Kenneth Anderson and the railways-4

Concluding this set of posts with some more videos and pictures of this route, with emphasis on the Dorabavi viaduct and its remnants. The remnants can be seen near the Bogada tunnel in the direction of Chelama (or Nandyal).

First, the mileage details from a current railway website:

New stations at Nandipalli and Kistamsettipalli have come up in recent years.

Here we have a rather detailed video which covers the Nandyal-Giddalur section, which gives a reasonable view of the forests. It does show all the stations listed above.

One thing this vlogger missed was the remains of the Dorabavi viaduct, which can be seen on the other side of the track.

Doubling of the track between Nandyal and Giddalur is expected to start in 2022 and may take a few years.

Basic details of the viaduct from a website of the railways:

Here a guide takes you around the remains of the viaduct (Commentary in Telugu with English subtitles. Among other things, you get a good view of the present line from a height and can see a long goods train passing).

There are, of course, a wide variety of blogposts and videos covering the Nallamalla region along the rail line. In this and earlier posts I have included some which I felt were more useful.

Kenneth Anderson and the railways-3

Here we concentrate on the information about the railway stations on this route.

In 1935, distances are given in miles:

1935MilesMiles from

In 1976, the route is still metre gauge but distances are in kilometres:

1976KmKm from
This matches the miles from 1935.

After conversion to BG, these are the distances in kilometres:

2021KmKm from
* At new location

Note that Basavapuram and Bogara stations were not listed in the timetables in 1935 and later.

Comparing 1976 and 2021:

Distance from Nandyal to Gazulapalli practically same. (2021 data is more accurate).

Distance from Gazulapalli to Chelama* is 10.8 km vs 18 km to old Chelama.

Distance from Chelama* to Diguvametta is 16.7 km vs 25 km from Old Chelama

Distance from Diguvametta to Giddalur is 11.5 km is practically the same.

Thus, in the entire Nandyal-Giddalur section there is a saving of about 14.4 km.

Many of the curves have been removed.

The line is BG and electrified, but not doubled yet.

A sketch of the new and old alignments (based on the Great Indian Railway Atlas, 2015):

I have tried to fit in the most relevant items.

Dorabavi viaduct (about 1 km) between Chelama (old) and Bogara, near the latter.

Bogada tunnel on BG, about 1.6 km long, between Chelama (new) and Diguvametta.

Chelama tunnel on BG , about 0.28 km long, a little west of Chelama (new).

The old and new alignments diverge west of Gazulapalli, and east of Diguvametta. However, the pillars of the Dorabavi viaduct can be seen to the north just west of the Bogada tunnel on the BG line.

Here is a video taken from the brake van of a west-bound goods train starting from a point near Diguvametta, passing through the Bogada tunnel, Chelama (new) station and the shorter Chelama tunnel. It ends short of Gazulapalli. From around 4.15 to 4.50 (just after the tunnel) you can see the pillars of the viaduct. Also note the musical accompaniment.

Enjoy this:

Will wrap up with some more details in the next instalment.

Where no trains run now (West Bengal)

Pictures of stations in West Bengal state where no trains run today and are unlikely to run in future.

Kolkata area:

Howrah Maidan, once the terminus for the Martin light railways

Moving away from Kolkata, we have these from the Martin lines:

You can just make out Panpur.

From the NG line from Krishnanagar to Nabadwip Ghat.

This is supposed to be replaced by a BG line on a different alignment, which will cross the Bhagirathi river to Nabadwip Dham.

This neighboring station is also likely to be closed:

Coming to North Bengal, this border station was replaced by New Gitaldaha soon after partition:

Fun and games with official languages in India

Let us first be clear about the official languages in different states of India.

Refer to the first two tables in this article:

Our first stop is in Punjab, where Punjabi is the official language. Signboards in railway stations are expected to be in English, Hindi as well as the state’s official language if it is not English or Hindi.

We see that “Chhavni” is the word for “Cantonment” in Hindi and Punjabi, although some places use Cantt in these languages.

Now to Uttarakhand, where the official languages are Hindi and Sanskrit. Earlier Urdu was an official language when UK was part of UP. See the old and new signs here:


(New). Note the addition and subtraction of languages.

In UP, the official languages are Hindi and Urdu (but not Sanskrit). Now see some newly painted signs:

This is the old sign for Manduadih, a suburb of Varanasi. Recently it was renamed:

Note that both Sanskrit and Urdu are here.

The main station in Varanasi is:

They haven’t thought of adding Sanskrit here. Surely this station is more deserving than Manduadih, which most people outside this area have never heard of.

One more example of old and new:


New. It is not to be confused with the existing Ayodhya:

Here is another city in UP:

Now, what will strike you is that “Chhavni” is the standard word for “Cantonment” in Hindi-speaking states and neighboring states.

Why does the Hindi inscription at Ayodhya Cantt have “Cantt” and the Sanskrit inscription “Chhavni”? Isn’t there any suitable word in Sanskrit?

Finally we visit a few more stations elsewhere in India:

In Southern India, Hindi script could have Chhavni or Cantonment.

And in Bengal and Bangladesh, “Cantonment” is used in Hindi as well as Bengali:

The last one is Chattogram Cantonment.

Stop trying to look for consistency in languages used and in nomenclature. There isn’t any.

More notes from Jammu and Kashmir

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.

The Bihta railway disaster of 1937

This accident on July 17, 1937 was probably the worst railway accident in India until then. Even if it did not have the highest death toll among accidents prior to that, it certainly attracted the most publicity.

This was the derailment of the 18 Up Punjab Express while approaching Bihta station on the Mughal Sarai-Patna section.

The preceding station at that time was Koelwar. Bihta is about 27 km west of Patna and 17 km west of Danapur.

Initial reports mentioned sabotage as a possibility. However, the truth was more complicated than that.

This picture appears in “Indian Broad Gauge Steam Remembered” by LG Marshall (2009). The caption summarizes the findings of the numerous inquiries into the accident.

You can see that the loco is XB 1916 of the EIR (East Indian Railway).

The reports do not clearly mention where the Punjab Express was coming from, except that it was going from Mughal Sarai to Howrah. In the 1935 Bradshaw its route was shown as being from Lahore via Saharanpur and Lucknow.

The “guilty” loco was based at Jhajha shed and was normally used for express trains from there to Mughal Sarai and back.

Another picture from a magazine of that period (Click to enlarge):

The Inspectorate report on the accident is not available on the net. Some other material such as the judicial inquiry report and the more comprehensive Pacific Locomotive Enquiry report were available some time ago, but not now.

You can search on Google, but do not be misled by an article by Ken Staynor which confuses this with another accident which had occurred in the same general area (east of Patna) in 1934. For more on that accident, see this:

Travels along the railways in Jammu

It is common to find odd things in the inscriptions on signboards at railway stations in India. The traditional rule is to have three languages-the state’s language at the top, Hindi second and English third. Examples from southern and eastern India:

Now, it becomes complicated when a state has more than one official language. UP and Bihar have Hindi and Urdu, Assam has Bengali in some districts, and so on. This is summarised here:

The Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir has official languages Kashmiri, Dogri, Hindi, Urdu and English. Kashmiri was added only in 2020. Up till then stations in this state/UT had inscriptions in Urdu, Hindi and English. Dogri has started appearing in the Jammu region now. Sometimes there is only Dogri in addition to English and Hindi, or only Urdu, or sometimes both.

Jammu Tawi:

Here we see signs with Urdu or Dogri but not both.

Kathua, close to the Punjab border has signs with only Urdu and with Dogri and Urdu.

Samba, associated with a spy scandal and Gabbar Singh has Dogri and Urdu

Similarly for Vijaypur Jammu:

So there does not seem to be any clear policy as to which languages are to be considered local languages in the Jammu region.

West to East by Metre Gauge in 1976

In this post

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.

616Abu Road 
781Marwar Jn 
1272AchhneraEnd of WR 
1358Hathras Road 
1660Kanpur Central 
2185Chhapra Jn 
2511KatiharEnd of NER 
2713Siliguri Jn 
2761New Mal 
2876Alipurduar Jn
2985New Bongaigaon

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.

0Delhi Jn
5Delhi Serai Rohilla
83RewariNR ends
1011KhandwaWR ends
1394PurnaCR ends
1940Kurnool Town
2049GuntakalSCR ends
2296Madanapalle Road
2462Vellore Cantt
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:

343Kot Kapura

And the “Southern Extension” from Villupuram to Tiruchendur:


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.


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.