Another train to Nepal

A new line for goods services between India and Nepal has been opened in June 2023. It connects Forbesganj with a point in Nepal close to the border.

Note that the Nepal Custom Yard comes under the Nepal Railways.

This line takes off from the Forbesganj-Jogbani section at Bathnaha.

The line terminates at a point near Biratnagar, which is said to be the 6th largest city in Nepal and a transport hub.

However, there does not seem to be much prospect of passenger trains running here. The rails have not been built up to Biratnagar. There seems to be a lack of interest from both countries.

Oddities-the northern-most metre gauge station in India.

(Thanks to Amar Kalia for a major correction.)

Copyrights of pictures are those of the respective photographers.

The first long run at this position was Jhelum (which Indians know better as PM IK Gujral’s birthplace). Jhelum was the terminus of an MG line from Lahore from September 1873. This 172-km section was converted to broad gauge soon after (October 1878).

From the NWR, the action now shifted to the lines which became part of the BBCIR and later NR. A MG line was built from Sirsa to Ferozepur Cantt (now spelt Firozpur Cantt) via Bathinda and Kot Kapura . It was opened on 01-10-1884. Thus Ferozepur Cantt became the northern-most MG station. An MG line from Kot Kapura to Fazilka was also built and opened on 01-01-1885

After a few years it was decided to make the connection to FZR broad gauge (probably because all the lines around it were broad gauge). By 15-06-1899 we had

i) Kot Kapura to FZR converted to BG

ii) Kot Kapura to Fazilka remained MG.

iii) The Bathinda-Kot Kapura section now had a BG line along with the existing MG line.

This meant that Kot Kapura was now the northern-most MG station in undivided India. It held this title for over a century.

This map extract should make the geography clear:

Note the relative positions of Bathinda, Kot Kapura , Fazilka and Firozpur Cantt.

This map is from “The Great Indian Railway Atlas”, 2022 edition.

This route to Firozpur Cantt was used by the famous Punjab Mail from Mumbai and Delhi.

The time came (in the 2000s) to convert most lines in India to broad gauge. The MG line from Bathinda to Kot Kapura and Fazilka was converted to broad gauge leaving no metre gauge lines in Punjab. For a while the northern-most MG station seems to have been Vrindavan, but the Mathura-Vrindavan line has now closed for conversion to BG.

At the time of writing in June 2023, the northern-most functioning metre gauge station seems to be Dudwa in the Terai region of Uttar Pradesh. Other nearby MG stations include Mailani, Nanpara and Tikunia.

The map for this region:

Some of the MG lines shown here will be converted, and others may be closed down. The dense forests and animal life are factors which may affect the longevity of these lines.

We also take a quick look at the northern-most MG station in Gujarat, which is further south than Dudwa. In this case all the adjoining MG lines are likely to be converted in the next few years.

Amreli in the Saurashtra region of Gujarat. The Bhuj-Naliya section is north of this, but has not seen trains for over a decade. The other MG lines near Amreli have been closed or converted. They are likely to be converted to broad gauge soon.

Once the MG lines in UP and Gujarat are converted, the title will pass to Udagamandalam in the far south. This line is very unlikely to be converted to broad gauge, so the title will remain with it.

The story behind Port Albert Victor

The Western Railway had many obscure metre gauge and narrow gauge lines in Gujarat. Many have now been closed or converted to broad gauge. One of the more obscure ones was Victor on the southern coast of Saurashtra. This is what appeared in the 1975 timetables

The two terminals shown here are Rajula City and Victor, connected to the junctions Rajula Jn and Dungar respectively. Rajula City had three daily pairs of trains, while Victor has one pair of trains on 4 days of the week.

Going back to 1944:

Here we see the station listed as Port Albert Victor. It has a train only on two days of the week. At least we now have a clue as to its history. It can also be seen that the line to this terminal was opened in 1928.

But who was Albert Victor? You would have heard of Queen Victoria, but there was no British monarch called Victor. Maybe we have to go down the ladder a bit.

Prince Albert Victor was born in 1864. He was the eldest son of the future King Edward VII, who was then heir to the throne. Queen Victoria was the ruler, and would continue to be on the throne until 1901.

A younger brother (who later became King George V) was born in 1865.

Prince Albert Victor suffered from poor health in his childhood and did not seem to have done anything worth noting.

In 1889, he was sent to tour India for several months from October 1889 to May 1890. Wikipedia sums this up:

“The foreign press suggested that Albert Victor was sent on a seven-month tour of British India from October 1889 to avoid the gossip which swept London society in the wake of the scandal.[54] This is not true;[55] the trip had actually been planned since the spring.[56] Travelling via AthensPort SaidCairo and Aden, Albert Victor arrived in Bombay on 9 November 1889.[57] He was entertained sumptuously in Hyderabad by the Nizam,[58] and elsewhere by many other maharajahs.[59] In Bangalore he laid the foundation stone of the Glass House at the Lalbagh Botanical Gardens on 30 November 1889. He spent Christmas at Mandalay and the New Year at Calcutta. Most of the extensive travelling was done by train,[60] although elephants were ridden as part of ceremonies.[61] In the style of the time, a great many animals were shot for sport.[62]

Presumably, the port in Gujarat was named after him during or soon after his tour.

However, he died of typhoid in 1892, when his grandmother Victoria was still the ruler and his father was still the heir apparent. His father ruled as King Edward VII from 1901 to 1910, while King George V (born in 1865) ruled from 1910 to 1936.

However, if Prince Albert Victor had lived beyond 1910 the entire line of succession would have changed. Perhaps the persons now known as Queen Elizabeth II and King Charles III would not have become monarchs.

During George V’s rule the rail link from Dungar to Port Albert Victor was opened in 1928. As we have seen, it did not seem to generate much passenger traffic. Today the line appears to have been abandoned.

Meanwhile, a new port came up at Pipavav to the south of Rajula City. This is one of the success stories of Indian ports today. It is unclear if Victor port will be revived.

More about his visit to India:

More junctions which are not attached to stations

Note: Pictures are copyright of the respective photographers.

We start with this map extract of Ernakulam Jn and its surroundings. Note C cabin at the top left and D cabin at the top right. Both are junctions without any nearby stations. C cabin is in between Ernakulam Town and Junction, and D cabin is between Junction and Tripunittara on the east.

I could not locate pictures of these cabins.

Next there are a few examples from the Kolkata area.

Baltikuri near Howrah:

This has the code BALT. A Balt is a native of the Baltic republics such as Estonia.

Near Dankuni we have CC Link East Cabin and CC Link Cabin West. CC stands for Calcutta Chord.

In North Bengal, there is the curiously-named Y-Leg Connector near Domohani and New Domohani stations.

It can be seen on this map:

Here we have two lines crossing at almost 90-degree angles. There was no interconnection between these lines. When an interconnection was made, it joined the westward line at the Y-Leg Connection Cabin. This is what it looks like:

along with

Near Hubballi, we have already seen Hubballi South as a station where no passenger train stops. There is also Hubballi East Cabin:

And even Hubballi Bypass East Cabin:

IR’s junctions which are not stations

There are a few hundred junctions among the 8000-odd stations on the Indian railways. There are some prominent junctions which do not have a passenger station. Some may have a passenger station where no train stops regularly.

Here are some of the better-known ones:

Vyasarpadi, near Chennai Central;

There is a nearby station called Vyasarpadi Jiva.

Nethravathi, near Mangaluru. It is, naturally, near the Nethravathi river.

This picture is taken while travelling north. The left branch goes to the terminus of Mangaluru Central, the right branch goes to Manguluru Junction and beyond.

Kankuragachi Road, near Sealdah:

Magnesite, near Salem:

For a short time a passenger train stopped here.

Pagidipalli, near Hyderabad:

Back to the Chennai area: Melpakkam near Arakkonam:

This is also called Arakkonam west cabin.

Hubballi South which does have a station but without any passenger service:

Hindon Cabin near Saharanpur in UP.

This is near the WAG-12B maintenance centre along with a regular ELS at Khanalampura.

Where trains do not run-the Nepal border

The North Eastern Railway had a number of short branch lines serving the UP-Nepal and Bihar-Nepal borders. Most of them have closed now, presumably due to insufficient traffic.Here are a few closed stations which can still be seen:

From UP:

Katarniyan Ghat, in the Dudwa area.

Jarwa, on a branch from the Gonda-Gorakhpur loop.

From Bihar:

Bhikhnathori, on a branch from Narkatiaganj.

Active border stations include Tanakpur, Nautanwa, Raxaul, Jaynagar and Jogbani. Laukaha Bazar awaits completion of gauge conversion. Nepalganj Road still continues with limited trains.

Where trains do not run-Maharashtra

Here, we look at some stations where trains are not likely to run for several years while their gauge is converted from NG to BG:

Jamner, on the branch from Pachora:

Arvi, on the branch from Pulgaon:

Achalpur, on the northbound branch from Murtazapur:

Yavatmal, on the southbound branch from Murtazapur:

On the same line there is Darwha Moti Bagh, which was a junction up to the 1930s:

The last three lines mentioned above are loosely referred to as the Shakuntala Railway. However, they were duly listed in the timetables of the Central Railway (and the GIPR before that) and do not seem to have had any special arrangements.

Some stations on the Khandwa-Akola section may not be on the alignment after conversion to BG. These include Dhulghat and Wan Road:

Note the different styles of lettering for adjacent stations.

A few more abandoned sections can be seen elsewhere on IR. I will take up more of them. Meanwhile, you can see this:

Madras to Lucknow by Metre Gauge in 1976

We are now almost at the end of our look back of the long journeys which could theoretically have been made wholly by metre gauge in the past. Today we take up Madras to Lucknow.

Those who have followed this blog for a while would know that this involves going up the line to Delhi. At Phulera we deviate from the Ringas route and proceed to Jaipur and Bandikui. From there, we head east to Bharatpur, Achnera, Mathura and beyond.

Madras to Ahmedabad by Metre Gauge in 1976

The Navjivan Express started running in the late 1970s. It was the first train from South India to Gujarat. Until then the usual practice was to change at Bombay, and the interchange between CR and WR was puzzling to those travelling for the first time. However, it was theoretically possible to travel entirely by metre gauge between Madras and Ahmedabad. This beacame a little simpler with the opening of the Udaipur-Himatnagar line in the mid-1960s. Earlier the terminus was a relatively small station called Udaipur. This new line involved the construction of a larger station for Udaipur City, while the old Udaipur became Ranapratap Nagar.

This would be the MG route:

Today, there are numerous trains from the southern states to Ahmedabad and beyond.

Delhi to Trivandrum by Metre Gauge in 1970

This is probably the last instalment of MG routes from Delhi to the major cities in South India. Trivandrum came on BG in late 1975, so this time we imagine a journey in 1970. One could also imagine a link express from Quilon to Ernakulam.

This comes to 3249 km, which is just over 2000 miles. Probably it would take a week.

In 1970, TVC was indeed the southern-most station in India as its latitude was less than that of Tiruchendur, which remained on MG until 2000 or later.

Delhi to Mangalore by Metre Gauge in 1980

Our next long trip by metre gauge from North to South involves the Hassan-Mangalore line which was opened in 1979. So we use the route and station names as they were in timetables of the early 1980s. As before, we provide the present station names when they have changed significantly.

Compare the 2845 km with 2524 km by the present BG trains between Nizamuddin and MAQ by the Konkan route, which was not fully opened until the late 1990s. There would also be a nasty ghat section between Hassan and Mangalore.

Madras to Goa by Metre Gauge in 1962

Having seen how to get from Madras to Poona entirely by metre gauge, we now deviate slightly from Londa to give an all-MG and all-SR route from Madras to Vasco-da-Gama, the main station for Goa.

See this for Madras-Poona:

Note that this route, like the Madras-Poona route, lay entirely in SR in 1962.