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From: SC10000 <SC10%NEMOMUS.BITNET@ricevm1.email

Subject:

Date: 18 Sep 1989 19:51:00 -0500


Hi Folks:

Did you know that the Eastern Railway charges the same fare between
Mughal Sarai and Asansol whether you travel via the main line or the
grand chord? However the Southern railway charges a higher fare for the
extra 64 kms travelled on the Villupuram-Tiruchi main line as compared
to the chord line. (BTW, can somebody tell me the extra length of the
main line compared to the grand chord between M'sarai and S'rampur; I
seem to remember a figure of 150 kms).

Did you know that the Amritsar-Howrah Mail also known as the Punjab Mail
commands a lot of respect from the commuters on the M'sarai-Patna-Howrah
line? This train for some mysterious reason takes(?) the Burddhaman-
Howrah main line even though it ignores Bandel Jn.

Did you know that in A.P. while travelling on the Howrah-Madras line
(preferably by the Hwh-Mas mail) one can get delicious "jidipappu" (as
it is known in Telugu) at smaller stations? The jidipappu are fresh,
unpeeled cashew-nuts and are really tasty.

Did you know that diesel engines are really diesel-electric engines? The
engine is a diesel power generator on wheels.

Did you know that in coal-poor countries (Pakistan is an example) many
steam engines are oil-fired as opposed to being coal-fired?

Did you know that the Indian Railways (before partition) and the
Pakistan Railways (today) include(d) Zahedan in Iran? Zahedan is many
hundred miles from the nearest Iranian Railways line. A line runs from
Quetta to Zahedan via the bleak and isolated regions of Baluchistan.

Did you know that the most prestigious train in the Republic of South
Africa is "The Blue Train" running from Cape Town to Johannesberg. Not
known for its speed, it is famous for its service. Of course, in keeping
with South Africa's policy the train is reserved for whites only.

Did you know that there is a coast to coast train in Australia running
from Sydney to Perth? This train is called "The Indian-Pacific" and is
supposedly quite popular. The train traverses the famous "straight"
section (which Vijay mentioned before) on the Nullarbor plain.

Istanbul, Turkey has two stations; Uskudar in Europe and Haydarpasa in
Asia.

The trans-Europe Paris to Vienna express whizzes across the nation of
Lichtenstein in ten minutes without as much as pausing!

That's all for now, Kumar

From: Vijay Balasubramanian <vbs@silly.email

Subject: The Brahmaputra Exp.

Date: 19 Sep 1989 10:18:00 -0500


Hi there!

Introducing new trains coupled with altering existing train schedules
has always been one of my favorite time-table activities.
Whenever I introduce a new train (which by pure coincidence(???) is somehow
associated with either Bombay or Varanasi, though not always), I make sure
that I "supply" all the relevant details, such as train name, color, no. of
coaches, frequency (days per week), halts, approx. time
at halts, facilities (AC service, pantry car service, etc.), and so on.

Before expressing my views on Kumar's "babies", let me familiarize you with
my favorite thought train (I have often imagined myself traveling in this
train between Bombay and Varanasi):

(WARNING: What follows is a train-nut's exotic journey into fantasy)

1. Name:
Brahmaputra Exp.: Bombay V.T. - Guwahati - Dibrugarh Town
----------------- --------------------
B.G. Exp. M.G. Exp.

Introduced around 1980.

2. Status: Superfast (only B.G. Exp.), completely vestibuled and reserved

3. Color: White and Red (same as the Deluxe Exp., when it had colored rakes)

4. No. of coaches: B.G. Exp.: 21 between Bombay and Patna
13 between Patna and Guwahati
M.G. Exp.: 12

5. Halts: B.G. Exp - Bombay V.T. -> Dadar (Up. dirn. only), Bhusaval,
Jabalpur, Allahabad, Varanasi, Patna, Bhagalpur,
Malda Town, New Jalpaiguri, New Bongaigaon <- Guwahati

M.G. Exp. - Guwahati -> Lumbding, Dimapur, Mariani, Tinsukia <-
Dibrugarh Town

Dadar and Dimapur are recent halts.

6. Approx. time schedule for B.G. Exp. (sorry for testing your patience!)

Dn. Up
Kms. Ex. | /-\
Bombay V.T. \_/ Stations |
------------------------------------------------
. 10 00 d Bombay V.T. a 15 50

9 ... a Dadar d 15 36
... d a 15 33

445 16 25 a Bhusaval d 9 20
16 40 d a 9 05

991 23 07 a Jabalpur d 2 25
23 15 d a 2 17

1360 4 00 a Allahabad d 21 47
4 20 d a 21 30

1496 6 10 a Varanasi d 19 42
6 22 d a 19 30

1725 ** 9 20 a Patna d 16 25**
9 40 d a 16 05

1947 13 30 a Bhagalpur d 12 28
13 37 d a 12 21

2126 16 50 a Malda Town d 9 11
16 55 d a 9 05

2360 20 30 a New Jalpaiguri d 5 22
20 40 d a 5 12

2612 1 30 a New Bongaigaon d 0 25
1 35 d a 0 20

2784 4 20 a Guwahati d 21 45


** 8 coaches get attached/detached at Patna. These coaches include one AC
2-tier sleeper, one AC Chair Car, one Pantry Car, one luggage-cum-3-tier sleeper
(the rest are all 3-tier sleeper coaches).

The remaining 13 coaches go all the way till Guwahati. These include one
AC 2-tier sleeper, two first class coaches, one Pantry Car, two
luggage-cum-3-tier sleepers (the rest are all 3-tier sleepers).


7. Purpose: provides direct, fast service between Bombay and Assam, besides
connecting other important cities such as Jabalpur, Allahabad,
Varanasi, Patna, and Jalpaiguri.


8. Degree of prestige: Is the fastest train in its route, except for the small
section between Naini and Allahabad, where the
Rajdhani Exp. takes over.

Has an average speed of around 66 kmph. between Bombay and Guwahati;
has a higher average speed of around 73 kmph. between Bombay and Patna.

Has a reasonably high average inter-halt distance of around 280 km.

IGNORES (reasonably) important halts such as Manmad, Itarsi, Satna,
Mughal Sarai, Jamalpur, New Coochbehar and Rangiya among others.

Overtakes the superfast Avadh Assam Exp. (Delhi-Guwahati) in the
Malda Town-Guwahati section, the superfast Kanchenjunga Exp. (Howrah-Guwahati)
near Guwahati, the fast Bombay-Varanasi/Faizabad Exp. in the
Itarsi-Allahabad section, and other trains such as the Varanasi-Dadar Exp.,
and the Varanasi-Sealdah Exp. (the "restricted" version of the extinct Upper
India Exp.).


9. Frequency: tri-weekly ex. Bombay V.T. on Mon., Wed., and Sat.
ex. Guwahati on " " and "


10. Locomotives used: It is hauled by two WCAM-1 AC-DC Electric Locomotives
between Bombay V.T. and Bhusaval. The Dn. train has
technical halts at Kasara and Igatpuri, where additional engines get
attached and detached, respectively, in order to provide a "push"-tractive
effort needed to encounter the steep Ghat inclines. At Igatpuri, the
engine pulls down its DC pantograph and raises the AC one.

The Up. train, however, does not stop at Igatpuri and Kasara. The
change of pantographs is accompalished while the train is still in motion; for
sometime, the train runs on its own momentum (similar to what Kumar described
about the Train-a-Vitesse Grande (TGV)). In fact, most of the trains in the
Bombay Central - Vadodara section do run on their own momentum thru' Virar
(the WCAM-1 engines change pantographs), where the traction changes between
DC and AC. In contrast to this, all trains (except a few of my own!) change
electric locomotives at Igatpuri.

The 21-coach train is hauled by two WDM-2 diesel-electric
locomotives (I'll talk about these locomotives in detail, later) between
Bhusaval and Patna. Hence, the train structure is similar to the TN exp. or
the GT Exp. between the above stations. The train changes directions at
Allahabad.

Patna is where 8 of the coaches get cut-off, and the twin diesel unit
is replace by a solitary WDM-2.


11. Route: Bombay V.T.-Igatpuri-Nasik Rd.-Manmad-Bhusaval-Khandwa-Itarsi-
Jabalpur-Katni-Satna-Allahabad-Bhadohi-Varanasi-Mughal Sarai-Buxar-
Patna-Kiul-Jamalpur-Bhagalpur-Sahibganj-Barharwa-New Farakka-Malda
Town-Kishanganj-New Jalpaiguri-New Coochbehar-New Bongaigaon-
Rangiya-Guwahati (ignores most of these stops, of course)



This is where I get off the line. But I'll be back! Comments about the
beauty(?), I described above, are most welcome.


With regards,

Vijay

From: SC10000 <SC10%NEMOMUS.BITNET@ricevm1.email

Subject:

Date: 19 Sep 1989 18:42:00 -0500


Hi folks, just read Vijay's Bramhaputra express. Isn't the Bramhaputra
somewhat slower east of Patna than to its west? Is it because of single
line sections? Also, I noticed that the Bramhaputra hasn't been given
much "making up time" leeway; for example it is scheduled to take nearly
the same time going from Bombay to Bhusaval as it is in the other
direction. Won't this pose a problem? This was a problem with the 29.5
hr run of the TN express; it invariably used to be 60-90 mts. late.
One other minor inconvenience is to B'bay-Darjeeling passengers; an
overnight stay at New Jalpaiguri seems to be necessary. The timings at
most of the other important cities seem fine. I don't recollect a halt
between Bhusaval and Jabalpore; this seems a long run. My concern is
with 3-tier passengers having to go without water etc. considering the
inefficiency of the railway staff providing water etc. Maybe a
catering/technical halt at Itarsi may help this problem. (I still
remember my solo journey on the Mas-Hwh Coromandel express where at
the end of a non-stop 7 hr. run from Vijayawada hordes of passengers
descended on the few water fountains at Waltair; I opted for a cool
drink of buttermilk forgetting that I was in Andhra. Guess what!!)

Which railway is going to take up catering responsibilities on the
Brahmaputra; the Central or the Northeast Frontier?

A correction regarding my Delhi-Secunderabad Salarjung Express; it
stops at Khandwa, not Nagda. Also it should really terminate at
Kacheguda the main MG station in the Hyderabad area, but I decided to
run it to Secunderabad in case people want to change to BG trains.

Kumar

From: Vijay Balasubramanian <vbs@silly.email

Subject:

Date: 21 Sep 1989 20:34:00 -0500




Hi IRFCAites!

Please welcome my friend, Mr. Rabindra Roy (roy@bacg.email.
My acknowledgements to Dheeraj for putting him on our mailing list.
Rob, as he is popularly known,
is also a Ph.D. candidate in the ECE Dept. at the Univ. of Illinois, and,
in fact, is in the same group (Computer Systems Group) as mine. He is
basically from Sahibganj, Bihar, and probably knows all about the activity
of the Tinsukia Mail and the now extinct Upper India "loop" Exp. around that
area. We hope he has some interesting stories up his sleeve!

Speaking of stories, we still have to hear from Arun, Sridhar and Dhrubes.
I am aware of the fact that semester times are busy times, to repeat a cliche,
but it surely would not be time-consuming to post at least a few lines
every now and then. This way we get to know your side of the story too!


With that, let me get back to my usual IRFCA rambling....

Kumar writes:
> Isn't the Bramhaputra somewhat slower east of Patna than to its west? Is it
> because of single line sections?

You are quite right, Kumar! The entire Kiul-Guwahati section is single lined.
Also, the New Jalpaiguri-Guwahati stretch falls inside the notorious
rain-infested regions of N.E. West Bengal and Assam, which renders the soil
somewhat unstable. Hence, train speeds are reduced to a miserable < 50-60 kmph.


> Also, I noticed that the Bramhaputra hasn't been given
> much "making up time" leeway; for example it is scheduled to take nearly
> the same time going from Bombay to Bhusaval as it is in the other direction.

I thought about that. Ideally, the Up. train (goind towards Bombay)
should take about 15-20 mts. less than the Dn. train, to travel the
Bhusaval-Bombay section, as it avoids halts at Igatpuri and Kasara needed by
the latter for technical purposes. In making the timings nearly the same, I
have in fact increased the run time by about 20 mts. Maybe I should increase it
further by about 10 mts.


> I don't recollect a halt between Bhusaval and Jabalpore; this seems a
> long run. My concern is with 3-tier passengers having to go without water etc

This is, indeed, the longest non-stop stretch for the Brahmaputra Exp., and also
the fastest. In fact, it is the longest for ANY train in India (something to
be proud of). The train covers the 546 km. distance, at a high avg. speed
of nearly 84 kmph., thus, requiring about 6 1/2 hrs. My feeling is that
this shouldn't pose much of a problem. There are other trains which
have > 6 1/2 hrs. inter-halt times. e.g. the Tamilnadu Exp. from
Vijayawada-Madras (~7 hrs.). (there are certainly many more which have
> 5 1/2 hrs. inter-halt times). Isn't it possible to tackle water shortages
by storing "emergency" water in the pantry cars themselves or/and in other
coaches? I earnestly solicit some comments here.
If a technical halt is absolutely necessary, I would rather have it
at some smaller station such as Khandwa, Harda or Pipariya. (I want the
Brahmaputra to ignore Itarsi)


> Which railway is going to take up catering responsibilities on the
> Brahmaputra; the Central or the Northeast Frontier?

This is something I hadn't thought of before. On what should this decision be
based? On the quality/nature of catering facilites available at stations
belonging to a particular zone?


> A correction regarding my Delhi-Secunderabad Salarjung Express; it
> stops at Khandwa, not Nagda. Also it should really terminate at
> Kacheguda the main MG station in the Hyderabad area, but I decided to
> run it to Secunderabad in case people want to change to BG trains.

The Kacheguda-Ajmer Exp. has been extended till Jaipur and it now
runs daily between Kacheguda and Jaipur as the Kacheguda-Jaipur Exp.
This train covers the ~1450 km. distance in about 43 hrs. (avg. speed ~33
kmph.) The train is (supposed to be) a medium fast exp. with reasonable
number of halts. Extending this till Delhi (say, twice a week) would
require another 6 1/2 - 7 hrs. to travel the extra ~300 km. distance.
Thus, a total of ~50 hrs. traveling time is consumed between Delhi and
Kacheguda. An alternative to this is the proposed Salarjung Exp.
Since this train is superfast, one can expect it to cut down the
Delhi-Kacheguda run-time by a maximum of say 10-12 hrs., thus, requiring
a total of ~38 hrs. in the best case.
In contrast, the daily 21-coach AP Exp. takes about 26 hrs. to
travel the ~1650 km. distance via BG; the Dakshin Exp. takes an additional
8 hrs. Hence, Delhi-Secunderabad commuters would still prefer the AP or
Dakshin Exp., due to the time difference. Moreover, traveling in BG
coaches is more comfortable.
Even residents of, say, Alwar or Rewari might prefer catching some suitable
train to Delhi (say, Mandor Exp., or Delhi Mail, etc.) and then taking the AP
Exp., provided seats are available. Dheeraj should be in a better position to
let us know about the feasibility of such a decision.

Hence, I conclude that the Salarjung Exp. would be prefered by people
desiring to travel between Secunderbabad/Delhi and
intermediate stations in the route. This train could be a weekly or a
bi-weekly one. Since, it is the only train connecting
stations between Jaipur and Delhi with those in the Jaipur-Secunderabad section,
I think it should have more halts in the former stretch as compared to the
latter. How about the following halts:
Rewari, Alwar, Bandikui, Jaipur, Ajmer, Bhilwara (of textiles fame),
Chittaurgarh, Nimach, Ratlam, Indore, Mhow, Khandwa, Akola, Purna
and Nizamabad.
Maybe the train can halt at Secunderabad for about 20 mts., and then terminate
at Kacheguda, the next station.
Note that there are direct fast BG trains from Delhi to Ratlam/Indore/Khandwa.


....and, thus, ends another marathon mail session.


With regards,

Vijay

From: Rob Roy <roy@avior.email

Subject: Hi

Date: 22 Sep 1989 13:59:00 -0500


Hi Rail-fans:

I'm YAIRF (yet another Indian Railways fan). My name is Rabindra Roy. I did
my B. Tech from IIT KGP (Shaibal Roy was in my hall, hello Shaibal!), MS from
U of Illinois and I am currently pursuing a Ph D in EE at U of Illinois.

My interests are (other than Railways): Soccer, Badminton, Indian music, Indian history.

My e-mail: roy@bach.email

From: Vijay Balasubramanian <vbs@silly.email

Subject: More train stuff!

Date: 22 Sep 1989 15:46:00 -0500


Hi guys!

Just glanced thru' my saved IRFCA mail, and dug up some more stuff to
respond on:


> More about the Island Express later.
> Best regards,
> Raja.

I seem to have forgotton all about this train. Was this between Madras
and Cochin? Or between Mangalore and Trivandrum, perhaps? I am sure Raja can
enlighten us.


> Preview of Next Episode
> The common postfixes of stations:
> ..pur(Kanpur, Nagpur..)
> ..Road(i think I know why)
> Chitta

We haven't heard from you after your informative mail about the Mahanadi river
and its tributaries.


Shriram writes:
> 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.

A direct Bombay-Mangalore B.G. link, hugging the West Coast, is on the cards.
In fact, I believe that construction of a BG line till Roha has been completed.
This line (if and when completed) should be one the most scenic stretches in
India, with the sea on one side and mountains on the other. It will also
reduce traveling time between Bombay and Mangalore/Trivandrum. Existing trains
are forced to route their journeys via Bangalore/Renigunta before they can get
to Kerala.


Dheeraj writes:
> 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

The Manmad-Aurangabad-Purna MG-BG conversion may have never started, but for
intense public pressure. I guess the project derives it importance due to
its provision of bringing Aurangabad into the BG map (and promoting tourism
in Maharashtra). Another MG-BG conversion that comes to my mind is the
Varanasi-Bhatni section, which when completed, will provide direct service
between Varanasi and Gorakhpur. This will certainly place Varanasi in
a strategic postion (as a key outlet to imp. cities in N.E. U.P. and N.W. Bihar,
such as Gorakhpur, Chhapra, Muzzafarpur, Sonpur, etc.)


Shaibal writes:
> My favourite trains:
> The Bhilai--Balod--?? mixed train.
> Balod is a tiny town in Madhya Pradesh on a small branch off the Raipur
> Nagpur segment of the Howrah--Bombay route. We lived there since I

There are two mixed trains running on the Durg-Balod-Dalli Rajhara section.
Durg Jn. is the important station for Bhilai residents (although some trains
like the Hwh-Ahmedabad Exp. and the Chhatisgarh Exp. do stop at Bhilai Power
House).


> The (now extinct) Howrah--Bombay deluxe express.

I never knew there was a Deluxe express between Howrah and Bombay. I would
LOVE to know more about it! I can recollect the Hwh-Bombay Mail (via Nagpur)
way back around 1970 when I traveled on it (my lone journey on this train)
from Bombay to Howrah. At that time the coaches used to have a distinctive
black strip across the windows with two yellow stripes on either side.
I believe it had a superfast stamp in those days. This train has been
overshadowed by superfasts like the Gitanjali Exp., but is still one of the
fastest trains in its route. It commands a lot of respect from Bombay-Howrah
commuters mainly because of its convenient timings and punctuality. And, it
is one of the few mail trains to be vestibuled (other's that come to my mind are
the Frontier Mail, the Kalka Mail, the Tinsukia Mail and the Gujarat Mail;
maybe the Madras-Trivandrum Mail, the Jammu Tawi Mail and the
Madras-Quilon Mail are also vestibuled)


> Utkal Express.
> Next we lived in Shahdol -- another small town in Madhya Pradesh on the
> Bilaspur--Katni segment of the South Eastern Railways. It was somewhat

I remember Pendra Rd. as being one of the stations on this route. It is the
gateway to Amarkantak, a well-known tourist spot. No wonder, IR named the
Durg-Bhopal superfast train as the Amarkantak Exp. Other exp. trains on this
route are the Utkal Exp. (which Shaibal mentioned) and the daily Varanasi-Durg
Sarnath Exp.


> The EMU (local) trains on the Howrah/KGP, Sealdah/Naihati, and Sealdah/

Is it true that Sealdah is the busiest station in India? The EMU
commuters must be responsible for it. There doesn't seem to be
many Exp./Mail trains terminating here (Jammu Tawi-Sealdah Exp.,
Varanasi-Sealdah Exp., Darjeeling Mail and Gour Exp. to name a few).
My conjecture is that New Delhi is the busiest station as far as long distance
traffic is concerned.

I was fascinated by the name Kanchrapara (close to Naihati)
for no discernible reason. We had driven down to this place once from
Calcutta, when an uncle of mine was stationed at the Air Force quarters.
I believe that Barrackpore has an Air Force base.
I loved every moment of this drive as it used to play hide-n-seek with the
Sealdah-Naihati line. I get electrified (pun intended) by the sight of
electric poles supporting the catenary wires. Whenever we neared a railway
crossing I used to pray that it be closed, which would then allow me to capture
the splendor of a WAM-headed train whizzing past us.


> Assam mail (meter guage, amazingly long 22 cars or so).

Was a single YDM locomotive capable of hauling such a long train?


> The non--stop express train between Bangalore and Mysore.

The Tippu Exp. used to be the only non-stop exp. between Bangalore and Mysore,
with the Kaveri Exp. coming in a close second with a lone halt at
Srirangapatnam. I remember once spotting the Tippu Exp. during a
Mysore-Bangalore drive. (it had a green-yellow color similar to the
Madras-Madurai Pandyan Exp.). All the Bangalore-Mysore trains, now, have a
minimum of 3-4 stops (Maddur, Mandya, Srirangapatnam are among these)


> Steel Express (Howrah--Tata)

One of my favorites too. I have traveled on it about 4-5 times (on both the
Up. and Down. trains) between Tatanagar and Howrah. In my childhood days,
I used to naively assume that the train got its name because of its steel
coaches and that other trains were probably made of aluminium!

The journey between Tatanagar and Kharagpur is criss-crossed with
undulations which one can't help noticing because of the variations in speed.
I recall the train halting at two stations in this section viz., Jhargram and
Ghatsila.

Sometime around 1974 (?), this train acquired a partner in the form of the
Ispat Exp. between Howrah and Raurkela. I have traveled on this too.
This takes about the same time as the Steel between Tatanagar and Howrah
(~4 hrs.)


> The EMU (local) trains on the VT--Dadar line (amazingly rude crowd)

The fact that the Bombay local trains go thru' the heart of the city
(unlike other EMU sections such as Hwh-Kharagpur, Madras-Tiruvallur)
complicates matters.

The idea is to stand near the door ONLY when your station-of-interest is
approaching. You'll be swept onto the platform along with the swarm, when the
train stops. However, the trains are very convenient during non-office hours.
The Western Rly. is famous for the punctuality of its EMUs and their amazingly
high frequency as well (< 3-4 mts. between trains during office hrs.)

I believe that the Bombay suburban section is the only one to currently employ
an automatic braking system in India.



I'll stop here for now.

Have a nice week-end,

Bye
Vijay

From: Dheeraj Sanghi <dheeraj@cs.email

Subject: Re: Salarjung Exp.

Date: 23 Sep 1989 18:11:00 -0500


Hi,

>An alternative to this is the proposed Salarjung Exp. Since this
>train is superfast, one can expect it to cut down the Delhi-Kacheguda
>run-time by a maximum of say 10-12 hrs., thus, requiring a total of
>~38 hrs. in the best case.

>In contrast, the daily 21-coach AP Exp. takes about 26 hrs. to travel
>the ~1650 km. distance via BG; the Dakshin Exp. takes an additional 8
>hrs. Hence, Delhi-Secunderabad commuters would still prefer the AP or
>Dakshin Exp., due to the time difference. Moreover, traveling in BG
>coaches is more comfortable.

>Even residents of, say, Alwar or Rewari might prefer catching some
>suitable train to Delhi (say, Mandor Exp., or Delhi Mail, etc.) and
>then taking the AP Exp., provided seats are available. Dheeraj should
>be in a better position to let us know about the feasibility of such a
>decision.

Both Rewari and Alwar are non stops as far as the proposed Salarjung
Exp. is concerned. So it is a question of either going to Jaipur and
catching the train, or going to Delhi and taking a BG train. Now there
are more trains to Delhi than to Jaipur, and even bus connections are
very good. Since it also saves time, and you travel in BG coaches, I
would guess that people will prefer to take trains from Delhi.

On the other hand, if Alwar is added as a stop of Salarjung Exp. then
I guess people would prefer to take that train. Let us see why. It takes
3 hours to go from Alwar to Delhi in most trains. Then you have to go
from Delhi Jn. to New Delhi Rly Stn, another 30 minutes, and it is
always good to give 2-3 hours of safety margin, while changing trains.
So it is really 6 + 26 = 32 hours. for AP. Salarjung from Alwar would
take 35-36 hours. While it is true that BG coaches are more comfortable
and one is still saving 4 hours, but how reliable are bookings done via
telegram. In my experience 0 out of 2.

In case of Rewari, the savings is around 7 hours. It is beacuse there
are so many superfast buses that you can take from right outside the
Rewari Rly Stn, and they drop you at New Delhi Rly Stn. in 2 hours,
almost non-stop. I wouldn't need more than 2 hours of safety margin.
Now more people would be willing to take the chance with telegram
bookings. In fact, in Rewari, there are numerous number of "travel
agents" who would send someone to Delhi everyday for making bookings
for their clients for not too big a fees.

Here is a passage from The Imperial Way: Making Tracks from Peshawar to
Chittagong (by Paul Theroux and Steve McCurry - some real good
photographs, go to your library and have a look.)

"India is peculiarly visible from a railway train. I have the idea
that much of Indian life is lived within the sight of the tracks or
the station, and often next to tracks, or inside the station. It is
as if Indians still associate the railway with progress and optimism
- certainly, in India, the railway represents prosperity, and few
ambitions could be realized without it. It is not only part of Indian
culture, but it is an ingredient in Indian life: it is dynamic,
energetic, powerful. Why else would so many people choose to live so
close to it? And so merely by sitting at a window seat and watching,
one gets a very full idea of Indian society. But it is also true to
say that Indians keep themselves near the tracks in order to watch
the trains go by, so that they can see how other people live."

Did you know that India had train links with Pakistan as well as
Sri Lanka until 1965. The link with Pakistan was broken because
of 1965 war, while the a cyclone removed part of the tracks and
the bridge at Dhanushkodi, killing many passengers. The link with
Pakistan was restored in 1976, this one is between Amritsar and
Lahore, and there are talks of establishing another railway link, I
guess somewhere in Rajasthan. Does anyone know anything about this?
The bridge with Sri Lanka was never repaired, and the Madras-Colombo
Express is just a dream now.

regards,
-dheeraj

From: Dheeraj Sanghi <dheeraj@cs.email

Subject: Computerized Passenger Reservations in Indian Railways.

Date: 26 Sep 1989 00:08:00 -0500


Hi guys,
This one is about Computerization of passenger reservations
in Indian Railways. So far, 4 cities - Delhi, Bombay, Calcutta and
Madras have been computerized. In these cities, reservation can be
made for all outgoing trains from various places in the city. All the
terminals are hooked up to the central VAX by telephone lines. By the
year-end, five more cities: Ahemdabad, Bangalore, Bhopal, Lucknow and
Secunderabad, will be computerized. By the end of next year, nine
more cities will come under the umbrella of computerized
reservations. They are: Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Gorakhpur, Guwahati,
Jaipur, Jammu Tawi, Patna, Pune and Trivandrum.

And that is not all. Many more cities have been connected to
the computers in the four metros, already online, through remote
terminals, using telephone lines. The Northern Rly is putting most
money into the computerization effort, and the cities which have
already been connected by remote terminals (some may soon get their
own computers) are: Jammu Tavi, Jaipur, Gorakhpur, Kanpur, Varanasi,
and Amritsar. (Isn't Jaipur in Western Rly?) Added to the list soon
will be Bhopal and Lucknow. (Isn't Bhopal in Central Rly?) The
telephone lines are either Railways' own channels or in some cases
DoT lines.

The next step is, of course, networking. One should be able
to make bookings from any city to any other city sitting in the third
city. Well, the plans are underway. The initial plan is to set up a
network between Delhi, Bombay, Calcutta, Madras and Secundrabad.
Initially, the netwrk will really be remote terminals at each site,
but "true networking" software is being written by CMC. After the
networking package is ready, (and the next INSAT is sent in time and
Railways are able to get enough satellite channels on it, and ...)
it shouldn't be long before one can get complete flexibility in
making reservations. Already, Delhi and Calcutta are connected via
remote terminals. Delhi-Bombay and Delhi-Madras will be connected by
the year end. To take care of the increasing load on Delhi computers,
the two existing VAX 8600 have been joined by VAX 6240 with 128M
bytes of main memory (Boy, that's some memory) and 500M disk storgae.
With this the total number of terminals (incl. remote ones) will
increase to 350 from 150. The load is increasing on all computers and
plans are under way to replace the VAX minis (8600s) by VAX
mainframes (6200 and 6300 series). (Why the hell they couldn't guess
the load, it has been just a couple of years that they started
computerized reservations, and they already need a massive upgrade.)
For Delhi-Calcutta remote link, they are using 4800 bps microwave and
satellite data circuits.

[source: various Computers Today issues]

-dheeraj

From: SC10000 <SC10%NEMOMUS.BITNET@ricevm1.email

Subject:

Date: 27 Sep 1989 20:24:00 -0500


Hi folks! I got a lot of messages today after more than a week of
a communication blackout. I haven't received Vijay's initial critique
of the Salarjung express; however I recd. subsequent messages. I also
recd. Dheeraj's posting on the Salarjung. I think that I can receive
messages thru irfca@amazon; I usually receive two copies of the same
message from Vijay. As a test Vijay could send two messages, one to
my node address and the other via irfca. I have many comments, but I
will save them for the next couple of days. My node suffers periodic
communication blackouts and hence during these times I may not receive
your message immediatly, but only after a few days.
Kumar

From: SC10000 <SC10%NEMOMUS.BITNET@ricevm1.email

Subject:

Date: 28 Sep 1989 21:17:00 -0500


HI GUYS,

VIJAY HAD QUESTIONS ABOUT THE HOWRAH-BOMBAY DELUXE; DO YOU GUYS KNOW
THAT THERE USED TO BA A HOWRAH-MADRAS DELUXE TOO? THIS HAD A FEW LESS
HALTS THAN THE HWH-MAS MAIL, BUT USED TO BE A MITE SLOWER (MUCH TO
YOURS TRULY'S DELIGHT). I REMEMBER THAT IT USED TO IGNORE BERHAMPUR JN.
BUT USED TO STOP AT CHATRAPUR; THE MAIL USED TO IGNORE CHATRAPUR IN THE
GOOD OLD DAYS. I BELIEVE THAT IT ALSO USED TO IGNORE BHADRAK, JAJPUR-
KEONJHAR RD., PALASA, SRIKAKULAM ROAD, ANAKAPALLE, TUNI, TADEPALLIGUDEM,
ELURU, AND TENALI WHERE THE MAIL HAD STOPS. I ALSO BELIEVE THAT IT WAS A
BI-WEEKLY ONE NIGHT TRAIN LEAVING HWH/MAS IN THE EARLY MORNING AND
REACHING MAS/HWH LATE EVENING. THIS DID NOT EXACTLY ENDEAR IT TO THE
PASSENGERS AND HENCE IT WAS SUBSEQUENTLY CANCELLED. I REMEMBER WITH
DELIGHT THE EARLY MORNING RUN OF THE SOUTH-BOUND MAIL; APART FROM THE
GORGEOUS SUNRISE OVER THE CHILKA I WAS ALWAYS THRILLED WHEN THE MAIL
AT *FULL SPEED AND THE DIESEL ENGINE BLARING* INVARIABLY RACED PAST
CHATRAPUR (THE DISTRICT HEDAQRTRS. OF GANJAM DISTRICT) FORCING THE
ONLOOKERS TO COVER THEIR FACES DUE TO THE DUST-FILLED SWIRLING GUSTS
CREATED BY THE MAIL. TAKE THAT YOU DELUXE!!

ADDING MORE STOPS TO THE SALARJUNG SEEMS PRACTICAL; BUT I HAVE OFTEN
TRIED TO INDULGE IN THE FANTASY OF A MG LINK BETWEEN THE NORTH AND THE
SOUTH.

AS TO THE QUESTION ABOUT CATERING ON THE BRAMHAPUTRA, IT MAY INTEREST
YOU GUYS TO KNOW THAT THE CATERING ON THE GT/TN/OLD KK/OLD JAYANTHI WAS
HANDLED BY THE SOUTHERN RLY. I REMEBER EATING RAVA IDLIS AND VADAS
BETWEEN BHOPAL AND HOSHANGABAD (I HATE THIS PLACE FOR MAKING THE GT STOP
HERE) ON THE GT. I GUESS THIS IS BECAUSE SOUTHIES FORM A MAJORITY OF THE
PASSRS. THE WATER PROBLEM ON THE STOP-SCARCE SUPERFAST TRAINS IS REAL;
THE CATERING STAFF IS INEFFICIENT AND ON THE RARE OCCASION THEY FILL THE
COMPARTMENT'S WATER CANTEEN, SOME *#$!% PASSENGER SIMPLY FILLS HIS/HER
"SURAHI" BY EMPTYING THE CANTEEN'S CONTENTS!

THE ISLAND EXPRESS USED TO TRAVEL BETWEEN BANGALORE CITY AND COCHIN.
COCHIN IS AN ISLAND, HENCE THE TRAIN'S NAME. I BELIEVE THAT IT GOES TILL
TRIVANDRUM NOW AND COMPLETELY BY-PASSES COCHIN.

BYE FOR NOW, KUMAR

From: Vijay Balasubramanian <vbs@plumpy.email

Subject: Continuing on.....

Date: 29 Sep 1989 13:32:00 -0500


Hi Folks,

All's quiet on the IRFCA front, or so it seems! Looks like this semseter
has begun to take its toll.

Please welcome Mr. T. K. Lakshman (lakshman@m.email and
Mr. Aravind (aravind@vax135.email. Dheeraj has already put them on the
mailing list. Aravind has promised to let us know all
about the TGV; we should be hearing froim him soon.
Lakshman has traveled on the Jammu Tavi - Pune Jhelum Exp.
and the Madras - Coimbatore Kovai Exp. besides others, and should be writing
to us about his experiences.


Dheeraj, your article on computerizated reservations in IR was very
informative. What is the basis for choosing sites to locate the computers?
My guess is, it depends on the passanger traffic density in a particular region.
Trivandrum seems to be the only Southern site to be considered so far; why is
that? Will both Bhubaneswar and Cuttack have their own computers?
It is not surprising that Northern Rly. is the most motivated among the zones;
it handles the maximum passanger traffic (has the densest rly. network).

Computerizing reservations should considerably reduce the misery that
one encounters sweating a whole day away in a concentration camp of sorts,
which invariably ends in the man-behind-the-window shaking his head in sorrow:
"4 Dn. to teen mahine tak booked hai, aap doosara kuch kijiye" (the 4. Dn. is
booked for the next three months, please try something else). Alas, the word
"please" is probably my own creation; the person in question often assumes
a haughty and rude temperament. Besides hastening up the process,
computerization also distributes the work-load, if I'm not mistaken. I have
heard stories that inept keyboard handling (typing, etc.) is a hampering factor,
it this true? Will computerization adversely affect the job scene in any way?
One particular "job" that comes my mind is the so-called agent, the middle man,
who uses the inefficiency at the reservation counter to his maximum advantage,
if you know what I mean.


> Here is a passage from The Imperial Way: Making Tracks from Peshawar to
> Chittagong (by Paul Theroux and Steve McCurry - some real good
> photographs, go to your library and have a look.)

Another book that comes to my mind is "Rail Across India: A Photographic
Journey" by Brain Hollingsworth (?). I was put off by the price, nearly
$ 60.00.


> Did you know that India had train links with Pakistan as well as
> Sri Lanka until 1965. The link with Pakistan was broken because

The de-linking with Bangladesh has increased train traveling time between
Calcutta and Jalpaiguri/Guwahati. Earlier the route used to cut across North
East Pakistan to join Haldibari, about 60 kms. from Jalpaiguri. The Darjeeling
Mail used to take this route. I believe, Ishwardy was/is one of the junctions
in this stretch.

The Amritsar-Lahore Exp. takes about 4 hrs. between its terminii.
It stops at the border town of Atari for nearly 2 hrs., and makes sure that
all documents are properly processed.
It consists of four Indian coaches, the other four being from Pakistan.


Kumar writes:
> vijay had questions about the howrah-bombay deluxe; do you guys know
> that there used to ba a howrah-madras deluxe too? this had a few less
> halts than the hwh-mas mail, but used to be a mite slower (much to
> yours truly's delight). i remember that it used to ignore berhampur jn.

Kumar, could you provide similar info. about the Bombay-Howrah Deluxe Exp.?

The superfast trains on the Howrah-Madras section which fall in between the
Mail and the Coromandel Exp. are the Konark Exp. (which, as I had mentioned
before, has 5 halts less than the mail in their common route) and the
Guwahati/Howrah - Trivandrum/Cochin/Bangalore Exps. These trains pass
thru' both Howrah (except the ones terminating here) and Madras, and
collectively travel almost daily. They share a similar schedule
among themselves, and with the weekly Patna-Cochin Exp.
The halts between Howrah and Madras are: Kharagpur, Balasore, Cuttack,
Bhubaneswar, Berhampur, Palasa, Srikakulam Rd., Vizianagaram,
Visakhapatnam, Rajahmundry, Vijaywada and Ongole (towards Howrah only).
They ignore some imp. halts such as Khurda Rd., Nellore and Gudur.
They leave Howrah around 10.30 p.m. and reach Madras around 4.00 a.m. two days
later. Thus, they overtake the Mail near Gudur. In the other dirn., they leave
Madras around 7.00 a.m. to reach Howrah around 1.30 p.m. the next day. They
are overtaken by the Coromandel Exp. between Vijaywada and Rajahmundry.


> you guys to know that the catering on the gt/tn/old kk/old jayanthi was
> handled by the southern rly. i remeber eating rava idlis and vadas

..so also catering on the Madras-Varanasi (earlier Ganga-Kaveri) Exp.
I remember having breakfasted on hot uppama somewhere near Allahabad, on my way
to Madras.


> the island express used to travel between bangalore city and cochin.
> cochin is an island, hence the train's name. i believe that it goes till
> trivandrum now and completely by-passes cochin.

The daily Bangalore Nagercoil Exp. goes thru' Ernakulam Town, bypassing
even Ernakulam Jn. Wasn't this involved in a major accident near Quilon
a few months back? (the train went off a bridge)


Watch out for my next mail (should be on Train numbering)


Regards,

Vijay

From: SC10000 <@rice.email

Subject:

Date: 30 Sep 1989 21:24:00 -0500


Hi gang,

Vijay wanted info about the Howrah-Bombay A/C express (now defunct). I
don't know as much about the Hwh-Bby route as I do about the Hwh-Mas
route. I believe that this was a bi/tri-weekly train with fewer stops
than the mail. It may have been a one-night train but I am not sure.
It probably took as much time or a little more time than the mail.
Of course it was in the same "fast" category as the mail. It would
have been the 2nd choice of Hwh-Bby passengersbeing far superior to
the euphemistically called Hwh-Bby "Express" (of course some passrs.
may have preferred the Hwh-Bby Mail via A'bad). It most likely ignored
stations like Rajnandgaon, Rajkharswan etc.

It seems that the P'stani govt. doesn't want to open up the
Khokrapar(sp?)-Munabao(sp?) MG rail link between Rajasthan and Sind.
They are afraid to provide a direct link between Sind and India.
Supposedly that the hindu-muslim migration during partition was never
as complete in Sind/Rajasthan as in the Punjab and the boundary cuts
across families and the like.

As for B'desh, the Indian govt. does not want to promote any trans
B'desh link from W. Bengal to N.W.Bengal/Assam. A good many trains run
from Sealdah to Lalgola on the B'desh border. Dacca cannot be directly
connected to Cal due to the Brahmaputra (called Padma I think), but
there shouldn't be problems linking Cal to Jessore; Dhubri in Assam to
Sylhet/Mymensing etc. if the two govts. wished to.

I know that before the Tamil problem one could connect to the Talaiman-
-nar to Colombo express via the Mas Egmore-Rameswaram express and the
Rameswaram-Talaimannar steamer. The Mas-Rameswaram express is still
sometimes referred to as the "Boat mail".

Bye for now, Kumar

From: Dheeraj Sanghi <dheeraj@cs.email

Subject: Railway Reservations

Date: 03 Oct 1989 09:42:00 -0500


The following message is from Shridhar. He could not post directly,
so he sent it to me.
----------------------------------------------------------------------
From: Sridhar Krishnamurthy <ksri@wafer.email
Date: Mon, 2 Oct 89 10:36:13 -0400
Subject: Railway Reservations

While on the topic of railway reservations....

I once noticed a unique system at Bangalore City station..
Wonder if any of you netters came across the system too?

There are three trains
that run between Madras and Bangalore (The Brindavan Exp, The Bangalore-Madras
Express and the Bangalore-Madras Mail). The Mail is the more popular of
the three. Thats probably because the other two are day trains and
one ends up wasting a lot of his or her time. Besides the Madras-Bangalore
route is pretty boring and there is nothing interesting along the way.

Anyway since the Mail was the more popular of the three there
always used to be a long queue to make reservations for the train.
The railway officials at the ticket center at Bangalore city
came up with what they thought was a brilliant idea to reduce the
length of the queue. They decided to have one counter for
people needing reservations to travel on odd numbered days
and another counter for people needing reservations
on even numbered days. Although the size of the queues did
decrease by half, they still were pretty long.
On reaching the counter and on finding that a reservation is not
available for the date (without loss of generality let us assume that
you wished to travel on an odd numbered day) you wished to travel
you had to make a quick but an agonising decision at that point:
either travel two days later than originally planned or go to
the back of the even numbered queue and hope that you can get a
reservation for travelling a day later than originally planned!!

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

From: Dheeraj Sanghi <dheeraj@cs.email

Subject: Re: Railway Reservations

Date: 03 Oct 1989 09:50:00 -0500


Hi,
Even in Delhi, for very popular trains (or trains which have
a large quota from Delhi and are daily, so that one clerk couldn't
handle the daily volume) had this funda of 2 ticket windows, one with
even dates, and one with odd dates. The two trains that come to my
mind are Gomti Exp (Over 700 2nd class reservations every day - Clearly
one clerk with dilapitated ledgers can't handle that much volume)
and Kalka Exp (Towards Howrah). Of course, after the introduction of
computerized reservations, one can go to any window for any train for
any class of service for any date etc.

-dheeraj

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

Subject: Re: Railway Reservations

Date: 03 Oct 1989 11:45:00 -0500


Befor the computerization days, the best railway reservation system
that I encountered was(is) in Secunderabad. They had a separate reservation hall
with as usual different windows for different trains. Once you get in
you just fill your reservation form and deposit it in a(may be 2) particular
counter.(note-just deposit. hence no queue there). You get a number
when you deposit the form. Then you can sit(plenty of chairs in the hall)
and wait till your number is in the window partcular to your train.
The display is big enough to be visible from a pretty long distance.
Moreover incase you forgot to bring a book or a newspaper to read while
you wait for your number there were stalls in there where you could rent them.

Although the waiting time was almost the same, the wait was not painful.

Other places with equal or a better system?

---Chitta

From: Dheeraj Sanghi <dheeraj@cs.email

Subject: Computerized Reservations.

Date: 03 Oct 1989 13:02:00 -0500


Hi Vijay, I don't know for sure the basis for choosing the sites for
locating the computer, but your guess seems reasonable. It should
depend on the traffic density in that region. The remote lines are
not very reliable, and in any case there is no particular advantage
of having all the database at one site. (There are disadvantages
though, e.g. increased cost of communication if using remote links,
and of course, those links are unreliable.) Bhubaneshwar and Cuttack
would have their own computers by 1990 end. Trivandrum is not the only
site in the south. (How South is South, anyway?, Is it south of Vindhyas,
or is it south of Deccan Plateau, or is it something else?) Madras
was in the phase I of the computerization plan. Bangalore and Secunderabad
were in the phase II, and Bhubaneswar, and Cuttack are in phase III.

-dheeraj

From: Vijay Balasubramanian <vbs@silly.email

Subject: IR, what else?

Date: 03 Oct 1989 20:38:00 -0500


Hi Folks!

In case you forgot, yesterday was Gandhi Jayanti. Hope you were nice to
your neighbors (for a change)!!!


Shridhar writes:
> There are three trains
> that run between Madras and Bangalore (The Brindavan Exp, The Bangalore-Madras
> Express and the Bangalore-Madras Mail). The Mail is the more popular of
> the three. Thats probably because the other two are day trains and

The recently introducted weekly Guwahati-Bangalore Exp. and the weekly
Howrah-Bangalore Exp. (both having the same time schedule between Howrah and
Bangalore, and passing thru' Madras Central) now provide additional bi-weekly
service between Madras and Bangalore. These trains leave Madras around
4.30 a.m. and reach Bangalore around 11.45 a.m. (odd timings at Madras).
In the other direction, they leave Bangalore around 11.30 p.m. (is this
too late a departure time as compared to the Mail (10.00 p.m.) ?) and arrive at
Madras around 7.00 a.m. Thus, they consume an additonal 1 - 1/2 hrs.
as compared to the Brindavan Exp. on the Bangalore-Madras stretch. I have a
feeling they might be preferred over the Brindavan Exp. and the Bangalore-Madras
Exp. by Bangalore to Madras commuters.



Dheeraj writes:
> and Kalka Exp (Towards Howrah). Of course, after the introduction of
> computerized reservations, one can go to any window for any train for
> any class of service for any date etc.

Didn't you state in your earlier mail that reservations can be made from
different parts of the city? This should considerably reduce the queue lengths.
Are there separate reservation offices for this purpose (located at vantage
points in the city)?


Chitta writes:
> that I encountered was(is) in Secunderabad. They had a separate reservation
> hall with as usual different windows for different trains. Once you get in
> you just fill your reservation form and deposit it in a(may be 2) particular
> counter.(note-just deposit. hence no queue there). You get a number
> when you deposit the form. Then you can sit(plenty of chairs in the hall)
> and wait till your number is in the window partcular to your train.

Sounds like a neat operation to me, as far as the passangers are concerned!
Was there just ONE deposit queue for ALL trains? Such a situation would
definitely complicate matters for the reservation clerks. Maybe this is the
reason why such a policy hasn't been adopted at all important stations.
One way to simplify matters is to have an optimal number of deposit queues
that would result in a uniform service rate. Your comments, please!


That's all for now,


Regards,

Vijay

From: Shriram Revankar <revankar@cs.email

Subject: Re: Computerized Passenger Reservations in Indian Railways.

Date: 04 Oct 1989 09:38:00 -0500


About ease of reservation:

Madras to my knowledge is the best place. It has a separate
building that provides needed isolation from the crowded station,
yet close enough for one to rush to the rly station within a minute.

The site for reservation or booking on the day of the journey is
located on the station, and all the advance booking is done in a
nearby large, new, clean, well-maintained building.

Reservation procedure is to fill-up a form and get a token.
Large electronic displays with buzzers are placed at each counter to
display the token numbers.

Good seating is provided, and 26inch color TVs are installed.
Most of the time the TVs showed Disney type comics, once I even saw
complete Michel Jacksons "Thriller"!!

Only Bangalore advance reservation does not seem to have
token system. I am not sure if that was a one day phenomenon or
regularly like that.


Shriram.

ps. How about calling ourselves FACIRs (fakeers)? I kinda' like that.

From: Sridhar Krishnamurthy <ksri@wafer.email

Subject: Questions?

Date: 04 Oct 1989 10:48:00 -0500


Can anyone enlighten me on the following questions?

1. Into how many zonal divisions is the Indian Railway partitioned,
and where the headquarters for each division are located?

2. Bombay serves as the headquarters for both the Western Railway as
well as the Central Railway. Is there any other such city which
serves as a zonal headquarter for two or more zonal divisions?

3. The numbers on the telephone poles aids us in calculating the
distances in kms travelled. Should one assume that the number on
a telephone pole on a particular railway route is the distance from the
pole to the nearest zonal headquarter?

4. Some stations are known more for the things that one can
buy at that station. For eg., Khurda Road (on the Howrah Madras route)
is famous for the 'stone base' on which people
roll their rotis and chappatis, Nagpur for its Oranges, Lonawala
(on the Bombay Pune route) for its cashew/peanut chikki's etc etc.
Do other such stations come to your mind?


Enuf questions for now.

Sridhar

From: Shriram Revankar <revankar@cs.email

Subject: Re: Questions?

Date: 04 Oct 1989 13:05:00 -0500


Hubli HQ South-Central Rly.

Jalgaon -- Banana, Vijaywada -- Milkproducts(?)(beware station is always very
dirty), Ambala Cant. (Hardware products just outside station).

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