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.

India’s Far West

As of today, it is well known that the western-most railway station in India is Varvala (long 68.97E) and the western-most terminus is Okha (69.07E)

The western-most junction was thought to be Kanalus (69.90E) but it is actually Wansjaliya (69.86E), which means about 4 km between the lines of longitude.

However, the western-most junction in the past was Khambaliya, which had a branch to the port of Salaya until the 1970s. Its longitude is 69.66E

The railway line up to Naliya (68.84E) has been closed for conversion to broad gauge for several years. This work is now progressing from Bhuj and may be completed in 2021. It is proposed to extend this line to Vayor (68.69E) which is north-west of Naliya.

So Varvala and Okha will lose their titles when the trains start running to Naliya.

The western-most airport with regular commercial flights is Bhuj (69.21E). While Bhuj has an IAF base, the military airport furthest west is the Naliya air base (near Naliya Cantt station) which is at 68.87E. It is known that the IAF has a helipad at Koteshwar on the coast at 68.53E. Naliya has fighter aircraft, and their Mig-21s shot down a Pakistani recconaissance aircraft close to the border in 1999.

Bhuj airport’s competitor is Porbandar at 69.64E. It includes enclaves of the Navy as well as the Coast Guard who also fly from there.

In due course the railway may reach Koteshwar. That is quite close to the western-most point of India, which is not as ill-defined as the northern-most point. This point on the mainland is 68.48E, while the western-most village appears to be Guhar Moti at 68.49E

You can amuse yourself with finding these places on this map link:

https://www.google.co.in/maps/place/Kutch,+Gujarat/@22.9416315,69.7547649,9z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x39511e0750db4489:0x2049bf8ec25dea88!8m2!3d23.7337326!4d

Military rule over the Indian Railways

There are many stations named “Cantonment” and “Fort” and even Barrackpore. Here we look at military personnel.

Start at the bottom with “Sepoydhura”, a halt station north of Kurseong on the Darjeeling line. It was closed long ago. Next in the hierarchy is

(Just west of Allahabad on the main line).

Moving up the hierarchy we come to

(North-east of Gorakhpur).

Still further up:

(Near Gonda, yet again in Uttar Pradesh).

Now we are stuck. There is a locality in Kanpur called Generalganj which is fairly close to CNB, but does not have a station. And Senapati district in Manipur, far from any railway.

The term “Chhatrapati” is “protector”, strictly speaking. But that title was given to Shivaji who was a successful military leader.

Maharashtra comes to the rescue with the renamed Bombay VT:

There are numerous smaller places named after war heroes, often from the distant past. And those named after British officials, some of whom were from the military.

One example is from the mid-19th century, commemorating Major Sleeman who led the operations against the Thugs of central India:

This is between Jabalpur and Katni in MP.

A relatively newer one is

which is between Jodhpur and Jaisalmer. It is named after Major Shaitan Singh, Param Vir Chakra awardee from the 1962 war. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shaitan_Singh

There must be a few others from the post-independence era which I missed out.

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.