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From: vijayb <vijayb@pk705vmg.email

Subject: Navjeevan Exp.!

Date: 10 May 1991 10:01:00 -0500


Hi,

The route is as follows:- Ahmedabad-Vadodara-Surat-Nanddurbar-Jalgaon
-Bhusaval-Akola-Wardha-Balharshah-Vijayawada-Madras Central. Earlier it used
to reverse at Jalgaon and then follow the Manmad-Daund-Wadi-Guntakal route.
The switch to the new route, a couple of years back, has resulted in a
reduction of about 2 hrs. in the total running time.

Other changes include: doubling of frequency from bi-weekly to four days a
week, and classification as a superfast exp. Any particular reason for the
name Navjeevan Exp.?

Vijay

From: Vicraj T. Thomas <vic@cs.email

Subject: This and That!

Date: 10 May 1991 15:48:00 -0500


vijayb@pk705vmg.email writes:
> ...
> Getting back to Vicraj's puzzle, the only reason I suggested the
> Godhra-Anand-Vadodara route was b'caus Vicraj had pointed out that his
> train went a FEW STATIONS ahead of Vadodara. Such a diversion would
> hold good only if the problem was in the Godhra-Nagda section, and so th
> train would have to go off the main line at Godhra, proceed towards
> Anand and then go back to Bombay via Vadodara again.
> Vicraj do you recall having passed thru' Vadodara again on your way back
> to Bombay?
>
> If the diversion was indeed via Nagda-Bhopal-Bhusaval-Jalgaon.......,
> it makes sense to get the train back to
> Bombay Central instead of VT, so that it is properly "set" for the next
> journey. Jalgaon-Surat-B'by Central would positively take more time tha
> Jalgaon-Dadar-B'by Central because of single track sections and reversal
> at Surat. Note that the reversal could be done at Udhna itself.
> Of course, this all depends on the traffic patterns that existed on the
> CR and WR routes that day, so that the journey via Surat might actually
> be faster b'caus of less conflicts on the Jalgaon-Surat stretch.
> ...

I am fairly certain that the detail in the puzzle about our train going upto
Vadodara and then going back (reversing) a few stations was correct. If it
helps any, this diversion added almost 24 hrs to our journey.

I will not be able to make the IRFCA shindig in July -- I need to work on
getting out of this place. I do hope one of the attendees writes up the
details of the bash and mails it to the group.

< Vicraj

From: Rajesh P. Halarnkar <rajesh_h1@verifone.email

Subject: Why are double headed trains limited to 21 carriages?

Date: 11 May 1991 20:29:00 -0500


I have a question for all railway buffs.

Single engined broad gauge passenger trains of the Indian railways typically
consist of 1 diesel engine (2500 HP) and 16 carriages. Very rarely there
will be 17 carriages.

Double headed passenger trains have two engines and 21 carriages. The
question that now arises is why 21. A double headed train should be capable
of 30 to 32 carriages. Is the number of carriages restricted due to

1. Inability of a double headed engine to pull more than 21 carriages.
This is not true as from personal experience I have seen a single diesel
pull 21 carriages. This was in August 1989. I was travelling from
Bangalore to Delhi by the Karnataka Express. This is a double headed 21
carriage train. At Bhopal the two diesel engines were replaced by a
single Electric engine. About 20 kms before Agra the Electric engine
failed. The train sat on the tracks for an hour before a single diesel
engine arrived. This was attached to the train and it pulled the entire
train including the failed electric engine right upto Delhi and it did
the distance in 4 hours.


2. Lack of platforms of sufficient lenght.
When double headed trains were first introduced the platforms were not
long enough then. It took a few years to extend the platforms. So this
is probably not a limiting condition.

3. Prevent the train lenght from exceeding the lenght of the normal siding.
Minimum lenght of a siding is 750m. This would mean that a 33 carriage
passenger train could be accomadated.

4. Excess locomotives as compared to carriages.
I don't know much about this.

5. Inability of the double headed engine to develop sufficient vaccum to
operate the brakes if the train lenght exceeds 21 carriages.
Freight trains, even those hauled by single engines do excceed this
lenght so this might not be a limiting condition either.

6. Higher speed can be acheived by using two engines.
This may be true especially of faster trains like the Tamilnadu Express.
But for a train like the Karnataka Express which takes 42 hours to cover
2000 kms ( average speed 48 km/hr) I don't know how much time is gained
by increasing the top speed when the average speed is so low.

These were all the possible reasons I could think of. It would sure be
enlightening if somebody could give the actual reason. Also about 18 months
ago 26 carriage trains were being mooted. Any idea what happenned.

From: C. S. Sudarshana Bhat <B536HIND@UTARLVM1.EMAIL

Subject: Double-headed trains!

Date: 12 May 1991 09:29:00 -0500


I think that the answer to Rajesh's puzzle lies in his first alternative
itself - of course, we had better wait till Vijay returns from his Commencement
for authoritativeness:-). Since Rajesh said that he has seen *single*-engined
(diesel) trains haul upto 21 carriages, I resume that the fact that there are
two engines in a train do not *necessarily* mean that both are active all the
time. Hence, the upper limit of a two-engined train = max. capacity of a
single diesel engine. Also, the second engines main function might be *just*
to haul the train through the mountaineous terrain, and *not* as an additional
means of increased train capacity. More from the horse's [Vijay :-)] mouth
later on this, I hope. Bye.

From: Sridhar Venkataraman <sridhar@enuxha.email

Subject: Re: Double-headed trains!

Date: 12 May 1991 08:33:00 -0500


Then isn't something with the optimal scheduling of the diesel locos.
For the Tamilnadu or the GT express, does a diesel engine need to be idle
except for the part of the journey from Nagpur to Itarsi which is the
ghat section. I am talking of the initial days when 2 diesel locos were
attached at Vijayawada and detached at Jhansi/Bina.

In my days of childhood I had heard that the power of the engines lay in
pushing from behind on the ghat sections rather than pulling from the front.
Well is it true?

Sridhar.

From: Ajai Banerji <A.AJAI@Macbeth.Email

Subject: Another puzzle

Date: 12 May 1991 18:12:00 -0500



It is nice to hear about a proposed IRFCA convention. Since I am at the
other end of the country, I may not be able to make it in person. Hope
someone will post details about the meeting.
This is what one can call the IIT-IIM puzzle:
There are 5 IITs existing at Bombay, Madras, Kanpur, Kharagpur and Delhi.
A 6th one will come up at Guwahati one day. If you see the 6C2 possible
combinations, you will find that there exist direct trains between all
possible pairs of these 6 cities (though admittedly some of them do not
run daily). Check for yourself.
There are 4 IIMs at Ahmedabad, Calcutta, Bangalore and Lucknow. A 5th
one will come up at Bhopal some day. Here, if you study the 5C2 possible
combinations, you will find that only ONE of the 10 possible pairs of
cities does not have a direct train.
Have a nice time figuring out which one it is:-)
-------

From: jis <jis@attunix.email

Subject: Re: Double-headed trains!

Date: 13 May 1991 07:58:00 -0500


"C. S. Sudarshana Bhat" writes:
> I think that the answer to Rajesh's puzzle lies in his first alternative
> itself - of course, we had better wait till Vijay returns from his Commencement
> for authoritativeness:-). Since Rajesh said that he has seen *single*-engined
> (diesel) trains haul upto 21 carriages, I resume that the fact that there are
> two engines in a train do not *necessarily* mean that both are active all the
> time. Hence, the upper limit of a two-engined train = max. capacity of a
> single diesel engine. Also, the second engines main function might be *just*
> to haul the train through the mountaineous terrain, and *not* as an additional
> means of increased train capacity. More from the horse's [Vijay :-)] mouth
> later on this, I hope. Bye.

As far as pulling 21 carriages by a single engine goes, afterall the
whole train is pulled into the station by a single diesel shunter
of lower horsepower than a WDM2 before the mainline engine arrives
from the loco shed to hitch on - so clearly a single engine can pull
all those carriages.

The main issue is - at what speed can it pull all those carriages.
If speed were not an issue it is very likely that a single diesel of
WDM2 or equivalent type could pull 30 or 40 carriages over flat
territory.

I suspect that when a train has two diesels both are always active.
Diesels cost a lot of money, and it would make very little business
sense to run an extra one idling all the way on a two day journey for
getting the train over a hill for a couple of hours.

Generally, in India trains are relatively power starved when compared
to trains in the west. This is not too bad because train speeds are
relatively low in India, and the power on the trains are adequate for
the booked speeds. It also saves fuel etc.

Just to throw in a comparison the Delhi - Calcutta Rajdhani covers
~900 miles in ~18 hours with three stops. It is pulled by a WAP-1
~4000HP. The New York - Chicago Lake Shore Limited covers ~900 miles
in ~19 hours with 17 stops. However, the Lake Shore spends a bit more
than an hour at Albany while the Boston section is attached/detached
so the real running time is 18 hours. the Lake Shore requires two F40s
~7000HP. The Rajdhani has ~20 coaches, the Lake Shore has 17 (at most
- that is the HEP limit). The Lake Shore also travels on essentially
flat territory, whereas the Rajdhani manages to climb a considerable
height between Gurpa and Gajhandi on the Grand Chord. Now what causes
this difference in need for power between these two trains?

The maximum allowed speed is 130kmh for the Rajdhani (or is it 120
these days?). It is 130 kmh most of the way for the Lake Shore (except
New York - Albany which has long stretches of 160 kmh, but the Lake
Shore does not really use this, it is booked at 130kmh).

The major difference is the greater number of stops on the Lake
Shore which means it has to have the power to quickly accelarate to
track speed to maintain schedule.

Moral of the story - another way that trains can be accelarated in
India is by providing more power to them. That way even more stops can
be added to the Superfast trains without slowing them down. The
downside of providing more power are: (i) More powerful trains
accelarate faster out of stations so the standard practice of getting
onto a train after it has started moving will have to be curtailed,
(ii) It will cost more in fuel and depriciation on additional
locomotives. So on the balance what IR is currently doing is probably
the most optimum for the situation.

Jishnu Mukerji
jis@attunix.email

From: aravind <aravind@vax135.email

Subject:

Date: 13 May 1991 17:47:00 -0500


Jishnu's post was extremely informative. Two add my $.0x worth, I
suspect that the mass of a coach in the West is considerably
higher than in India. Note that each coach is temperature
controlled, air conditioned, etc, here. The higher speeds
also require more *sustained* power, as was pointed out ...

aravind

From: C. S. Sudarshana Bhat <B536HIND@UTARLVM1.EMAIL

Subject: Unpatriotism!!! Or is it Impatriotism?

Date: 14 May 1991 10:28:00 -0500


Could anybody on the net suggest to me a nice book to read on Amtrak, with
info on the routes - other than the booklet they send out. Well, this is
not *strictly* on Indian Railways, but I hope you'll don't mind:-) :-).
Thanks. Please send replies to *me*, so as to save some bandwidth. Ciao.

From: jis <jis@attunix.email

Subject: This and that

Date: 14 May 1991 17:17:00 -0500


aravind@vax135.email writes:
>
> Jishnu's post was extremely informative. Two add my $.0x worth, I
> suspect that the mass of a coach in the West is considerably
> higher than in India. Note that each coach is temperature
> controlled, air conditioned, etc, here. The higher speeds
> also require more *sustained* power, as was pointed out ...

Well that was part of the reason that I picked the Rajdhani as an
example because it is fully air-conditioned, and carries three or four
generator/baggage cars to power all that equipment. On Amtrak trains
train hotel power is delivered by the HEP generator on the locomotive.

A few other differences that occured to me after I sent that message
are:

(i) The existence of CTC (Centralized Traffic Control) allows for
tighter scheduling on Amtrak. India is slowly moving in the direction
of CTC.

(ii) Tracks laid with heavier rail in USA - in principle that should
cause less loss of energy due to deformation of track structure when a
train runs on the track, and hence reduce the amount of power needed
to haul a train.

(iii) Standard American coaches are 85' long standard Indian ones are
20ms (I think, correct me if I am wrong). Off the top of my head I
don't know what the weight difference is. I can dig up the weights of
the Amtrak coaches easily. Can anyone come up with the weights of the
Rajdhani coaches? Then we can compare.

Unless this sort of comparative analysis is of general interest in this
mailing list let us take this discussion off-line.

I have often fantasized about what it would be like to be travelling in
a doubledecker Superliner observation lounge/cafe up Bhore Ghat, or on
the Grand Chord between Gaya and Dhanbad if that were ever possible.

Jishnu.
jis@attunix.email

From: Amitabha Mukerjee <amit@cs.email

Subject: Doubledecker Superliners

Date: 14 May 1991 18:50:00 -0500


jis@attunix.email writes:
>
> I have often fantasized about what it would be like to be travelling in
> a doubledecker Superliner observation lounge/cafe up Bhore Ghat, or on
> the Grand Chord between Gaya and Dhanbad if that were ever possible.

The more I travel in airconditioned coaches, the more left out I feel
from the entirety of the experience. The best part of Superliner
coach travel is to go downstairs and surreptitiously open the window
that all the doors have, and THEN you can begin to feel the breeze and
smell the hay drying in the fields and hear the echoes of the engine
as it is crossing a river. From upstairs, there is the benefit of
height, but this is not sufficient compensation, especially in
mountain terrain like the Ghats. (BTW, is the little train off
Matheran still operative?)

If all one wants to do is see nice scenery, one may as well go to an
IMAX theater, where they do put you in the best seat and cut out all
the dull stuff. Seeing the scenery through the double-layered tinted
glass just does not seem interesting enough for me; on Amtrak trains,
I find it much more interesting to talk to people, particularly the
conductors when they are sitting around in the lounge.

At the cost of sounding elitist, I think one of the best modes of
travel in the world is still standard first class in India, where you
can open the windows. You cant do this in all of Europe (incl.
Eastern Europe) and Japan. The only trains I have seen in Mexico did
not have openable windows, though I think there are some. I am sure
some parts of Africa still have trains like this, and a long time ago
I had travelled from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok on a train where the
windows could be opened. But in general, the breed of trains where
you can legally open windows is rapidly diminishing all over the
world, and will soon go the way of the much lamented steam engine.

amit mukerjee

"The moon is redundant. Let's blow it up and smoothen out the
oceans." - Wall Street Journal news article

From: vengy <vengy@garnet.email

Subject: Re: Unpatriotism!!! Or is it Impatriotism?

Date: 15 May 1991 08:26:00 -0500


Hi: Regarding books on AMTRAK, the best entertaining book a la Paul Theroux
and the Great Railway Bazaar is by Terry Pindell, Making Tracks-an American
rail odyssey, Grove Weidenfeld, 1990. The author travels on various amtrak
routes, meets people, and writes about the history of the various railroad
companies which were prevalent in the states. Very good back. He also
has a list of books you might want to look at. This country had probably
the world's best passenger rail network. There are a number of coffee-table
books about them. I would suggest "the History of American Railroads" by
J.B. Hollingsworth, Exeter Books, NY, 1983, "All aboard! the golden age of
American rail travel" ed. Bill Yenne, Brompton Books, Greenwich, CT, 1989.
A really interesting book is "The Trains We Rode", two volumes, by Lucius
Beebe and Charles Clegg, Howell-North Books, Berkeley, CA., 1966. This
huge book is filled with black and white photographs, really excellant
books. One of the best rail books I have read is "A great and shining
road" by John Hoyt Williams, Times Books, NY, 1988, about the
building of the transcontinental railroad.
Enjoy and happy reading!
Vengu

From: vijayb <vijayb@pk705vmg.email

Subject: This and That!

Date: 15 May 1991 13:29:00 -0500


Hi Folks,

I'm back after my fun-filled four days of freak-out (note the alliteration)
during my graduation trip.

Double diesel engines, etc.:-
-----------------------
Here is my 2-bits (bytes:-) ) worth of info. According to what I had read
in some paper, a few years back, the reason for limiting the train length to
21 coaches is to maintain some set safety standards on Indian tracks. I guess
this relates to both the strength of the standard hook-type couplings used on
Indian coaches, as well as the minimization of derailments in curved and
other "nasty" stretches. Of course, the available power with current locos.
plays an important role. Other factors could be the optimum placement
of the pantry car w.r.t. the entire train as also the distance of the guard
from the driver. In case of fully ACed trains such as the Rajdhani, the
location of the generator car might also govern the length.

You might have come across goods trains comprised just of BOX-type wagons
(high-sides, no roof). Such trains are very common in the Grand Chord section
and run as "Crack" or "Link" trains. You may have noticed that this set of
rolling stock uses different couplers (the "pin" type) which are designed to
operate in such extreme conditions.

Double-diesel units work in synchronism; they are electrically/mechanically
coupled to each other and there is no driver present in the second loco. So
the resultant power should be nearly twice that of a single loco.

The WAP-1 is able to pull an 18-coach Rajdhani with a max. speed of 120
kmph. The WAP-1 not only has a higher hp. than the WAM-4 (~4000 hp.) but also
fabricated bogies for better braking power. In addition, the Rajdhani coaches
have air-brakes.

Now that Jishnu mentions the gradient between Gajhandi and Gurpa,
I am not surprised that the Dn. Rajdhani takes ~25 mts. extra between Dhanbad
and Mughal Sarai when compared to the Up train.

IIM puzzle
-----------
The only pair of points not directly linked to each other, is
Luckow-Bangalore, although I suspect that there might be some quota for
Bangalore passengers on the Lucknow-Madras exp., or the Rapti Sagar Exp.

IRFCA get-together
------------------
I was talking to Ajai yesterday, and he has expressed his desire to come
all the way from California to New Jersey to be part of this get-together.
Bravo, Ajai! This increases the no. of interested members to six. How about
some more positive responses?


Vijay

From: C. S. Sudarshana Bhat <B536HIND@UTARLVM1.EMAIL

Subject: Amtraks

Date: 15 May 1991 12:28:00 -0500


Especially for you, Vengy! You might feel amused/amazed (don't know what!)
to know that yesterday I had been to the Arlington Public Library and the only
book on Amtrak that I could lay my hands on, was the *very* one you had
suggested first - the one by Terry Pindell. Will be delving into the shelves
more rigorously the next time I go there. Bye.

From: jis <jis@attunix.email

Subject: Re: Unpatriotism!!! Or is it Impatriotism?

Date: 16 May 1991 08:53:00 -0500


For a more technical presentation on Amtrak try:

Amtrak - The US National Railroad Passenger Corporation, by R.
Bradley, Sterling Publishing Co., ISBN 0-7137-1718-1.

Also take a look at the May '91 issue of Trains. It is a special on
Amtrak's 20th anniversary.

Other books that you may want to look for are:

Journey to Amtrak. This book presents the history of the creation of
Amtrak.

Amtrak at Milepost 10. The first ten years of Amtrak.

Jishnu Mukerji
jis@attunix.email

From: jis <jis@attunix.email

Subject: This and That!

Date: 16 May 1991 13:51:00 -0500


vijayb@pk705vmg.email writes:
> Double diesel engines, etc.:-
> -----------------------
> Here is my 2-bits (bytes:-) ) worth of info. According to what I had read
> in some paper, a few years back, the reason for limiting the train length to
> 21 coaches is to maintain some set safety standards on Indian tracks. I guess
> this relates to both the strength of the standard hook-type couplings used on
> Indian coaches, as well as the minimization of derailments in curved and
> other "nasty" stretches.

That is a good point. The dynamics of the combination of hook-chain
couplers and buffers is quite different from those of automatic center
couplers. Specially, center couplers of the "tight-lock" variety are
supposed to be much safer in collisions and derailments than
hook-chain couplers, because it prevents the carriages from separating
and getting thrown about in different directions.

> Of course, the available power with current locos.
> plays an important role. Other factors could be the optimum placement
> of the pantry car w.r.t. the entire train as also the distance of the guard
> from the driver. In case of fully ACed trains such as the Rajdhani, the
> location of the generator car might also govern the length.

The last time that I saw a 18 car Rajdhani it looked like they simply
took two nine car Rajdhanis and coupled them together end to end. The
train had a generator car right in the middle of the train and it had
two pantry cars, one in each half of the train. Is this practice still
followed or is something done with a little more finesse?

> You might have come across goods trains comprised just of BOX-type wagons
> (high-sides, no roof). Such trains are very common in the Grand Chord section
> and run as "Crack" or "Link" trains. You may have noticed that this set of
> rolling stock uses different couplers (the "pin" type) which are designed to
> operate in such extreme conditions.

The couplers that I saw on the BOX and BOBS wagons looked very similar
to the standard knuckle type center couplers that are used in USA. Are
those couplers called "pin" type couplers? Also, I noticed that most
diesel and electric locomotives in India have transition couplers,
i.e. couplers that can either be used as hook-chain coupler or as a
knuckle type center coupler.

> Double-diesel units work in synchronism; they are electrically/mechanically
> coupled to each other and there is no driver present in the second loco. So
> the resultant power should be nearly twice that of a single loco.
>
> The WAP-1 is able to pull an 18-coach Rajdhani with a max. speed of 120
> kmph. The WAP-1 not only has a higher hp. than the WAM-4 (~4000 hp.) but also
> fabricated bogies for better braking power. In addition, the Rajdhani coaches
> have air-brakes.

I thought the main differences in the bogies of WAP-1 and WAM-4 were
to obtain better riding characteristics at higher speeds on the WAP-1.
How is the braking system different on the WAP-1/3 from the one on
WAM-4. Do they have additional disk brakes or do they still depend
wholly on tire-shoe brakes? I noticed that the new Rajdhani coaches
have air brakes, but forgot to check whether any brake hardware other
than shoe on tire is used. In the USA Amtrak uniformly uses both
shoe on tire and disk brakes on all (new) passenger cars.

> IRFCA get-together
> ------------------
> I was talking to Ajai yesterday, and he has expressed his desire to come
> all the way from California to New Jersey to be part of this get-together.
> Bravo, Ajai! This increases the no. of interested members to six. How about
> some more positive responses?
>
>
> Vijay

I will join the get together in New Jersey unless some untoward event
intervenes!

Jishnu Mukerji
jis@attunix.email

From: vijayb <vijayb@pk705vmg.email

Subject:

Date: 17 May 1991 11:44:00 -0500


Hi,

In reply to Jishnu's mail:

>took two nine car Rajdhanis and coupled them together end to end. The
>train had a generator car right in the middle of the train and it had
>two pantry cars, one in each half of the train. Is this practice still
>followed or is something done with a little more finesse?

As far as I know, the Rajdhani Exp. is still organized as above. The
reason for having a generator car in the middle is to minimize the
coach- generator-car distance, for maintaining adequate air-conditioni
ng inside the coaches, IMHO.

How well are our state capitals connected (including Delhi)?
-------------------------------------------------------------
This is something which I have always pondered about in my spare time
The idea is to find out how many pairs of state capitals exist such that
there is a direct train between the two cities. Some state capitals
are not even on the rail map, and so we could use a "substitute" city.
Specifically, the cities that need to be considered are as follows:-

Jammu (for Srinagar), Chandigarh, Kalka (for Simla), Delhi,
Jaipur, Lucknow, Patna, Calcutta, Guwahati (for whole of Assam),
Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Ahmedabad, Bombay, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Madras,
Trivandrum

Will post my descrpition in a few days. One can immediately see that
Jaipur is severly restricted b'caus it is not even on the BG map.
Hopefully, the MG-to-BG conversion of Sawai Madhopur - Jaipur will
remedy this.

Regards,
Vijay

From: C. S. Sudarshana Bhat <B536HIND@UTARLVM1.EMAIL

Subject: Trains in India vs. the US

Date: 17 May 1991 10:33:00 -0500


During the last few days (fortnight, to be precise), I have been doing some
very active research into the Amtrak and also, trains in other countries.
While this was, in the beginning, going astray from what the IRFCA has in
its charter :-), I have gotten onto a tack which might lead me back, namely
chauvinism for the Indian Railways inasmuch as the number of trains on a
route is concerned.

As of now, I am reasonably sure of Amtrak *alone*, and maybe someone else
could come up with figures for other countries. I realized that in the
Amtrak system, on any given link, there is *usually* *just* one train in one
direction. Let me explain it in this manner. Take the Albany Chicago section.
There is just one train which runs that route. At Albany though, it
bifurcates - one split going to NY and the other to Boston. In the other
direction, the trains from Boston and NY join at Albany. So, on the Albany-
Chicago segment, there is *only one* (!!!!!!!) train per direction per day!!
Contrast this, folks, with the (is it??) Mughalsarai-New Delhi stretch where
there is reputedly one train every twenty minutes!! It is very peculiar to
think of a train journey where your train will not pass another train at any
siding/platform at a station enroute, or that you'll confront :-) only one
train coming at you from the opposite direction per day(other than freight
trains, if any, of course!). And here is where one point gets peculiar:
Why is it that the Indian Railways is not making any profit? It is not
lack of patrons, I opine, since almost all trains are chockful of surging
humanity. I prefer to believe that not all the passengers tend to follow
the philosophy of "pay per ride":-) :-) :-), that being the case for the
Bombay local trains at least. Maybe an ideal environment might result in
each traveller pitching in his/her mite for making use of the trains and
resolve this problem. But will such a one ever be attained...???

One more observation. Somebody - I believ it was Jishnu - was comparing
the Lake Shore with the Rajdhani, in terms of speed and distances. But
I'm afraid he missed a vital point. In India, there is a station every
8-10 km (roughly), and though one might say that the train's capable speed
still does not drop, there is an obligation on the part of the railways
that the train speed do not attain really high levels in the vicinity of the
stations - I, for one, cannot imagine a train going through a station platform
full of people [even partly empty :-)], at 60mph, let alone 100mph...
In the US (mind you, I am yet to travel with Amtrak), I believe that the
stations in the schedule are the only stations, and the trains stop at all of
them anyway:-) :-). There is a margin of about 60 miles between stations (at
an average) if you discount the suburban [even they are urban in this country
:-) :-)] like Newark, Poughkeepsie [yo, Vijay :-) :-)]. Case in point is the
Chicago-Albany-NY route. Distance-959 miles. Stations-19. Average distance
between stations-50.5miles. So there is ample scope for the train to travel
at the booked speed [assuming that what I understand by the word "booked" is
what it really stands for:-) :-) = top speed] for 900 out of those 959 miles,
even if there is a provision for acceleration and deceleration - about 1.5
miles per operation. This sort of opportunity does *not* exist for Indian
trains, what with the heavy demand on the route and overtaking manoeuvers
etc., does it?? Well, no wonder the US trains have a greater average speed
than the Indian ones. But where is the freedom to relax with >=0.5 of your
body hanging out of the door...???? The chance of trying to catch up with an
acceleratning train as it leaves the platform [point already made by someone
:-) :-)]? Only in India, I guess, or does one get it in Pakistan/Nepal/
Bangladesh too...??? I rest my case... and my fingers too [in just a little
while:-) :-)].

On another note, do trains in the US take the right lane as opposed to the
left lane in India? Or is it more usual for the US to have only one lane
in most parts? [Maybe I'm wrong about Indian trains being on the left, but
I *think* I'm right:-) :-) :-)]. Extending the question, what about trains
in other countries - Malaysia, Korea, Japan, Pakistan, South Africa [I bet
none of you has travelled by the Blue Train, unless you have a US Passport:-)
:-) :-)], England etc.??

Some interesting books I've picked up from the library are:
The Streamline Era - Reed, Robert C.: Has N photos (haven't read it yet!)
Portrait of a Silver Lady - MacGregor, Bruce A.: ditto!!!
World Atlas of Railways - Nock, O. S.: Has a section on Great Expresses and
the Rajdhani figures in it. Unfortunately this is a very
old edition (1978) and lots of updates must have been
made. There is a section on Railway Systems which has
(hold your breath) Saudi Arabia (under Middle East)
clubbed with India, and Pakistan shares a page with China!
Taiwan, the Koreas and the like!!! Then, there is a
nice country comparison page which lists out the area,
population, track miles, passenger miles etc. (must be
*really* antiquated insofar as India is concerned, for
sure, what with the major changes in population!!!)
Making Tracks - Pindell, Terry: A nice book, though the details about the
railways tend to get boring sometimes - makes me wish
that I had a similar book on India, which I could have
related to much better.

There are a couple of others I've borrowed, but they are at home and the
titles and authors I don't remember!!

I hope this invites more discussions on the Indian Railways vis-a-vis those
in other countries - get patriotic, guys/gals!!!!!

From: jis <jis@attunix.email

Subject: Trains in India vs. the US

Date: 17 May 1991 15:09:00 -0500


In what follows I have picked up selected postions of Sudarshana
Bhat's message and responded to them. I have tried to include all
context as far as I could. So here goes

"C. S. Sudarshana Bhat" writes:
> During the last few days (fortnight, to be precise), I have been doing some
> very active research into the Amtrak and also, trains in other countries.
> While this was, in the beginning, going astray from what the IRFCA has in
> its charter :-), I have gotten onto a tack which might lead me back, namely
> chauvinism for the Indian Railways inasmuch as the number of trains on a
> route is concerned.
>
> As of now, I am reasonably sure of Amtrak *alone*, and maybe someone else
> could come up with figures for other countries. I realized that in the
> Amtrak system, on any given link, there is *usually* *just* one train in one
> direction. Let me explain it in this manner. Take the Albany Chicago section.
> There is just one train which runs that route. At Albany though, it
> bifurcates - one split going to NY and the other to Boston. In the other
> direction, the trains from Boston and NY join at Albany. So, on the Albany-
> Chicago segment, there is *only one* (!!!!!!!) train per direction per day!!

Actually that statement is true only for the Buffalo-Chicago segment.
There are three or four pairs of trains between Albany and Buffalo.
But in general your observation is correct on most long distance
routes in the Amtrak system. However, even on the Amtrak system
multiple trains run each day between Boston, New York, Washington DC
and Florida, Los Angeles and San Diego, Oakland and Bakersfield, and a
whole bunh of places and Chicago.

> Why is it that the Indian Railways is not making any profit? It is not
> lack of patrons, I opine, since almost all trains are chockful of surging
> humanity. I prefer to believe that not all the passengers tend to follow
> the philosophy of "pay per ride":-) :-) :-), that being the case for the
> Bombay local trains at least. Maybe an ideal environment might result in
> each traveller pitching in his/her mite for making use of the trains and
> resolve this problem. But will such a one ever be attained...???

The primary reason for lack of profitability of the passenger
operations of IR is that fares are set at a level that is below what
is necessary to recover even the short term avoidable cost of running
the train, given the number of ticketed riders that ride the train. Note
that there is nothing fundamentally wrong with a policy that says
that providing affordable means of transportation to poor people is
important and therefore fares will be set at such a level, and the
loss will be subsidized - in this case with income from freight
revenues.

In a recent talk on C-SPAN Amtrak's Chairman Graham Claytor was asked
if he was going to raise fares to make Amtrak profitable. His answer
was that Amtrak uses a cost recovery maximization model to set fares.
If the model works right then in theory either raising or lowering
fares will cause net revenues to decline. So the business of setting
fares is not as simple as it would seem at first blush.

> One more observation. Somebody - I believ it was Jishnu - was comparing
> the Lake Shore with the Rajdhani, in terms of speed and distances. But
> I'm afraid he missed a vital point. In India, there is a station every
> 8-10 km (roughly), and though one might say that the train's capable speed
> still does not drop, there is an obligation on the part of the railways
> that the train speed do not attain really high levels in the vicinity of the
> stations - I, for one, cannot imagine a train going through a station platform
> full of people [even partly empty :-)], at 60mph, let alone 100mph...
> In the US (mind you, I am yet to travel with Amtrak), I believe that the
> stations in the schedule are the only stations, and the trains stop at all of
> them anyway:-) :-). There is a margin of about 60 miles between stations (at
> an average) if you discount the suburban [even they are urban in this country
> :-) :-)] like Newark, Poughkeepsie [yo, Vijay :-) :-)]. Case in point is the
> Chicago-Albany-NY route. Distance-959 miles. Stations-19. Average distance
> between stations-50.5miles. So there is ample scope for the train to travel
> at the booked speed [assuming that what I understand by the word "booked" is
> what it really stands for:-) :-) = top speed] for 900 out of those 959 miles,
> even if there is a provision for acceleration and deceleration - about 1.5
> miles per operation. This sort of opportunity does *not* exist for Indian
> trains, what with the heavy demand on the route and overtaking manoeuvers
> etc., does it??

Well, since I am being accused of missing a *vital* point I guess I
have to say something in my defence - don't I?:-)

Let me begin by stating that I have seen the Calcutta Rajdhani blast
though Panagargh station (between Asansol and Barddhaman) with a
platform full of passengers waiting for another train, blowing its
whistle at full tilt, at its full 120kph; and Panagargh isn't exactly
a typical small wayside station either! Actually it was a very
exhilerating sight coming to think of it! While travelling by Rajdhani
I have not noticed it slowing down for each station, so your assertion
about railway's obligation to slow down is probably incorrect.

The reason that you think that that is a vital point is because you
haven't traveled on Amtrak yet. Amtrak trains are notorious for slow
running over significant distances because of bad tracks or because a
freight interference (i.e. a freight train has been given clearance
ahead of it) etc. On the other hand Rajdhani in India does not slow
down from its 120kph except while passing through certain large
stations. For those reasons I thought that it was a wash, and that
point isn't vital, and I still continue to think so.

However, there is an associated vital point that does impact the
average speed of trains. Goods trains in India travel at a much slower
speed than those in the USA. This makes it harder to run fast
passenger trains in India than here. Also lack of bidirectional
signalling (see below) in India causes additional delays to passenger
trains.

As far as the Chicago Albany New York route goes, the Lake Shore Ltd.
spends about 2.5 hrs. of its 19 hours not running at all - i.e.
at 0mph. The technical term for that is "dwell time" i.e. time
spent standing at stations. So it basically has to cover the 959 miles
in 16.5hrs including starting and stopping 19 times, slow running
around big cities and switching tracks back and forth umpteen times.
No wonder it needs all that extra power.

> On another note, do trains in the US take the right lane as opposed to the
> left lane in India? Or is it more usual for the US to have only one lane
> in most parts? [Maybe I'm wrong about Indian trains being on the left, but
> I *think* I'm right:-) :-) :-)].

Nominally the answer is yes, they travel on the right track. However,
Most trunk lines in the USA operate under CTC (Centralized Traffic
Control). In those sections where there are multiple tracks, most if
not all of the tracks are bidirectional, i.e. trains travelling in
either direction can use any of the tracks. The CTC dispatcher simply
picks whatever track happens to be free and assigns the train to it.
So for example while travelling on our old favorite example the Lake
Shore Ltd. you might find yourself on the left track for a while and
then on the right track and then back again on the left. The
changeover from one track to the other requires the train to slow down
to 50MPH to negotiate the high speed crossovers. The reason for these
frequent changes of track is to speed the Ltd. on its way through a
maze of slower freight trains travelling in either direction. In
non-CTC and non-bidirectional areas trains travel on the right in USA
and Canada.

There are certain tracks in India that are bidirectional, e.g. the
third track on the Howrah-Burdwan Chord, and also the third track
between Shantragacchi and Panskura between Howrah and Kharagpur on the
SE Rly.

> Extending the question, what about trains
> in other countries - Malaysia, Korea, Japan, Pakistan, South Africa [I bet
> none of you has travelled by the Blue Train, unless you have a US Passport:-)
> :-) :-)], England etc.??

Lets see - England is left, Japan is left (I think), Pakistan is left,
South Africa is left. Don't know about Malaysia and Korea. In Europe
there some curiosities like between Belgium and Netherlands in one
trains travel on the left and the other on the right (I forget which
is which). In any event, when you cros the border between the two
countries at Roosendahl,the tracks actually cross over to make the
left track the right track and vice versa!

Jishnu.

From: vengy <vengy@garnet.email

Subject: Re: Trains in India vs. the US

Date: 17 May 1991 11:54:00 -0500


I don't believe it is right to compare amtrak with Indian railways in terms
of frequency, etc. Train travel is not the major mode of transportation in
this country (and has not been for almost three decades). Amtrak is only
a meager skeleton of the railroads that existed back in the glory days of
American railroading. I am, of course, referring only to passenger
trains. If you really want to compare passenger traffic, you should compare
with american passenger railroads in the twenties, thirties, forties and
even the fiftees. You say there is only one train between Chicago and
Buffalo(?) per day. Consider the fact that in the late forties there were
over thirty trains between los angeles and san franciso, to give an
example. Numerous other examples can be given. The standards, luxury,
efficiency of the name trains like the old super chief, empire builder,
city of san francisco, the golden state, coast daylight, etc. have yet
to be matched. Pindell`s book is very, very interesting. It means a lot
more to a south indian who has lived here for a long long time than
discussions on north indian routes between places I have never even heard
of! It has a lot of interesting historical and other details. A definitely
great read!
These are just my opinions and are not meant to hurt anyone's sensibilities
or nationalistic sentiments
Vengu

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