there. And even when NG lines of the Cutch State Railway served this area.

Next door, we have the ultramodern port at Mundra:

Adipur-Mundra:

Even a separate station for the airport.

Navlakhi:

This had passenger services in the past. Long ago there were ferries between Navlakhi and Kandla.

Other port lines such as Hadmatiya-Jodiya, Jamnagar-Bedi and Khambaliya-Salaiya have been closed for a long time when they were still MG. Presumably they were not felt to be worth coverting to BG in the 1970s.

A BG line still exists from Jamnagar to Windmill which may be extended to Bedi port.

Kochi Harbour Terminus:

This was a busy passenger section in the past, but the conversion of the Ernakulam-TVC line in 1975 spelt the start of this station’s decline as a passenger station. Perhaps the last important express to go there was the 41/42 Cochin Express which continued till the late 80s (and was then extended to Alleppey).

Problems connected with electrification of the bridge after ERS played a part. A recent attempt to run a DMU between ERS and CHTS in late 2018 was deemed a failure-partly because of the long closures of LC gates. Goods services continued with diesel traction, but the original port lost much of its importance with the commissioning of the container terminal at Vallarpadam.

Vallarpadam:

This is a new line built which branches off from Idapalli, before ERN.

Panamburu (New Mangalore port):

This line was built around 1970 and could be said to be the first step of the Konkan Railway from the southern end. The proper KR started from Thokur.

Marmagao:

MRH had passenger trains in timetables of the mid-60s, though the important trains terminated at VSG.

Finally to Gujarat again:

Sikka:

This branch had passenger trains until the 80s.

Pipavav:

Passenger trains still run up to Rajula City.

JNPT (near Mumbai):

There is no station named Nhava Sheva in RBS.

No station named Hazira either. There is a line accessible from Gothangam which reaches the Kribhco factory near Hazira. Presumably the line to the port is not complete.

We should remember that Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai ports have their own railway systems which are not part of any zonal railway. Details do not seem to be given in RBS. Part of the KPT’s lines became part of the Kolkata Circular Railway.

However the lines to Mundra and Pipavav are part of WR.

Where passenger trains do not run-1

The Indian Railways have a number of routes which have goods traffic but little or no passenger traffic. Here are the route details for some of them. This is not supposed to be comprehensive. Details of port lines will be given in a subsequent article.

Ranippettai

Was in timetables earlier, now being revived for goods.

Remember that Walajah Road was the first terminus for trains starting from Madras. It was called Arcot at that time.

Bengdubi:

For military traffic.

Gadchandur:

Manikgarh is just south of Balharshah. This route does not seem to have had any passenger trains. It is primarily for cement traffic.

Ghoradongri:

This siding connecting Sarni town has existed for a long time. However, the distance is not mentioned here.

Ghugus:

The Tadali-Ghugus section was listed in timetables of the 1970s. Now it only has goods services. There was/is a cement factory at Ghugus.

Husainiwala:

This was part of the Ferozepore-Lahore route in the past. Nowadays it has DMU services once a year where pilgrims come to commemorate the sacrifices of Bhagat Singh and others.

Motumari-Jaggayapeta-Vishnupuram:

This was opened in the 80s to connect a cement plant at Jaggayapeta. It was later extended to Vishnupuram on the Nadikude-Bibinagar section. This could provide a connection with the North-South route with a point on the latter. So far, no passenger train has run here. This is apparently because low MPS on part of this route.

Palasthali:

Was earlier in the timetable.

Panipat Refinery:

Bhauli has not had passenger service.

Majri-Rajur:

Majri-Rajur was earlier in the timetable. Passenger trains still run from Majri to Wani and then to Pimpalkhuti and Adilabad. And coal trains still run from Rajur colliery.

Tirap siding:

Better known as the eastern-most point served by IR. It is a coal loading point. The closed Lekhapani station is a few km further east on an unconverted MG line.

Tuli:

Tuli is in Nagaland. The Amguri-Tuli section was earlier in the timetable with passenger services.

Butibori-Umred:

Was constructed long ago when Umred was on the Nagpur-Nagbhir NG line. Umred Colliery is a few km short of Umred station. So far no passenger trains have run here. This extension could open up another route for trains from Nagpur towards the south-east.

Ranajitpura:

For iron ore traffic. Ranajitpura station is located in the town of Donnamalai Township. This has never had passenger trains. Tornagallu is the site of the Vijayanagar airport.

Swamihalli:

Also for iron ore traffic. Vyasa Colony is the replacement for the closed Gunda Road junction which had an unsatisfactory location for BG traffic. Swamihalli was an MG terminus earlier.

Karampada:

Another iron ore line. The section beyond Karampada to Kiriburu and Meghataburu is closed.

The station Rakshi serves a place commonly spelt as Roxy.

An unofficial passenger service has sometimes operated here with a coach attached to a goods train. Even otherwise, local people are known to travel on the goods trains.

Daitari:

Not listed in the timetable. A number of steel plants were to come up near Daitari.

Tiger Hill:

Colliery line in Chhattisgarh.

If one studies the old maps of the Dhanbad coalfields area, you can see many routes where passenger trains have not run or a long time (or never). Jharia is one station which is unlikely to see any restoration of traffic.

There are a few short routes which are not covered here. In most cases they are built to connect mines or heavy industries.

NTPC runs a few long lines with intermediate stations, though they are not part of IR.

The lines connecting ports will be covered in part 2.

The line to Aizawl

There have been some advertisements regarding various rail mega projects which will link the remotest borders by rail.

Here we look at one such project which may be completed relatively quickly.

The present railhead for Aizawl (and the whole of Mizoram) is Bhairabi, on a branch from Katakhai Jn which is between Badarpur junction and Silchar.

The line is to extend 50.5 km to Sairang, which is about 21 km short of the centre of Aizawl.

Here is the list of stations according to the RBS tables:

The link to the “rest of India” is Badarpur, so we also give the stations between Badarpur and Bhairabi.:

In 1947, the terminus was at Lalaghat near the present station of Lalabazar.

Note the district HQ of Hailakandi. This was part of Sylhet district which, along with Karimganj sub-division, remained in India while the rest of the district went to East Pakistan.

Let us see if there will be an Aizawl Rajdhani.

You can trace the path of the new line from Bhairabi on this map:

https://www.google.co.in/maps/place/Bairabi,+Mizoram/@24.1820813,92.5436294,14z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x374e03e98bcd8d27:0xaabba20e26eb562!8m2!3d24.1853491!4d92.5371264

Welcome to Kevadiya

The route from Vadodara is given below:

Note that a narrow gauge line existed from Vishvamitri (VS) in the past. The section between VS to Dabhoi was converted to broad gauge some years ago. The less important narrow gauge branch to Chandod was later converted but did not seem to have any BG passenger service until now.

More recently, with the advent of the Statue of Unity it was decided to extend the broad gauge line a further 32 km to the dam township called Kevadiya Colony. This station was finally called Kevadiya. Electrification was also expedited from Dabhoi.

Here you can get the list of trains serving Kevadiya:

https://erail.in/trains-between-stations/kevadiya-KDCY/vadodara-jn-BRC

and

https://erail.in/trains-between-stations/vadodara-jn-BRC/kevadiya-KDCY

There has been some talk of this line (and indeed) the Statue of Unity being an unnecessary expenditure which may not be of much use to the nation. There are various arguments for and against this.

The long-distance trains will provide additional connectivity from some cities (especially Chennai) towards Surat and Vadodara where there may be a need for more capacity. And additional services from Ahmedabad and Mumbai towards these cities.

The Jan Shatabdi between Ahmedabad to Kevadiya will include Vistadome coaches, for what they are worth.