The decline of the Indian Bradshaw

The original Bradshaw started by George Bradshaw in Britain in 1839 lasted up to the early 1960s. The Indian Bradshaw was apparently not connected to the original one and apparently started publication in around 1868. A copy from 2003 mentions “135th year of publication”.

It has its place in Indian railway history as for many years it was the only consolidated source of information for the numerous railway companies all over the country-the big and the small, the railways owned by the Indian government, princely states and private companies. Many of these companies did bring out their own timetables but they would have had limited availability and would have been almost impossible to obtain outside their areas of operation. Hence the need for all-India coverage was filled by the Bradshaw which appears to have been published by W.Newman & Co of Calcutta for most of the time.

After Independence and regrouping in the 1950s, there was a regular publication called the All-India Railway Timetable which existed at least from the mid-60s and coexisted with the Indian Bradshaw. A typical page of the old Indian Bradshaw (this one from 1951):

Brad1951 000

And this one from the official All India Time Table of 1975 (though it did not always have advertisements on the cover):

TT75cover

This All India timetable appeared for the last time in 1976 and was replaced by “Trains at a Glance”, often referred to as TAAG by railfans. This covered only the reasonably important routes and the reasonably important stations on them.

The 9 zones of that time used to publish their own timetables which were generally available only in their own zones (though I remember a bookstall at Delhi Jn which used to have most of the zonal timetables). Once the All India Time Table ceased to exist the only reference for train timings all over the country (including the obscure branch lines) became the Bradshaw. It continued to be useful until the mid-2000s, when it still gave detailed coverage of the entire network (although the major suburban networks were never there). Here is one of the Bradshaws of that period:

Bradshaw 2003 001

Soon the publishers stopped covering the minor routes (and thus reduced it to a badly printed clone of TAAG). By 2005 the mess of 16 zones was addressed by the appearance of 5 zonal timetables which, between them, covered all the non-suburban services running in the country. Hard-core timetable fans concentrated on acquiring these. The networks like IRFCA had messages like “Wanted South Zone TT. Will send West Zone TT in return”.

By then, the original publishers seem to have lost interest in the Bradshaw and sold (or passed on) the brand name to other parties. This changed hands at least once more. As of today, the Indian Bradshaw is still published (but has not been seen by most railfans in recent years-not even in Kolkata).

In the mean time the Thomas Cook international timetables also ceased publication, leaving foreign tourists without a convenient source of detailed information.

Even railfans in Kolkata have had to take a lot of trouble to find a copy. Apparently the number printed is quite low now. Anyway, you can see proof of its existence below (along with the contact details of the distributors):

Bradshaw details 001

Note the prominent typo on the back cover. Nitpickers may also add that the Kolkata Metro is the 17th zone. One can also nitpick that the Konkan Railway is counted as a zone though it is not legally a part of Indian Railways (though operationally it certainly belongs to IR).

Is the present form of the Indian Bradshaw worth buying? Sadly, no. It does not seem to contain any information which is NOT contained in Trains at a Glance and costs more (particularly as the latter can be be easily downloaded for free, and detailed information is available from a variety of official and unofficial resources on the Net). And if you prefer hard copies, the 5 zonal timetables (plus separate suburban timetables for Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata) are still around.

Thanks to Souroshanka Maji for taking the trouble to locate a copy of this 2016 edition.

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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.

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