Good neigbours

Examples of station signs with languages of neighbouring states.

Copyrights of the pictures belong to the respective photographers.

Raichur station-5 languages

Raichur in Karnataka and close to Telangana. Has Telugu apart from English, Hindi, Kannada and Urdu.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Nearby in Telangana there is Krishna. Has Kannada apart from English, Hindi, Telugu and Urdu.

kollengode-4

Kollengode, Kerala. Has Tamil apart from Malayalam.

Pollachi_junction_station_name_board

Pollachi, Tamil Nadu. Has Malayalam apart from Tamil.

Sini

Sini, near Jamshedpur in Jharkhand. Has Odiya and Bengali.

Finally, Pimpalkhuti in Maharashtra, close to Telangana.

pimpalkhuti

Another odd thing. Many stations in Maharashtra have separate inscriptions for Hindi and Marathi even if they are identical, but not here. A typical example is this one from Miraj where Hindi and Marathi inscriptions are identical:

Miraj

These are a few samples of good neighbourliness. Numerous other cases can be seen in other parts of India.

Tsunduru, Tsetse flies and Tsunamis.

You probably haven’t heard of Tsunduru. It has one claim to fame in that it is the only railway station in India which starts with a “Ts”. This is in Andhra Pradesh (or Seemandhra if you wish) and Telugu does not have any alphabet corresponding to “Ts”. It is actually Chundur in local records. Some Englishman may have wanted to make this place famous and may have been inspired by tsetse flies elsewhere in the Empire.

Tsunduru

Note the Hindi spelling which has no hint of a “ts” sound.

Tsunduru/Chundur’s moment of importance came in 1991 in inter-caste clashes which left several Dalits dead.

At one time the station was more important as it could call itself a junction, since a short line bypassing Tenali started from there. It seems to have closed in the 1970s.

Like many other small places, it has a website of its own:

http://www.tsunduru.org/

There are not many things which start with Ts. A better known one is the Tsetse fly of Africa which spreads sleeping sickness which is generally fatal unless treated. Most of what you need to know about them is here:

Tsetse

This is what they can do to you:

Sleeping Sickness

You also need to know how to pronounce their name properly:

Tsetse pronun

The only other commonly know word starting with Ts is Tsunami, which is of Japanese origin. There had not been major tsunamis for many years until December 26, 2004 which led to the deaths of approximately 230,000 persons, over half from Indonesia but with significant numbers from Sri Lanka, Thailand and India as well. Some fatalities were thousands of miles away in East Africa.

These details are well known. There is a good example of black humour of Sri Lankan origin relating to Mr T. Sunami of Indonesia. It is presumably untrue, but like elsewhere one is prepared to believe the worst when disaster strikes. This is from one of the original sources:

T. Sunami

A particularly nasty PJ, unless it was true.

A small town with a big attitude

Biggar is a small town with a population of a little over 2000. It lies in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, and is one of the few small towns in Western Canada which still have a passenger train service (only thrice a week in both directions, but you can still board the train directly to Vancouver or Toronto).

The citizens of every small town want their place to be famous. This they achieved with this slogan:

Biggar

As Wikipedia says: “The town is known for its slogan “New York is big, but this is Biggar.” It was created in 1914 by a survey crew who painted it onto a town sign as a drunken prank. According to The Biggar Museum and Gallery, the graffiti remained unchanged until 1954 when the slogan was officially adopted.”

This is what Biggar railway station looks like:

Biggar RS pic

It is indeed a heritage station, but is so dilapidated that passengers have to wait elsewhere. This is what the train operator Via Rail has to say about it:

Biggar RS

This implies it is an unstaffed station where you can check in your baggage only if you go to the baggage car yourself. And the trains stop only on request-perhaps you have to flag them down yourself.

Armchair travellers can see below the schedules for the “Canadian”, probably the longest passenger train journey in North America. Its only real rival from the US was the Sunset Limited which ran for a few years between Los Angeles and Miami. However, Hurricane Katrina saw it restored to its original eastern terminus at New Orleans. Amtrak presently considers the route east of New Orleans to be suspended indefinitely.

TV sched VT sched

So much for the place which is Biggar than New York. There are other odd places to visit including Jhumritilaiya and Timbuctoo in the days to come.

More on station names

Today we  return to this topic with this list of trivia compiled by Jim Fergusson, who has studied timetables of many countries. His site is

http://www.railwaystationlists.co.uk/

It will be of particular interest to those who study  the railways of South Asia (other than India). He has painstakingly put together lists of every station which has ever existed in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka and several other countries (but not India, probably because it is too complex). This is particularly useful for those interested in the railways of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka because they have not published timetables for public use for a few decades. Railfans in these countries do not seem to know why this is so. However, his station lists are a little out of date as they do not include lines built in recent years, such as the East-West link over the Bangabandhu bridge which has made through running possible between the two systems in Bangladesh for the first time. This was completed around 2002. He does include the northern lines in Sri Lanka as they appeared in the timetables prior to the civil war. A sizable part of the main lines to Jaffna and Talaimannar were disused from 1983 and they have been restored only in recent months, though they might be fully restored only by the end of 2015.

Pakistan has been a little more regular in publishing timetables although the system itself seems to be shrinking rapidly due to various reasons, mainly the shortage of locomotives. Of course, the timetables show the long-closed lines through the Khyber Pass to Landi Kotal and even the short-lived extension to Landi Khana which saw service only from 1926 to 1932, besides various narrow gauge lines which all closed in the early 1990s.

Many more peculiar names from around the world can be seen here:

Trivia

There is a Silly station in Belgium. The nearest we have in India is Silli, near Ranchi.

Silli

If someone tells you to go to Hell, there is this station in Norway you can go to. It is served by several trains a day from the larger city of Trondheim, 31 km away.

Hell1

Another view of the station is:

Hell2

As you would know, God is not likely to be here. This is Norwegian for “cargo handling”.

If you come by car, you would see this sign:

Hell road

Naturally, tourists are keen to have their pictures taken here. The only hellish things here are the prices, as Norway is one of the most expensive countries in Europe.

If you are familiar with the Devil, you would expect to find number 666 here. However, for that you have to move to the US and travel by  Amtrak service 666 which runs from Harrisburg to New York on Saturdays and Sundays:

Devil-USA

The Indian train  numbering system has been rationalized over the past few years. Since late 2010 every timetabled train, ranging from the humblest 2-coach DMU to the prestigious Rajdhani Expresses has 5 digit numbers. Most of the express trains have had 4 digits from the early 1990s, though slow passenger trains had various numbers including alphanumeric (e.g. 1 DUK) or 3-digit. Much to the delight of devil worshippers, there was indeed a 666 passenger between Udagamandalam (Ooty) and Coonoor which has been duly captured on film:

Train666

This train now has a 5-digit number. But Satanists need not lose heart, since there is still a diesel loco with the number 6666. It is probably still running in the Ahmedabad area (see below for it running with its Sabarmati markings) though it was based at Mhow in central India some years ago.

Devil

Finally, if you were wondering about the rude name alluded to by Mr Fergusson, you can check the maps for the roads between Linz (Austria) and Passau (Germany) where you will come across the village of Pucking.

We return to short names in the next instalment.

The copyright of all pictures and portions of other websites given here rest with the original owners.

The long and short of it

The first of a series of posts devoted to the railway stations of India (mainly) and other countries. Today we look at stations with long names. There are estimated to be over 7000 railway stations in India where passenger trains stop, and a fair number of others which are only for goods trains. There will be some with long names and some with short names. As we see later, there are others with peculiar names. As most people with some acquaintance with the railways know, the longest station name is this one in Andhra Pradesh between Arakkonam and Renigunta. It is adjacent to the border of Tamil Nadu and is on one of the “Golden Quadrilateral” routes linking Mumbai and Chennai. A few slow passenger trains stop there.

Venkat

This is now sufficiently well known to appear on jokes like this:

Venkat-2

Or this one, though you need to be familiar with the film “300” to appreciate it:

This is Venkat

However, it pales into insignificance before this example from Wales in the UK.

Llanfair

This station is on the main line to the port of Holyhead (for Ireland) and several trains stop there. The name originated as a sort of local joke but the people there thought that the place would become a tourist attraction-as it is indeed the longest station name in the world. Many tourists have their picture taken there. The timetables lists it as Llanfair PG. Incidentally it is close to an air force base where Prince William flew helicopters for a while.

There are a few multi-word stations in India which are quite long, such as this one near Hyderabad:

NPA

The timetables usually list it as NPA Shivarampally, which will send bankers into a panic. It is actually the National Police Academy where IPS officers are trained. Another unlikely-looking candidate is in the suburbs of Chennai:

VOC

This started off as “Tondiarpet Marshalling Yard”, itself quite a mouthful. Later it was named after a well-known freedom fighter. His full name was Valliappan Olaganathan Chidambaram Pillai (1872–1936), popularly known by his initials, V.O.C. (spelt Vaa. Oo.Ce in Tamil), also known as Kappalottiya Tamilan “The Tamil Helmsman”. Of course, the local people are quite happy to call it VOC Nagar. Most of the long names are in Southern India, though the North has a few such as Fatehabad Chandrawatiganj Junction near Indore. I could not get a picture of this, so I have to manage with a clip of the timetable. It  would be the longest-named junction in India.

FTD

North India has some multi-word examples such as Giani Zail Singh Sandhwan. Many of the two-word station names seem to have appeared because the station serves two villages of similar importance and both have to be mentioned. The region around Jaisalmer has many of these:

Jaisalmer

One station near Kharagpur goes a step better with Narayan Pakuria Murail (Flag), the flag indicating that the train stops only when flagged down by the station staff or if a passenger tells the train staff. These seem to occur only in timetables of eastern India. In this particular case the station seemed to be equidistant from three equally important places, so all had to be included.

NPM

Some more examples are seen here, on the Khammam-Vijayawada section of the Golden Diagonal from Delhi to Chennai.

Tondala

Here we see Tondala Gopavaram, which may be the longest two-word station name in Telangana while there is another fairly long one Cheruvumadhavaram across the border in Andhra Pradesh. A little to the north on the same line is Gundratimadugu, maybe the longest one-word name in Telangana. In British times it was Gundrati Margoo.

Earlier the longest one-word station name from Tamil Nadu was Tannirpandalpalayam between Salem and Erode, but it was closed some years ago. The longest name of this kind in Tamil Nadu may be Periyanaikanpalaiyam north of Coimbatore.  Another point of interest in the Chennai region is Senji-Panambakkam. This is not that long but would be of interest to internet users as its code is SPAM.

A few other long ones which need to be expanded are BEML Nagar in Karnataka which relates to Bharat Earth Movers Ltd and JK Puram in Andhra Pradesh which is not connected to the JK industrial group but is Jaggambhotla Kamalapuram. Telangana hits back with Sri Bala Brahmareshwara Jogulamba Halt near Kurnool. I had intended to take up the shortest named stations, but this is already too long and so they go into the next post.

(All pictures used here are copyright of the original owners.)