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From: Dheeraj Sanghi <dheeraj@cs.email

Subject: A mailing list

Date: 29 Aug 1989 23:03:00 -0500


Hi everyone,
I have set up a mailing list, so that everyone can send mail
at one address, and there is no need to remember all the addresses.
It can be accessed as "irfca@amazon.email.
But beware, this can be a temporary mailing list, since the
system-staff may not like the idea. But until that time,....

Here is the current list of members,

chitta@konark.email
dheeraj@amazon.email
kumar@iec.email
kumar@mps.email
raja@cpsvax.email
revankar@cs.email
roy@neon.email
selwyn@delta.email
vbs@silly.email

I would be keeping an archive of all the mail to this address,
(Well, as long as the address is working) but currently have
no plans for making it available via anonymous ftp. I have not
put biswaas@uimrl.email since mail to him bounces. For any
add/delete request, please send mail to irfca-request@amazon.email.

thanks for all the mail from all you guys so far,
-dheeraj

From: Dheeraj Sanghi <dheeraj@cs.email

Subject: Re: Japanese Bullet Trains

Date: 29 Aug 1989 23:43:00 -0500


Hi,
I liked Kumar's posting on Japanese bullet trains. I would
really like to hear from others who have travelled in trains in other
foriegn countries. Has anyone seen PBS series on "World's best train
journeys." I have seen only one on India. It was long ago. They keep
repeating it here, but somehow, I always come to know of it after its
over. May be my nocturnal habits have something to do with it.

One thing that I have been thinking for a long time now is
the problem of arbitrary passengers in the reserved compartments.
My contention is that if we increase the price of ticket in the
reserved compartments, it will be less of a problem. You see, the
most people, who travel without reservation are not those who did not
or could not get reservations, but daily passengers for whom getting
reservation is just not worth wasting the time. These people would
usually travel by the cheapest fare possible. Notice that these people
would usually not travel in the first class coaches. So if we create
another class of service, call it II-R, and price it say 10% more
than class II, the people would rather buy class II tickets than
class II-R tickets. In any case, just charging clerkage (and sleeper
charges for the night train) is not good enough. People in reserved
compartments are getting much better service than in unreserved
coaches. true these people have spent time in queue, but still I
think it is fair to ask them to pay more. What has this got to do with
Kumar's mail. Well, he mentions that even in Japan bullet trains, there
is a 10% difference of fare between reserved and unreserved coaches for
the same class of coaches.

On a similar note, I think the super-fast charges should
not be a fixed 10 Rs. (or whatever it is currently), but should be
a percentage of the actual fare. The idea of the super-fast surcharge
was that people are saving time, and they should pay more for this.
Well, people going longer distances are saving more than people going
smaller distances, and therefore they should pay more. In fact, I
would go ahead and suggest that this percentage be not called a
"surcharge" but added to the fare itself. i.e. instead of having just
two classes of fares, "passenger" and "express", have three classes
of fares, the third one being "super-fast". This should further stop
people from jumping on to super-fast trains especially in the reserved
compartments.

I have yet another suggestion to make. Why don't we make all
coaches on all super-fast trains reserved. That was the policy until
about 1979, when government said that there should be at least one
unreserved coach in every train (save Rajdhani) for people who have
to go on a very short notice beacuse of an emergency. Well, the people
I have met in the trains, who donot have reservations, are not the
ones who have just lost a loved one, and going to see his/her family,
or the ones who have just got an interview call for the job, but the
ones, who just want to go to the next station. I agree that there are
people who do not get reservations even weeks in advance, and have to
travel in unreserved coaches, but there is no reason why they have to
travel in super-fast trains. I think there ought to be a class of
service between what is 2nd class these days, and much over-priced
1st class. I, for one, would be satisfied with a class with same
comfort as the current 2nd class minus unwanted passengers, and I am
ready to pay extra for it. What do others think?

If you have read so far, thanks for your patience,
-dheeraj

From: KUMAR <KUMAR@MPS.EMAIL

Subject: Mad sycophantic rantings of a fanatic

Date: 30 Aug 1989 13:59:00 -0500


Hi Folks,

WARNING!! What follows is a rather exaggerated sycophantic rantings of
a hopeless train-nut, singing praises about his 2nd favorite train!!

Thought I would describe a typical journey on one of my favorites, the
Howrah-Madras Mail. This train has not withstood the onslaught of the
past decade and a half very well. It has been outshadowed by the
Coromandel Exp., Konarak Exp., the Guwahati-Trivandrum(?) Exp., and
even the likes of the Krishna and the Godavari Exps. not to speak of
the stiff challenge from the likes of the Sri Jagannath Exp.

But "The Mail" as it was affectionately known all along the Coromandel
coast used to be queen on the eastern coastal line for many many years.

I enjoyed the southward journey more as it meant that I had a good
month or two to spend in Madras doing nothing but eating, sleeping and
meeting friends and relatives!

The Mail would start from a rather obscure platform because the pride
of place at Howrah was reserved for the E.Rly trains. It would depart
around 18:30 hrs. just as dusk was falling, usually pulled by an
electric locomotive (WAM or WAG, I don't remember). My eyes would be
glued to the window and to try to find out where the Kharagpur line
left the E.Rly line to Burdwan and beyond. I never could, because of
the train yards. If I was lucky enough, I would be sitting on the side
from which I could see the Howrah Maidan-Amta light railway trains
puffing along on almost parallel tracks; the Mail would usually
overtake a couple of these trains. Anyway, soon the Mail would pass
Santragachi Jn. and we would be well on our way to Kharagpur, picking
up speed. Darkness would soon descend and stations flash by with the
occasional encounter with EMU's which ran between Howrah and Kharagpur.
I could hardly read the names of the stations, but could guess their
names..Uluberia, Kulgachia, Bognan, Mecheda, Panskura (after crossing
the Roopnarayan river). About two hours later, we would reach
Kharagpur with its long platform (longest in the world). It was time
for me to go to sleep. The electric loco would be replaced by a WDM
diesel and soon the train would depart bidding adieu to the
Nagpur/Bombay line and its competitors for prestige, the Howrah-Bombay
Mail and the Howrah-Tata Steel express. The Mail was now queen till
atleast Vijayawada.

I would be almost asleep and could only imagine the Mail racing through
Hijli kissing the IIT Kh campus and venturing in the darkness toward
the W.Bengal-Orissa border. Balasore, Bhadrak, Jajpur-Keonjhar Road
would be lost in the night with only the thundering of the Mail over
one of the numerous bridges serving to remind me of the great Mahanadi
and the Baitarani. Cuttack would come and go with the Mahanadi.
Bhubaneswar would be lost in the darkness. Khurda Road Jn. was next
and I would usually wake up here as the stop used to be long and it
would be about 04:00 hrs or so. The Puri-bound passrs. would get off
and the Mail would continue southward. I would wake up at around 05:00
at the crack of dawn as to see what, I still believe, is one of the
most beautiful stretches on the Indian Railways. The timing of the Mail
used to be perfectly synchronised with the rising sun over the Chilka
lake. A picture-postcard scene....I'll never forget this. The non-
stop, fast, early morning run to Berhampur was exhilarating.

The next stop would be in A.P. and for the many southies on the train
this would be like the beginning of a homecoming. Palasa would be that
stop, followed by Srikakulam Road. The sight of a track merging from
the west (from Sambalpur) would indicate the proximity of Vizianagaram
Jn. This station used to remind me of Vizzy the famous cricket
commentator. I would be getting hungry; but Waltair was more than an
hour away. The Mail would play hide and seek with the Eastern Ghats
south of Vizianagaram and finally reach Waltair around noon or a little
later after looping the famous Simhachalam temple hill.
The first half of the journey was over.

After lunch and a reversal, the Mail would continue under the auspices
of the SC Rly. An 18 mt. run to Anakapalle. Tuni would be next, on the
banks of the Tuni river. The richness and fertility of coastal A.P.
would be evident as the Mail roared toward Samalkot Jn. (famous for
gingelly oil). At this point I would be starting to get goose-pimples
at the thought of coming crossing of the mighty Godavari at
Rajahmundry. I would be excited at Rajahmundry and my heart would be
thumping as the engine sounded for the Mail to depart. We would slowly
pick up speed and head towards Godavari station; some older women would
offer a quiet prayer or two. The Godavari station almost ends at the
bridge. The old Godavari bridge has no truss structure on the side and
the train was completely exposed to the river; this no doubt added to
the quiet excitement of the occasion. I think that the bridge is almost
a mile long; people used to drop money into the river. Eventually we
would be on the other side with the thundering giving way to the much
quieter clattering of the wheels. We would speed toward Kovvur and
race past it toward Nidadavole Jn.

Nidadavole Jn. is the branch-off point for the Bhimavaram Town-Gudivada
loop line to Vijayawada taken by both the Kakinada-Madras Circar
Express and the Howrah-Madras Express (and later in its reincarnation
as the Tata/Bokaro-Madras Express). I remember that at almost every
station whenever people attempted to get on our train someone inside
would say "this is reserved". The people outside would be skeptical
until the magic words "but this is The Mail" were uttered. They would
then draw back with reverence. Such was the respect commanded by the
Mail.

After Nidadavole would come Tadepalligudem, an important rice marketing
center, again testifying to the richness of coastal andhra. The name
used to amuse me and I would jokingly refer to this as Thedu
Pallikoodam which means "find the school" in Tamil. Nightfall would
have occured as we speeded past Vatlur and Powerpet into Eluru Jn.
An hour later we would be going past Gundala into Vijayawada. If I was
lucky, I would catch the Kazipet line; I could never catch the Gudivada
line.

Dinner at Vijayawada (20:30 hrs) would be followed by the passengers
getting ready to sleep by unfolding the middle berth. I hated this
because I loved to see the Krishna bridge. Anyway, I would manage to
sit crouched on a lower berth and await the first canal bridge, the
Krishna River bridge and the second canal bridge. Krishna Canal Jn.
would follow (used to be called Kistnacanal Jn.) leading into
Kolanukonda. The Mail would haughtily ignore both. Upon the insistance
of my mother, I had then to go to sleep. Tenali, I would notice because
I would still be awake half-hour later. I would be half asleep at
Ongole, Nellore and Gudur Jn. Passengers who were detraining would wake
me up with their conversation. Eventually the activity in the
compartment would signal the proximity of Madras. It would be close to
04:00, but people would be up packing and washing up. I would quickly
wash up and come back and stick my face out of the window; I can almost
reel off the stations we whizzed past.....Akkampet, Tada, (AP/TN
border), Arambakkam, Elavur, Gummidipundi, Kaveraipettai, Ponneri,
Anubampattu, Minjur, Attipattu, (bridge over lagoon), Ennore, Wimco
Nagar, Tiruvottiyur, Tondiarpet, Korukkupettai, Basin Bridge Jn. We
would invariably stop at Basin Bridge with the odor from the Buckingham
Canal mixing with the coal-ash odor of the Basin Bridge loco-shed and
the thermal plant mingling with the whistles and the whoosh-whooshes of
the numerous steam locos. Things would be quiet on the Arakkonam line;
I always wished that the Bombay-Madras Mail would turn up!! Soon we
would be off and come to a halt at platform 1 at Madras Central to the
shouts of coolies and the sight of passengers craning their heads to
catch sight of their loved ones!! The time would be 05:15.

Regards,

Kumar

From: KUMAR <KUMAR@MPS.EMAIL

Subject: Indian railways, what else?!!

Date: 30 Aug 1989 17:07:00 -0500


Hi,

I am tempted by Vijay's suggestion to post something on rec.railroad about
Indian Railways; I will do so shortly.

Yes, I think INDRAIL sounds more catchy than IRFCA. I vote yes for the name
change.

There are a couple of guys who mightn't have recd. my Japan bullet train
mailing. If so, please send me a note & I'll e-mail it to you.

Dheeraj's suggestion of the II-R class sounds OK. Also isn't there a EQ (
Emergency Quota) available on reserved compts.?

How about making the minimum ticket price equivalent to 20% (or 30%) of the
inter-terminal distance of that particular superfast train. For example, if one
wants to travel between N. Delhi and Aligarh (140 kms) on the Howrah Deluxe,
one has to pay the fare for 290 kms (20% of the NDLS-HWH distance). This
should discourage next-station travellers.

This going-to-the-next-station used to be abused on the Coromandel Express
when it was first introduced. One could get on at Madras; once the train
started the person could ride on till Vijayawada. He could then go to
another compartment and ride on till Waltair. He could then repeat the
process (sleeping on the floor at night). Usually, nobody would bother him
at Bhubaneswar and he was home free all the way to Howrah. Even if somebody
did bother him at Bhubaneswar, he could slink into another compartment! I
have heard of people who did this!

Regards, Kumar

From: Vijay Balasubramanian <vbs@silly.email

Subject: Another's fanatic's thougths!

Date: 30 Aug 1989 17:47:00 -0500


Hi there!

It is wisely said that the early bird catches the worm. So? You may not
believe this but I had plans to describe my typical journey on the
Bombay - Howrah Mail (via Allahabad) from Bombay V.T. to Mughal Sarai, very
soon. Inspite of faster trains, this is one of the most sought after trains
on the route, due to its punctuality and being a "Mail" train. This train
has always commanded respect as well as drawn affection from me.

But two massive rail journeys mixed with a large dose of emotional and
nostalgic rantings, might be too much to swallow in one evening. I, therefore,
contend myself to put forth my comments on Kumar's typical journey.

WARNING: when two train-nuts collide (or should I say collude), pandemonium
occurs.


> Thought I would describe a typical journey on one of my favorites, the
> Howrah-Madras Mail. This train has not withstood the onslaught of the
> past decade and a half very well. It has been outshadowed by the
> Coromandel Exp., Konarak Exp., the Guwahati-Trivandrum(?) Exp., and
> even the likes of the Krishna and the Godavari Exps. not to speak of
> the stiff challenge from the likes of the Sri Jagannath Exp.

The Coromandel Exp. was introduced, I believe, around 1974, before which the
Howarh-Mail was the fastest train between Howrah and Madras. I have measured
the Mail's average speed in various sections and
it is still reasonably fast when
compared to other trains such as the Konark Exp., Sri Jagannath Exp., the
Guwahati-Trivandrum Exp. (and the other trains with the same time schedule),
the East Coast Exp. (this is fast in the Visakhapatnam-Vijayawada section).
It has four more halts than the Konark exp. in their common route,
Chatrapur, Ichchapuram, Somapeta (why the last two; not even the East Coast
Exp. stops there), and Annavaram.

The Hwh-Madras Mail used to have tri-weekly AC Chair service, and daily
AC First Service; around the mid-seventies the AC Chair Car service was
withdrawn and now the AC I Class service has been restricted to three days
a week. In fact, if I am not mistaken, the train used to be vestibuled a long
time ago with the coaches having a yellow strip at the windows.

I have traveled by the Mail once; it was the second train in my Bangalore-Howrah
journey. I have also traveled once by the Coromandel Exp. from Madras to
Howrah. What a contrast in the journeys! I would love to describe them in
detail right here, but let me take a back seat for a while,
and stick with the job at hand.


> The Mail would start from a rather obscure platform because the pride
> of place at Howrah was reserved for the E.Rly trains. It would depart
> around 18:30 hrs. just as dusk was falling, usually pulled by an
> electric locomotive (WAM or WAG, I don't remember).

WAM for sure, most probably a WAM-4 (W = B.G. rails, A = AC overhead traction,
M = multi-purpose load); WAG is for goods trains only (it has a lower gearing
and higher tractive effort, G = Goods). Let me not digress away
into locomotive description here.


> My eyes would be
> glued to the window and to try to find out where the Kharagpur line
> left the E.Rly line to Burdwan and beyond. I never could, because of
> the train yards. If I was lucky enough, I would be sitting on the side
> from which I could see the Howrah Maidan-Amta light railway trains
> puffing along on almost parallel tracks; the Mail would usually
> overtake a couple of these trains.

The railway yard used to be the scene of many an unscheduled halt in either
direction. This used to get on my nerves sometimes, especially towards Howrah.
BTW, The AC traction
on the Howrah-Kharagpur section as well as the Hwh-Barddhaman
Grand Chord section
(via Kamarkundu Jn.) uses a different of poles (more representative of overhead
traction after the sixties) than the ones used in the Howrah-Barddhaman Main
Line section (via Chandannagar, Bandel). I have always been attracted to the
former.

The Howrah Maiden - Amta N.G. is no longer in existence. Did it have a station
called Borgochia? I remember a plan to convert a N.G. section to Broad gauge,
and this was a station on that track. I had gone to visit our driver's village
sometime and I could spot remnents of the track at places where it crossed the
road.


> Anyway, soon the Mail would pass
> Santragachi Jn. and we would be well on our way to Kharagpur, picking
> up speed. Darkness would soon descend and stations flash by with the
> occasional encounter with EMU's which ran between Howrah and Kharagpur.
> I could hardly read the names of the stations, but could guess their
> names..Uluberia, Kulgachia, Bognan, Mecheda, Panskura (after crossing
> the Roopnarayan river). About two hours later, we would reach
> Kharagpur with its long platform (longest in the world). It was time
> for me to go to sleep. The electric loco would be replaced by a WDM
> diesel and soon the train would depart bidding adieu to the
> Nagpur/Bombay line and its competitors for prestige, the Howrah-Bombay
> Mail and the Howrah-Tata Steel express. The Mail was now queen till
> atleast Vijayawada.

If my memory serves me right, the station after Howrah towards Kharagpur
is Tikiapara. The trains used to go around the EMU-shed before passing thru'
this station. Uluberia, Macheda and Panskura are all EMU terminii. In fact,
some trains like the Howrah-Ahmedabad Exp. and the Howrah-Ranchi-Hatia Exp.
stop here, whereas the rest have a direct run between Howrah and Kharagpur
(around 2 hrs.) This route has a triple line till Panskura ("Panch Kuda"),
meaning five villages (?).

It is an extermely scenic route, with lush tropical foliage daring to come
within a metre away from the tracks. Numerous undulations mark the journey.
Sometimes the tracks huddle each other and sometimes they are distant, usually
when a bridge makes its appearance.

I have traveled on the Hwh-Kharapgur route mostly on the Steel and Ispat
Expresses to and from Tatanagar. I have also traveled once by the Gitanjali
Exp. and once by the Bombay-Howrah Mail (via Nagpur).

Sonpur had the longest platform in the world till the end of the 70's.
Now Kharagpur has taken over; incidently, two trains of normal length (about
15 coaches) can comfortably stand one after the other on the same platform.
One train would be stationed at the rear end of the platform.
The second would approach the platform on the adjoining track and switch to
the original one just after the locomotive.
Kharagpur is one of the divisional headquarters in the SE railway.

The Coromandel and the Gitanjali were the only two trains not to stop here
in earlier years. The Coromandel was the first to go, around 1982,
when they made it change locomotives (hence, a 20 mt. halt).
The Gitanjali followed suit around 1986 (2 mts.)


> I would be almost asleep and could only imagine the Mail racing through
> Hijli kissing the IIT Kh campus and venturing in the darkness toward
> the W.Bengal-Orissa border. Balasore, Bhadrak, Jajpur-Keonjhar Road
> would be lost in the night with only the thundering of the Mail over
> one of the numerous bridges serving to remind me of the great Mahanadi
> and the Baitarani. Cuttack would come and go with the Mahanadi.
> Bhubaneswar would be lost in the darkness. Khurda Road Jn. was next
> and I would usually wake up here as the stop used to be long and it
> would be about 04:00 hrs or so. The Puri-bound passrs. would get off
> and the Mail would continue southward. I would wake up at around 05:00
> at the crack of dawn as to see what, I still believe, is one of the
> most beautiful stretches on the Indian Railways. The timing of the Mail
> used to be perfectly synchronised with the rising sun over the Chilka
> lake. A picture-postcard scene....I'll never forget this. The non-
> stop, fast, early morning run to Berhampur was exhilarating.

Isn't Cuttack surrounded by the (branches of) the Mahanadi river on two sides?
My train (the Mail) went thru' two rail bridges one before and one
after Cuttack. I didn't realize this during my earlier journey on the
Coromandel, as it bypasses Cuttack (leaves the main route at Barang and
joins it at Nergundi). Strangely, I do not remember my train passing thru' any
major bridge. Had I somehow missed the Mahanadi river? (I hadn't slept the
whole night in the train, and was half-awake at 7 in the morning)

The Up and Down Mails cross each other near Bhubaneswar. At least, that's
what happened to me when I was traveling towards Howrah. The Coromandel Exp.
encounters the Visakhapatnam (then called Waltair)-Bhubaneswar route in the
night. Hence, my
experiences were quite similar. I savored every bit of the Chilka lake, with
the vast expanse of shimmering water creating a mesmerizing effect.
Of course, the train didn't stop at Srikakulam Rd., or at Palasa.
It slowed down at Berhampur (it now stops there for 2 mts.), and to my utter
disgust, it made unscheduled halts at Vizianagaram and Khurda Rd.
I get wickedly delightful when my superfast train doesn't halt at big stations;
I can almost sense the station crowd staring at the passing train (*my* train)
in awe.


> Rajahmundry. I would be excited at Rajahmundry and my heart would be
> thumping as the engine sounded for the Mail to depart. We would slowly
> pick up speed and head towards Godavari station; some older women would
> offer a quiet prayer or two. The Godavari station almost ends at the
> bridge. The old Godavari bridge has no truss structure on the side and
> the train was completely exposed to the river; this no doubt added to
> the quiet excitement of the occasion. I think that the bridge is almost
> a mile long; people used to drop money into the river. Eventually we
> would be on the other side with the thundering giving way to the much
> quieter clattering of the wheels. We would speed toward Kovvur and
> race past it toward Nidadavole Jn.

The 142 Dn. Coromandel Exp. reaches Rajamundry around 6.00 p.m.
During the time I made my journey, it did not have a halt there. I could sense
my nerves tingling as we neared the Godavri bridge after
passing Kovvur. I had heard a lot about this bridge; in fact, it probably is
the only river bridge in India to actually curve slightly (about 10 degrees)
while over the river. So I stuck my head out of the train (I tend to do it
whenever a curve approaches) and could actually see the WDM-2 engine
pull out of the bridge and into Rajamundry station.

After the bridge, came a tense moment! Will the train make a stupid halt or not?
The train slowed down precariously, so much so that it took nearly two minutes
to cross the platform. But it emerged victorious; it had simple IGNORED
Rajahmundry.


> Nidadavole Jn. is the branch-off point for the Bhimavaram Town-Gudivada
> loop line to Vijayawada taken by both the Kakinada-Madras Circar
> Express and the Howrah-Madras Express (and later in its reincarnation
> as the Tata/Bokaro-Madras Express). I remember that at almost every

Even the Tirupati-Puri exp. takes this route. Isn't Bhimaravam the gateway to
Narasapur? I believe there is a Narasapur - Secunderabad Exp.


I guess you guys have had just about enough of train talk. But I sure don't
hope so.

With regards,

Vijay

From: Dheeraj Sanghi <dheeraj@cs.email

Subject: Re: Indian railways, what else?!!

Date: 30 Aug 1989 21:37:00 -0500


Hi,
I am not so keen on name change to INDRAIL. It definitely
sounds more catchy, but confuses me with INDRAIL passes that IR
sells for foriegn currency. By the way, does anyone know how much
they cost, and other info etc? Somebody had asked this in SCI a
few months back, but there was hardly any response.

The idea of making the minimum ticket price to be 20%
or so of the end-to-end ticket sounds good, and IR does something
similar for some super-fast trains. They have a restriction of
480KM on many trains, including Tinsukia mail from N Delhi. If
you want to travel in the train, you got to have a ticket of at
least 480 KM, and believe me, that does help. Why don't they do
it for all super-fast trains.

Another question I have is about the classification of
trains. How do they determine which train is passenger, fast
passenger, express, mail, superfast etc. Now, Gomti takes about
the same time as many other trains on the Delhi Kanpur route, but
while other trains are considered superfast, Gomti is no longer
considered a superfast train.

-dheeraj

PS: Lets hear from some other people too!!

From: raja <raja@pixel.email

Subject: Hello

Date: 30 Aug 1989 23:45:00 -0500


Let me introduce myself:

Narayan Sriranga Raja
Ph.D. Student
Computer Sci. Dept.
(Parallel computing for Vision)

I was born in Calcutta, lived in Bombay all my
life and used to visit my relatives in bangalore
and Srirangam (Tamil Nadu) every vacation during
my school days. So a lot of my memories involve
railway journeys.

"INDRAIL" sounds confusing to me (like a railway
pass of the same name). Actually "IRFCA" has a
old-fashioned flavour which I rather like. If
we must change the name, how about that long
Sanskrit word meaning "Fire chariot that travels
on iron rails" which people quote from time to
time on s.c.indian? It would be amusing and
be a fine, eccentric and exclusive-sounding
name for a railway fans' association.

My favourite train(s): Udyan express and Island Express

Through all my schooldays and most of my years
in IIT-B, whenever I went to Bangalore I had to
change at either Miraj or Guntakal. We always
used to look out of the window on the metre-guage
train from Guntakal to bangalore and wonder when
the broad-guage line which we could see being
constructed would be ready. Well, it's been
ready for some years now and Udyan goes all the
way to Bangalore in about 24 hours.

Actually I feel rather nostalgic for the good old
days when we used to have a couple of hours to
wait early in the morning at Guntakal Junction
and would have a leisurely breakfast of idlis
and coffee at the Vegetarian refreshment room.
It would be our first taste of authentic South
Indian coffee on the journey from Bombay (assuming
we arrived late in the night).

More about the Island Express later.

Best regards,

Raja.

From: KUMAR <KUMAR@MPS.EMAIL

Subject: More contribution please!

Date: 30 Aug 1989 23:47:00 -0500


Hi folks:

How about FIRA i.e. Fans of Indian Railways in America?

Let's have contributions from some others! Tell us your experiences on your
favorite trains, for instance. Or what about those trips you might have
made on beauties like the Agra Cantt.-Jhansi passenger through the Chambal
ravines at slow speed with maybe a "Baghi" (chambal dacoit) or two sitting
by your side!

I don't know how they classify trains. I guess the time-table-maker-walla
does it at the instance of the divisional/zonal bosses. Passengers usually
stop at all stations except the occasional Halt/Flag/Block whereas Fast
passengers have stretches of two/three skipped stops. This super-express
thing must get decided at the zonal railway level and maybe even at the Rly
. board level. It is strange that Gomti is no longer superfast; the
Shatabdi-wallas must have seen to it. Let them however try de-superfasting
the more-frequently-stopping Kalka mail! The bigwigs will hear about it.

BTW, can someone expound on the properties of the Halt, Flag and Block type
stations? Also, do diesel coaches run anymore on IR?

Regards, Kumar

From: Dheeraj Sanghi <dheeraj@cs.email

Subject: Re: More contribution please!

Date: 31 Aug 1989 00:06:00 -0500


Hi folks,
I don't know what you mean by diesel coaches, but if you are
referring to counterparts of EMU, yes, there are Diesel Multiple Units.
At least they run on M.G. route connecting Kanpur to nearby places.
Each train consist of only 1 unit of 3 coaches (as opposed to 3 EMUs
for 9 coaches on Bombay locals). I have never travelled in those trains,
but passing through the railway crossings (they call it "Gumti" there),
they don't seem very fast, definitely not as fast as EMUs.

regards,
-dheeraj

From: Chitta R. Baral <chitta@konark.email

Subject:

Date: 31 Aug 1989 12:01:00 -0500


Vijay writes
...
Isn't Cuttack surrounded by the (branches of) the Mahanadi river on two sides?
My train (the Mail) went thru' two rail bridges one before and one
after Cuttack. I didn't realize this during my earlier journey on the
Coromandel, as it bypasses Cuttack (leaves the main route at Barang and
joins it at Nergundi). Strangely, I do not remember my train passing thru' any
major bridge. Had I somehow missed the Mahanadi river? (I hadn't slept the
whole night in the train, and was half-awake at 7 in the morning).
....
10 miles west of Cuttack, Mahanadi divides into 4 major
branches.
2 of them Mahanadi and Kathajodisurround Cuttack. The third branch
Birupa comes between Kendrapara Road and Nirgundi(?). The fourth branch,
Kuakhai, comes between Balikuda and Baranga. The structure is

Nirgundi
Birupa
KendraPara Road
Mahanadi
Cuttack
Kathajori
balikuda
Kuakhai
Barang
Mancheswar
Bhubaneswar.

The trains which bypass Cuttack, just pass through the undivided Mahanadi, which
is not that wide at that point and has a healthy bridge. Trains going over the
Mahanadi bridge near cuttack do so at 3-5 mi/hr.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------
Preview of Next Episode
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
The common postfixes of stations:
..pur(Kanpur, Nagpur..)
..swar(Bhubaneswar, Baleswar...)
..halli(a lot of station in Karnataka, may be some other places too)
..pet(begumpet,..., mostly in AP, I think?)
..Road(i think I know why)
..gachhi(Santragachhi, Belgachhia.. mostly in West Bengal)

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

-------------------------------------------------------------------------
---
Chitta

From: Shriram Revankar <revankar@cs.email

Subject: Re: More contribution please!

Date: 31 Aug 1989 14:38:00 -0500


IRFCA, INDRAIL, FIRA ...

How about FACIR (pronounced as Fakeer) : FAn Club of Indian Railway?

Shriram.

From: Vijay Balasubramanian <vbs@snoopy.email

Subject: Common you guys!

Date: 31 Aug 1989 13:01:00 -0500


Hi there!

(I starting typing this mail yesterday night, but left in in limbo, which I am
sending now. Probably some of this mail is outdated.
Was bombarded by "hajaar" stuff today. Will send my comments soon, after
reading thru' them)

I see that the IRFCA is going steady (if INDRAIL sounds confusing how about
something else?). We would like to hear from the psilent guys too. I am sure
they have their own stories to tell, some interesting thoughts to share.
Look at how Kumar, Dheeraj and I (and now Chitta) are rambling away to glory.
It keeps the net alive; that's the whole idea of the club.

About reservation charges, one could incorporate any proposed increase in
fare for reserved travel over ordinary travel in the reservation charges
itself. Will it be different than having a separate II-R?
By II, you still mean an unreserved coach, right?

The idea of minimum fare exists, but on a much lower scale; you pay
around Rs. 5 for any distance <= 15 kms. on a Mail/Exp. train.
Regarding superfast trains, the constant surcharge will anyway render short
distance traveling economically infeasible.

There are already six classes with repect to the distinction in fares;
Second class ordinary, Second Class Mail/Exp., AC Chair Car, First Class,
AC Sleeper and AC First Class. To add to the complexity, we have
reservation charges as well as surcharges on superfast trains. Increasing
the class number might further complicate matters.
BTW, First Class fare is slighlty less than four
times Second Class Mail/exp. fare. AC Chair Car falls in between. No wonder
it is quite popular for journeys consuming < 18 hrs. A reason why the
Rajdhani Exps. are well in demand, despite their increased AC Chair Car prices
(By 1985, their coach strength had been increased from 8(9) to 18, and their
frequency from two days to five days a week)

The distance restriction applies to most of the long distance superfast,
pseudo-superfast (trains with low no. of halts, but not classified as
superfast -> *my* definition) trains and some fast mail/exp. trains.
Most of the superfast trains such as the Tamilnadu Exp., Gitanjali Exp.,
have a distance restriction of 600 km., except in the last lap of the
journey. e.g the Tamilnadu Exp. travels a distance of 445 km. (< 600 km)
from Vijayawada to Madras Central in its last lap. The restriction doesn't
apply here.

More later,

With regards,

Vijay

From: Dheeraj Sanghi <dheeraj@cs.email

Subject: IRFCA

Date: 31 Aug 1989 17:22:00 -0500


Hi,
I like the idea of FACIR, but lets see if others have
more ideas.

By class II, I did mean unreserved coach. class II-R is not simply
class II + reservation charges, but class II + 20% (say). Semantics
is important, because many people feel that reservation charges are
to be paid only if you have a reservation (and that you can travel in
any coach with an ordinary ticket). But if they are told that it is
a separate class, and that class II tickets will not be accepted in
the reserved (class II-R) coaches, then it would definitely discourage
them from entering the reserved coaches.

Regarding superfast trains, paying a surcharge of Rs 10/-
would definitely discourage people to go from Mathura to Agra, the
fare for which is about 10-15 rupees, but not from Delhi to Agra.
My solution for avoiding unwanted passengers would be to have a
distance restriction of at least 500 KM. This would avoid short/
medium distance travellers. The long distance travellers should
be avoided by increasing fares. (extra fare in class II-R, and
a separate fare class for superfast trains which is slightly higher
than the express trains.) Now that reservations are being computerized
in all major cities, and I hope they will computerize all ticketing
by the end of the century, I am not very concerned about things
being complicated.

Distance restriction is not at all common. In fact, the only train
on the Delhi - Bihar (and beyond) trunk line, which has this restriction is
Tinsukia Mail, and that too 480 KM and not 600 KM. By the way, they are
very strict with Tinsukia Mail, and in the last leg, (Kanpur is the first
station within 480 KM from Delhi) they don't let anybody climb the train.
Even on South bound trains, GT has no such restriction, and since number of
stops have increased quite a lot in the last decade, so has the problem of
unwanted people in the reserved compartments. One thing I would surely like
to do is to reduce the number of stops of superfast trains. If some people
want to go from Tundla to Howrah in Rajdhani, the solution is not to make
another stop for Rajdhani, but to provide some service from Tundla to
Kanpur, where these people can catch Rajdhani. In case of GT, there are
probably 6 births' quota from Agra (or less). For the convenience of these
6 people, we are wasting time of about 1000 others in the train. Why
couldn't these guys take another train to Jhansi and catch GT from there.

regards,
-dheeraj

From: Vijay Balasubramanian <vbs@plumpy.email

Subject: The IRFCA expands!

Date: 31 Aug 1989 16:09:00 -0500


Hi guys!

Please welcome Mr. Sanjay Saigal (saigal@rice.email. I have requested
Dheeraj to put him on the mailing list. I see that the net activity has
increased with contributions from other members. Keep it up! We still
haven't heard from Shaibal, Sridhar, Arun, Selwyn or Dhrubes.
We would very much like to hear your side of the story.

BTW, all of you can send mail to Dhrubes at sandie2@uicsl.email.
Dheeraj, could you please update the list? Thanks.

Hmmm, we seem to have a list from which to choose a name for the club
(IRFCA, INDRAIL, FIRA, FACIR). IMHO, the name should reflect something
about India, if possible (INDRAIL, FACIR, do that).
How about just INDRA (INDian RAilways club, or just, INDian RAilways, or
INDian Railways Assocication)? Maybe we could have a longer word with
INDRA in it. INDRAJIT, INDRANIL are typically Indian, but can they be used
here?

Continuing on the pseudo-superfast story, Gomti Exp. was considered
superfast till the end of 1987; maybe things changed after that. The
classification of some trains as superfast does perplex me at times. Consider
the classic case of the dual Neelanchal Exps. (175/176 and 915/916). The
915/916 Exp. (via Adra, Midnapore) is considered superfast whereas the
other one (via Varanasi, Tatanagar) is not, inspite of the fact that the
176 Exp. is actually faster than its brother in the Delhi-Kanpur section.
Probably, in such cases, the dividing line is based on what train you want to
have the surcharge levied on (i.e. discourage short-distance travelers).
Then the de-superfastification (you will not find THIS in the dictionary!)
of the Gomti Exp. makes sense. The change has occured around the same time
as the increase in halts (Aligrah & Etawah). BTW, it does not halt at Tundla,
as far as I know.

Regarding classification of trains, there exist the "mixed" trains, which
fall in between mail/exps. and fast passengers. These seem to be different
from the "Mail/Exp. cum Pass" trains which sometimes crawl as passangers on
certain sections and are upgraded to mail/exps. on other sections.
The Muzzafarpur/Faizabad/Varanasi Ahmedabad - Sabarmati Exp. is one
such example. Another one is the Bangalore Miraj Mail cum Pass. on the MG
section.

"Halt"s are the lowest level of stations. I have noticed
some passanger trains stopping at almost all stations
except halts. I am not sure of the Flag and Block type stations. They don't
seem to be in existence anymore; at least not in an explicit form in the
station name. I sure would like to know more about them.

The Bombay local trains have two rake organizations. One has two EMUs
of four coaches each, separated by a single coach (a total of nine coaches).
Each of the four coaches comprising
the rear and front end of the EMUs, house the motor assembly and, hence,
have double pantographs on their roofs, (as opposed
to single pantographs found on the AC Electric locomotives and EMUS operating
on AC tractive power), drawing current from the 1500 dc voltage
overhead lines. Since some of these coaches would be in the front/rear end of
the train, all of them are "fitted" with driver/motorman cabins during
production. The other organization is not so symmetric. Here, three
coaches (not necessarily the front and rear) house the motor assembly, each.
The location of multiple units enable these trains to accelerate very fast,
as high as 70 kmph / min.

I had traveled in a Diesel Multiple Unit between Tiruchchirapalli and
Thanjavur on the M.G. Tiruchi-Villupuram main line section, a long time ago.
As I recall, it went at medium speed (maybe 50 kmph.). What interested
me was the view from the driver's cabin! Need I say more?


Hope I haven't bored you to death,

With regards,

Vijay





From: KUMAR <KUMAR@MPS.EMAIL

Subject: This and that!!

Date: 31 Aug 1989 21:28:00 -0500


Hi folks!

Dheeraj's criticism of the Agra stop for the GT has whetted my appetite for
directing more ire at the powers that be which put in all those stupid
stops for the GT. Raja-ki-Mandi, a mere 10 kms from Agra Cantt. (Vijay and
I have discussed this before), Vidisha and Bina (they should get rid of one
at least), Hoshangabad (near Itarsi), Betul (near Amla), Pandhurna ( a new
stupid stop), Chandrapur (near Ballarshah), Manchiryal (near Ramagundam).

Chitta's description of the Mahanadi distributaries was very informative, I
didn't know this.

It pains me to learn that the Howrah Madras mail stops at Chatrapur,
Ichchapuram and Sompeta. BTW, Ichchapuram is right on the Orissa-AP border.
They have destroyed my beloved mail. This reminds me of one journey by the
mail when due to floods, some bridges on the Vijayawada-Madras section were
closed. The mail went from Vijayawada to Madras via Kazipet, Secunderabad,
Wadi, Raichur, Guntakal and Renigunta and arrived 29 hrs. late! My mother
was upset, but I was thrilled at the prospect of travelling on routes I had
never been through before.

More complaining: another train which has been steadily undermined is the
Madras-Bangalore Brindavan Exp. This used to cover the ~ 350 km route in 5
hrs. Now, I believe, it takes more than 6 hrs. BTW, have they broad-gauged
the Bangalore City-Mysore route? Also, is there an express train on the MG
Bangalore-Hasan-Mangalore route. I can also imagine a coast-to-coast
Mangalore-Rameswaram Express.

I believe that the Halt stations are just like regular small stations, but
do not have sidings and interchanges. The tracks just run through the
station without spreading out or changing in any way. There are usually
platforms on both sides.

A Flag station usually consists of a small manned shed. There are usually
no platforms (maybe a very very short one on one of the tracks only). It is
sort of like an undeveloped Halt station. There used to be one near Barauni
on NE Rly.

I am not sure about the Block. I believe that this is not a station, but a
signalling cabin without a station attached. Usually these are located at
stationless junctions. I remember that Vyasarpadi (near Madras) was one.

I believe that a mixed train is half passenger and half freight (goods).

I can just imagine the days when the IR will have its bullets; N. Delhi-
calcutta/bombay in 7 hrs.; N. Delhi-Madras in 12 hrs. Am I just dreamin'..
......

Regards, Kumar

From: KUMAR <KUMAR@MPS.EMAIL

Subject: This and that continued !!

Date: 31 Aug 1989 23:03:00 -0500


Hi folks!

I'm back again. Raja's mention of Srirangam brings back memories of my
trips to Lalgudi (Villupuram-Tiruchi chord line). Only two trains from
Madras Egmore used to stop at Lalgudi; the Madras-Rameswaram Passenger and
the Madras-Tuticorin Express. Madras-Tuticorin express was cancelled; but
I believe that the Rock Fort Express stops at Lalgudi now.

I have also made trips on those so-slow passengers from Lalgudi to Tiruchi
Jn. I remember the stations; Mandurai, Valadi, Uttamar Koil, Pitchandar
Koil, (Kollidam bridge), Srirangam, (Kaveri bridge), Tiruchi Town,
Ariyamangalam and Golden Rock (maybe called Ponmalai now). These trains used
to take almost 2 hrs. to cover the distance of 27 kms, but the crossing of the
wide Kollidam and the equally wide Kaveri would be more than enough
compensation! I remember that one train was scheduled to take 50 mts. to
travel from Mandurai to Lalgudi, a distance of about 3 kms.! I used to joke
that this was the world's slowest passenger train.

Regards, Kumar

From: Shriram Revankar <revankar@cs.email

Subject: Re: This and that!! (Mysore- Bangalore Broad Guage)

Date: 31 Aug 1989 23:53:00 -0500


Many politicians have given assurances and preelection promises but
the conversion of Bangalore Mysore railway line to Broad Guage remains
a unsolved problem. Technically it is a tough problem because there
are more than 600(?) small and large bridges, and hence putting a
detour however temporarily is economically and financially a
nightmare.

Well, this is not new to Karnataka. It has received a step motherly
treatment at least as long as Railways are considered. Broad Guage
passes through whole length of Sahyaadris of Maharashtra, and reaches
Meeraj at Karnataka border and then good old Meter Guage continues.
In the south, Broad Guage comes till Bangalore and stops, Finally in
the West it just enters karnataka till Mangalore and stops. Inside
Karnataka there is only one prominent (that too single lane(?))
railway line, connecting Meeraj -- Bangalore (Famous [?] Mahalaxmi
Express runs on this route). Hence even now Karnataka transport is
totally bus controlled.

But then such railway system has its own rustic beauty. There is a
short bifurcation to the main track(Meeraj-Bangalore), that joins a
small town called Talaguppa to Arasikere. This was once upon a time
heavily used to transport wood and some kind of low grade iron ore.
Now a train leaves Talaguppa around 10:00am every day -- almost empty.
The station has a good Chai-hut(?) and during train hours one can get
delicious idli and wada. Number of passengers is low, not because
there are no passengers but because the train takes more than 12 hours
to traverse about a 100 mile and get connected(some of the coaches) to
Mahalaxmi at Arasikere. May be I am exaggerating some figures, but I
love that stretch of the journey. It passes through Sahyadris and
during that stretch, since the train is almost empty, I open both the
doors and try not to miss any scene on either side!

Shriram.

From: Dheeraj Sanghi <dheeraj@cs.email

Subject: Re: This and that!!

Date: 01 Sep 1989 00:39:00 -0500


Kumar writes:
>Dheeraj's criticism of the Agra stop for the GT has whetted my appetite

Just to clarify matters. Agra was mentioned just as one of the many stops
that need to be removed. I have nothing against Agra, but I think that
superfast trains really ought to be superfast. I think they should stop
only when they need to, e.g. to change crew, to replenish stocks in the
pantry car, to fill water-tank of lavatories, to add diesel if the train
is being hauled by diesel engine, etc. At the same time, they can also
check brakes, clean coaches, and whatever else. I guess, I am advocating
a stop every 6-7 hours (500 KM).

Shriram write:
>Many politicians have given assurances and preelection promises but
>the conversion of Bangalore Mysore railway line to Broad Guage remains
>a unsolved problem.

I seem to have read somewhere that the policy of converting major
MG routes to BG routes was a flawed one. In 1977, planning commission
decided that no new gauge conversion project will be approved. The
report said something to the effect that the only advantage in having
all BG routes is that goods will not have to be unloaded and reloaded
when they are to go from an area served by only BG to another area
that is served only by MG. It said that at the speeds that IR is running
its train, MG is not unstable. It also said that the same rupee spent
in electrification of tracks give much more output, than spent on
gauge conversion.

It has been a mjor demand of people in Haryana connected by MG tracks
to Delhi (Gurgaon, Patuadi, Rewari, Garhi Harsaru etc.) that the tracks
be converted into BG, electrified, and EMUs run on them, and every
railway minister promised all that, but after 1977 the hopes have kind
of died down.

regards,
-dheeraj

From: Dheeraj Sanghi <dheeraj@cs.email

Subject: Re: The IRFCA expands!

Date: 01 Sep 1989 00:55:00 -0500


Hi,
I have added saigal@rice.email and sandie2@uicsl.email
to the mailing list. On behalf of the rest of the members, I welcome
both of you to the India Railways' Fan Club in America. I hope you
will enjoy its proceedings, and will take an active part yourself.

thanks,
-dheeraj

From: Vijay Balasubramanian <vbs@silly.email

Subject: Superfasts, in general (GT, in particular)

Date: 01 Sep 1989 09:55:00 -0500


Hi guys!

WARNING: A LONG NOTE FOLLOWS! YOU GUYS ASKED FOR IT (AFTER FILLING MY MBOX
WITH INTERESTING STORIES)

Let me discuss a bit about the halt scenario for (superfast) trains.
A person residing in place X would find it convenient to catch a train,
not stopping at/passing thru' X, at Y where it stops, only if the distance
between X and Y is sufficiently small so that (a) X - Y traveling time is within
1-2 hrs. and (b) there is frequent transportation (bus, train, etc.) between X
and Y (usually a. and b. are well-related).
e.g., Varanasi and Mughal Sarai are about 11 km. distant and buses
run between Beniya Bagh (in Varanasi) and Mughal Sarai station at about 1/2 hr.
intervals. Hence, it is feasible to board trains not running via
Varanasi but via Mughal Sarai, at Mughal Sarai Jn. itself. In fact, I have been
involved in such an undertaking more often than not when availing the services
of the Hwh-Bombay/Bombay-Hwh Mails (via Allahabad), or the Bombay Bhagalpur
Janata Exp.; or once on the Kalka Delhi Hwh Mail, the Rajdhani Exp.,
the Tinsukia Mail and the Hwh.-Delhi Janata Exp. (ugh!). However, a Tundlite
would never consider boarding the Rajdhani Exp. at Kanpur 230 km. away from
Tundla. He has better options at hand: travel on the superfast Deluxe Exp.
or Kalka Mail. ...which brings me to the point that there should be a smooth
gradation in the service provided in a particular section, so that a person
from place X need not feel frustrated if Mr. Upstart Exp. does not stop there;
he has Mr. Sympathetic Exp. to travel in, which probably takes less than
4-5 hrs. more to reach his destination. The time difference is worth it,
because has neatly avoided the agony of switching transportation at umpteen
places, hauling his hold-all and three suitcases all along; also he has avoided
any risk of missing his train at the connecting station.

This reminds of the ordeal of a friend of my friend stationed in
Kanpur who chose to travel by the TN Exp. from Jhansi to Madras.
In those, days he didn't have
the luxury of a Gorakhpur-Cochin/Mangalore Exp. or a Lucknow-Madras Exp.
He had opted to travel in the overnight Sabarmati Exp. from Kanpur to Jhansi,
which would place him at Jhansi with time to spare. However, that was not to be
on that fateful night. He woke up in the morning expecting to see Jhansi
approaching but was stymied by the all-too familiar look of the station at
which his train was currently at halt; it had never moved from Kanpur!

Continuing on my story, a superfast exp. is expected to have more halts in a
section where it is in demand, e.g. when it is the only train connecting
stations in that section to one or both of its terminii. Such was the case with
the Kerala Exp. about six years back. It had an average 400 km./stop
between Delhi
and Gudur which used to drop down to a low 50-70 km./stop between Palghat and
Trivandrum.
This didin't create problems for residents of say, Agra or Itarsi (the Kerala
woudn't stop there at that time), because of
the existence of the slower but still superfast Jayanati Janata Exp.
(In short, the Superfast Exp. which Dheeraj describes makes sense as long as
there is sufficient "back-up" for the not-so-lucky but yet-somewhat-big
stations.)

Such a situation existed even in the Delhi-Kanpur-Mughal Sarai route with
the Tinsukia and Assam Mails, the only trains to connect Delhi with Assam in
those days. The Assam Mail used to cater to the not-so-big
stations like Khurja, Shikohabad, Phaphund, Bhartana, etc. The Tinsukia Mail
used to ignore them. Once the Baranui-Katihar line was broad-gauged the Assam
Mail was cancelled and the Superfast North East Exp. was introduced, which was
faster than the Tinsukia Mail. As a result, many stations suffered. Only
Mirzapur bounced back; the Tinsukia Mail stops here now. I have often imagined
a train from Jammu Tawi to Guwahati via Delhi-M. Sarai-Gaya-Kiul providing lone
service to Etawah, Fatehpur, Dehri-On-Sone, Gaya and Kiul (among others).

Having created the necessary background, let me now elucidate the position
of the GT Exp., by comparing its relationship to the TN Exp. with their
counterparts in the Delhi-Bombay and Delhi-Howrah routes. The Bombay-Delhi
Rajdhani Exp. sits atop the ladder and is meant for the Delhi-Bombay
"junta" with minimal quota at Vadodara, Ratlam and Kota. (Next in line is the
Jammu Tawi Exp. not really meant to serve Delhi). The AC/Paschim Exp.
and the Frontier Mail are the second-level superfast daily exps. serving
decently big stations on this route. These take about 6-6 1/2 hrs. more
to travel the 1384 km. Bombay-Delhi route
and stop at 14-15 more stations enroute. A simple but neat idea actually
helps to connect more stations; the Mail stops at some stations the Exp. ignores
(Bayana, Ramganj Mandi, ...), the reverse occurs at some other stations
(Meghnagar, Valsad, Bharuch....).
Other stations not served by these trains, can rely on two daily
exps. the Bombay-Firozpur Janata and the Dehra Dun exps., besides other trains
that concern themselves with either Bombay or Delhi but not both.

A similar situation occurs in the Delhi-Howrah route. The second level
superfast AC Deluxe Exp. and Kalka Mail take about 6 - 6 1/2 hrs. more than
the Rajdhani Exp. to travel the 1441 km. distance. The 81/82 Deluxe which
shares a major portion of the route with the Rajdhani, halts at 10 more
stations. Although the Kalka Mail has 9 more halts than the Deluxe it takes
about the same time as it travels a shorter distance (the Deluxe opts for a
longer route). The increase in halt frequency between Delhi-Kanpur and
M. Sarai-Dhanbad is justified for the Kalka Mail as it is a train in demand.
In fact, it is the lone train to connect Delhi, Ghaziabad, Khurja, Hathras,
Shikohabad, Fatehpur with Sasaram and Hazaribagh Rd. The increase in halts
is compensated by allowing the Kalka Mail to employ the shortest Delhi-Hwh.
route and maintaining its speed high enough to classify it as superfast (also
it gains 40 mts. over the Deluxe due to unavoidable locomotive changeovers
at Allahabad and M. Sarai for the latter; it also avoids the much hated
single line Allahabad-Varanasi route)
The third level Toofan and Delhi Exps. do the much needed scrap work.
The Janata is a gone case; anybody who wishes to go grom Delhi to Hwh. in this
snailer is either a very patient man or has suicidal tendencies!

The Delhi-Madras route, however, has a different story to tell. There are
only THREE trains running the entire 2195 km. And the Himsagar/Madras-Jammu
Tawi Exps. travel, altogether, a mere 3 days per week.
Result: "hajaar" pressure on the GT Exp. The cancellation of the daily Link
Exp. which used to connect the Dakshin Exp. with Madras has worsened the
situation(?). Has it? Well... not that much, as we'll see in a moment.
In fact, this is what forced the GT to halt at Pandhurna, Vidisha, and
Manchiryal. The daily 21 coach TN Exp. is meant for Delhi-Madras and
the six intermediate stations it stops at viz., Jhansi, Bhopal, Nagpur,
Balharshah (is this more of a catering halt?), Warangal and Vijayawada.
(The TN when introduced, used to travel tri-weekly. The frequency was then
increased to four days/week and finally to 7/week=daily)
The 21-coach daily GT caters (or should cater)
more to the intermediate decent stations.
In fact, purely from practical considerations (leaving emotions behind),
I would go ahead
and show my displeasure towards Delhi-Madras passangers who opt for the GT,
inspite of availability in the TN (Am I asking for trouble, here?)
Note that the GT Exp. actually performs BETTER than its counterparts in the
Delhi-Bombay/HWh. routes, the AC Exps. and the mails. Although it has
20 HALTS more than the TN, it takes only 3 1/2 - 4 HRS. more than the TN.
Its position gets elevated when one realizes that the Delhi-Madras distance
is nearly 750-800 km. more than Delhi-Bombay/Hwh.
This is mainly because of the speeding up of the GT after 1980; this had to
happen sometime. This has had a two-fold advantage:
(1) Increased service in the Delhi-Madras route: 21 coaches as opposed to
14-15.
(2) Increase in speed: 21 coaches hauled by a twin-diesel unit in contrast
with 14-15 hauled by a single locomotive.
Of course, one should not forget than the TN does not fall in the same bracket
as the Rajdhani, which literally outshadows the superfasts below it.

To repeat a cliche, the GT is a train much in demand. e.g., it is the
only daily train connecting Mathura, Agra Cantt, Raja-ki-Mandi, Gwalior
with its halts between Kazipet and and Madras.
The Jammu Tawi - Madras Exp. wouldn't stop at Raja-ki-Mandi, Vidisha and
Amla (at least not till the end of last year).
As a result, the GT was the only train linking the above three stops with
it Kazipet-Madras halts (Khammam, Vijayawada, Nellore, Ongole and Gudur)
The Jammu Tawi is not an upstart IMHO, it deserves a break somewhere, as it
has to travel the seemingly unsurmountable 4000 km. distance.

Abolishing the Agra stop would definitely be a grave mistake (Dheeraj, no
offence meant). Agra Cantt is one of the most important stations
in the entire Delhi-Madras route.
It is a big city with a population definitely above 5-7 lakhs (am I hopelessly
outdated?) and is a tourist spot as well. Probably Nagpur is the only bigger
city in this route. This is exemplified by the fact that the GT exp. stops
at Agra Cant for a full 15 mts. Also, all trains except the TN and AP exp.
stop here (avg. time 10 mts.). Having a quota of n seats only indicates that
a maximum of n firm reservations can be made in the worst case. Once, the quota
is over, further reservations are possible by placing a request at the starting
station (Delhi in this case) and checking the availability on that date (of
course, the quota at stations falling before are taken into account).

If one wants to remove certain irritating halts for the GT (Pandhurna, R-k-m,
Manchiryal) one should have some kind of compensation for it, if you know what
I mean. Believe me, I get more than angry when my favorite trains starts
stopping at stupid stations! But then I, being the docile type, seek refuge
in my imaginary world, where I actually speed up my train after introducing
a compensatory train in the route (kinda neat, huh?!)


This note seems to be going on and on. Its time to put on the brakes.
I'll be back with some "minor" (ya, sure!) comments on Chitta's future mail,
Kumar's description of blocks and flags, the Villupuram-Trichi Grand chord
section, Arsikere and more train-talk.


BTW, thanks for all your informative ramblings. The Mahanadi story answered
some questions I had before (why the hell did my mail spend a reasonable time
inside one of the rail bridges? No, the Mahanadi is not THAT wide)


If you have been bored to death, please say so.


With regards,

Vijay

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