Views of the Indian Railways in 1944

Some collections on the net include pictures taken by US servicemen serving in India during World War 2. A few samples:

Thadi (very old)

This is between Visakhapatnam (then Waltair) and Rajahmundry. It now looks like this:

Thadi (new)

Like most of the Golden Quad, the route is now double-tracked and electrified. This station was then on the Madras & Southern Mahratta Railway, then Southern Railway and now the South Central Railway.

Another one from the East Coast. Probably this city is more well known because of its cricket connection:

Vizianagaram ( very old)

Note the presence of 5 languages including Urdu and Telugu. It was then part of the Madras Presidency which extended up to Chatrapur in present-day Odisha. This station was then on the Bengal Nagpur Railway, later the Eastern Railway for a short time, then South Eastern and finally the East Coast Railway.

Here is another picture some years later (maybe the 1970s):

Vizianagaram (old)

By now it was part of Andhra Pradesh. Someone seems to think it was on the South Central Railway, but it never was. It still had Odiya due to its closeness to the state border. This is what it looks like today:

Vizianagaram

By now it strictly follows the 3-language format with the local language at the top, followed by Hindi and English. However, a number of stations close to the state borders still have signs in the language of the neighboring state. Examples can be found in Jharkhand (Bengali), Kerala/Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka/Telangana among others.

This one also dates from 1944 and is better known:

Sealdah 1944

This is obviously Sealdah as in those days all destinations to the east of the Hooghly were covered by the Sealdah-based Eastern Bengal Railway. At that time it had been merged with the Assam Bengal Railway to form the Bengal & Assam Railway, which itself ceased to exist at partition. However, East Pakistan used the title of Eastern Bengal Railway for all lines in its territory until 1961. The remnants lying in India essentially became the Sealdah Division of the East Indian Railway and then the Eastern Railway.

Most trains from Calcutta to the East ran via the Ranaghat-Darsana route which is still used by the Maitri Express. The border station of Gede did not exist then.

Trains going to the Jessore and Khulna side went via Bongaon-Benapol. The border station of Petrapol came up later.

I am trying to reconcile these timings with a Bradshaw of 1943 and will write more about the routes of these trains later. For the Darjeeling Mail route, see here

The Khulna route is described here

Travels through the unseen railways of Kolkata

The Kolkata circular railway is one of the least known suburban rail systems of the country. It has little coverage in timetables and elsewhere. It was hastily patched together from existing suburban lines, disused dock lines and freight lines besides a new link to the airport which is little used. To begin with, here is a 2010 map which may give the general orientation:

Kolkata Rail (ER Suburban)

If you were to start your journey at Ballygunge and proceeded west (anticlockwise), this is what it would look like. Note the comments along each station (including a few PJs and historical notes):

Save1

No Sealdah? There is a reason.

Capture3

For variety, you can divert from the “circle” at Dum Dum and travel on the still more obscure line to the airport:

airport line

Here are some pictures along the route, taken on 8 Apr 2015:

20150408_113320

The starting point of Ballygunge. Note the crow perched on the loudspeaker.

20150408_122115

While changing trains at Majerhat.

20150408_131114

Along the Hooghly.

20150408_124955

Further along the Hooghly. Below there are various stations along the way:

20150408_123957 20150408_124310 20150408_125039 20150408_125407 20150408_125745 20150408_131618

Tala is where many of the rakes for trains from Kolkata Terminus are stabled.

20150408_131920

(This is at Kolkata terminus, where the trip to Bangladesh begins.)

20150408_134958 20150408_135524

A few short videos along the way can be seen here: Apart from the trip along the Hooghly we also cover the large rust belt towards the airport.

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLpnX2Gw1sU-H9aMWhNlnP1rv3wVvKcBCW

Several longer clips of this route by others can be found on Youtube.

Jessore Road has its place in history with this piece of poetry by American poet Allen Ginsberg written during the tragic events of 1971, though I suppose he was referring to a place in Bangladesh rather than this suburb of Kolkata:

http://www.everyday-beat.org/ginsberg/poems/jessore.txt

Hope that has inspired you to travel along the little known byways of your city.