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From: Sandra Norwood <

Subject: Old silent member

Date: 13 Oct 1989 11:55:00 -0500

This is Dhrubes Biswas. I am the most senior silent member of
the IRFCA. I am doing my graduate study at U of I, Coordinated
Science Laboratory in High Speed Electronic Devices Group.
My special train interests are steam locomotives, specially
those serving the isolated regions, where they stand out as
the most spectacular sights.
I am recently aware of a new line just completed : Ernakulam to
Allepy, a 35 mile long costal line. Trial runs have already been
completed and now it is awaiting the formal inaurgation by
Mr.Rajiv Gandhi. I have a special fascination for costal railways.
Can anyone share with me the great feeling when one passes along
the Chilka lake during the early hours of a wintry morning?
This is all for today! More will follow next time.

From: SC10000 <


Date: 13 Oct 1989 14:43:00 -0500

Hi folks,

I have been following the discussion about the Shatabdis with great
interest. One thing which always upset me about the Rajdhani was the
fact that it had no ordinary 2nd class coaches. Hence it was always
outside my budget range for my numerous trips from N.Delhi to Howrah.
I don't know what arguments the railways use to avoid including 2nd
class in the Rajdhani (and now, alas, the Shatabdi). I can think of the

1) Inclusion of 2nd class coaches isn't cost-effective.
I doubt the validity of this argument. In my opinion the 2nd class
(reserved) coaches have the largest percentage of real fare-paying
passengers, i.e. people who pay out of their pocket. In the upper
classes, a good fraction of the passengers are pass-holders or
government officials etc. Also the number of extra passengers in
a 2nd class coach makes up for the higher fare per passenger in the
upper classes.

2) It is not practical or safe to run high-speed trains which have
open non-A/C compartments.
I am willing to accept this for trains like the Shinkansen or the TGV.
But if we can have 2nd class coaches in the 110 kph TN/GT/Kalka/Deluxe
etc. why can't we have 2nd class coaches in the 120-130 kph Rajdhani/
Shatabdi? An extra 10 kph isn't going to spell disaster!

3) As these high speed trains have few stops it is necessary to
provide catering facilities. Inclusion of 2nd class coaches tremendously
increases the number of passengers to be served and hence it is not
I beg to disagree. Trains like the Coromandel and TN have few stops, but
are provided with 2nd class coaches. Catering to more passengers, if
properly managed, should pose few problems. One could include a catering
surcharge with the fare if needed.

I can think of no reason other than the desire to keep the Rajdhani and
the Shatabdi as glitzy show-pieces. I think that the railways are
sacrificing some revenue and turning away a lot of potential
passengers. Sometimes I even wonder if the Rajdhani makes a profit.
This, if true, is a big shame because then people are getting subsidised
to travel on the Rajdhani or the Shatabdi.

Mind you, I am not for scrapping these trains. But I think turning away
potential 2nd class passengers for reasons involving nothing but
prestige is ridiculous. I hope Vijay doesn't mind my criticism of
his favorite train.

Any comments? Kumar

From: Dheeraj Sanghi <

Subject: Shatabdi & Rajdhani trains.

Date: 14 Oct 1989 14:44:00 -0500

I agree with Kumar that there should be 2nd class coaches
in Shatabdi and Rajdhani trains. I think the reason they are fully
AC is primarily to keep them glitzy show-pieces (to use Kumar's
words). But it also reflects Railway's incapability to restrict
passengers in the 2nd class compartments. If there are 2nd class
coaches in these trains, there would definitely be unreserved people
piling on. Since these are IR's show-pieces, such overcrowding wouldn't
go well with the IR's image. The only solution that I can think of,
and I have espoused that in these columns before, is to have another
fare class for superfast trains, which is higher than the express fares.
For these two trains, you add catering and reservation charges, and
you have ticket considerably higher than other express trains on the
same route, which should discourage lot of people.

By the way, I would be surprised if these trains are subsidised
by other trains. I think higher classes in India are mostly self-financed.
(There is some profit, but they are definitely not run with losses.)
2nd class is subsidised with profits from goods traffic.


From: aravind <


Date: 14 Oct 1989 16:37:00 -0500


I've been meaning to post something for a long time to this group, and
here it is .....

(I use the one name "Aravind", spent 22 formative years in
Madras/Bangalore, then mined gold in the sandy beaches of Santa
Barbara, CA, for 5-some years, am now making ends meet in Red
Bank, NJ, and for much of life I've searched for the legitimacy
to be a train-addict of sorts... used to be mercilessly taken to task
in my IIT-M days...)

There's been some magic about trains - especially Indian
- that's endured over the years. I started learning the system at
the time SCR was carved out of SR and CR - back in the mid-60s.
I remember that my first SR timetable went all the way to some exotic
place called "Waltair", unimaginably distant from Madras.
The very next timetable was thinner, with trains going off the
edge of the world at "Gudur". By this time, my curiousity was whetted
beyond a normal return to real life. Timetables have since remained
items to be pondered, savored and digested ..
(most of my travelling has been in an armchair with a timetable)

I was last in the SR scene in 86, pleasantly surprised to find an
electric loco hauling the Brindavan Express all the way from Madras
to Jolarpettai. Since then, I was completely in the dark about IR
happenings until this summer, when this group formed (thanks, Vijay,
for adding my name to this august body)..

Re the electrification news that Vijay posted some time back:

When the Delhi-Madras route is fully electrified, it will be the
longest stretch of electrified track in IR. Does anyone know what the
longest is in the world? the trans-siberian railway, perhaps?

I remember the hoop-la made in '73 by the TamilNadu CM Karunanidhi
and other
jokers on the inauguration of the Vijayawada-Madras electrification
project. It wasn't completed until 1980-81. Since then, progress
appears to have been fairly swift. Is the entire Madras-Nagpur section

I did have occasion to travel between Madras and Delhi twice in the
mid-70s. There were some fairly scenic segments in the Nagpur-Itarsi
and Itarsi-Bhopal sections. Also a lot of single-line operation
between Nagpur and Itarsi. Has the track been doubled by now?
This section is one of the critical North-South links.

Can anyone shed light on the fate of the Karur-Dindigul-Madurai link
in TN?

More later,


From: Dheeraj Sanghi <

Subject: One Hundred Years of Indian Railways: 1853-1953.

Date: 15 Oct 1989 21:52:00 -0500

Here is some more information from the book I have been
reading these days.

The first train with double decker coaches was introduced in 1862. (I
always thought that Singarh (sp?) Exp. running between Bombay and
Pune was the first such train.) In 1874, Fourth class of service was
introduced which has no benches. The passengers were supposed to sit
on the floor, and there wasno protection from rain, sun etc. After a
public agitation, benches were restored, it started being called 3rd
class, and the original 3rd class was renamed as Intermediate class.
Until 1885, all coaches were made of wood. Then they started making
all-steel underframe, but the body continued to be of wood. All steel
coaches were first introduced on Bombay suburban service in 1922. It
was only in 1949 that IR adopted all-steel coaches as its standard for
all future coaches. Did you know that HAL Bangalore used to (still
does ???) make coaches? By the way, all-steel coaches are also known
as `integral design' and hence the name `Integral Coach Factory' to the
coach building factory of IR. In 1949, the length of broad gauge
coaches was increased from 68 feet to 70 feet, and width from 10 feet
to 11' 8" (which was later reduced to 10' 8"). First AC coach was
introduced in 1936. Before that, upper class coaches were kept cool in
summer by khas-khas in mattings which were kept moist. Early coaches
used to open on the outside. Inward opening doors were first
introduced in 1909. Four-wheeler coaches were replaced by bogie coaches
in 1903. Vacuum break was introduced in 1879. In earlier trains in other
countries, passengers had to get their own candles for light. In India,
oil lamps were provided from the very beginning. In 1870s gas lamps
became common. The first electric lights were introduced in 1902 by
Jodhpur Railways. By the end of the decade, it became standard on all
railways. Latrines in the third class coaches were first introduced in

Did you know that TELCO, Jamshedpur also made (still makes??) railway
engines? The first broad gauge locomotive was manufactured in India in
1880 in the East Indian Railway workshop, while the first meter gauge
locomotive was built in 1896 at Ajmer.

That's all for today folks. 60% of the book is over, so just 2 more


From: Vijay Balasubramanian <

Subject: In defence of the Rajdhani Exp.!

Date: 16 Oct 1989 16:59:00 -0500

Hi Folks,

Was pleasently surprised about the increased IRFCA activity over the
week-end. Kumar's remarks about the Rajdhani Exp. were interesting;
they have also has given me a chance to talk about my favorite train (at last!)

> I can think of no reason other than the desire to keep the Rajdhani and
> the Shatabdi as glitzy show-pieces. I think that the railways are
> sacrificing some revenue and turning away a lot of potential
> passengers. Sometimes I even wonder if the Rajdhani makes a profit.

Having second-class coaches would certainly deglamorize the Rajdhani Exp.
The second largest single system in the world viz. IR, needs to boast of at
least a few fully airconditioned superfasts among its massive fleet, in order
to keep up its image in the international world (if you think this is lame
excuse...., read on). I fully agree with Dheeraj
that the inability of our government to curtail unauthorized overloading in
three-tier coaches goes against the proposed inclusion.

You might be surprised to learn that the Rajdhanis are extremely popular
with Delhi-Bombay/Calcutta commmuters, as also passangers from intermediate
halts. Here are some supportive facts:

1) The early 80's saw a change in the frequency of the Rajdhanis from
bi-weekly to five days a week.

2) Around the same time, the capacity was almost doubled due to an increase in
coach strength from 8/9 to 18.

3) The Rajdhani schedules are quite convenient for AC Chair Car travel (less
than 18 hrs). This is evident from the fact that 10 out of the 18 coaches are
chair cars. Moreover, overnight traveling is always preferable from the
view-point of better time utilization.

4) The Rajasthan government was displeased with the fact that the Bombay-Delhi
Rajdhani did not have any passanger halt in that state (Gangapur City was a
technical halt). As a result, the Gangapur City halt was removed in early 1988,
and Kota was made a passanger halt. How I HATED this; MY Rajdhani now
stopping at Kota!

The Rajdhani Exp. certainly caters more to the affluent community and
the business-oriented public who frequently communicate between Delhi and
Bombay/Calcutta and at short notices. The AC Chair Car fare between Bombay
and Delhi is around Rs. 350, and is high when compared to the second class
fare (< Rs. 150). I agree with Kumar that this would tend to discourage
the general public, but, there are other superfasts between Delhi and
Bombay/Howrah with second class coaches which take <= 6 hrs. additional
traveling time between the above cities.

1) The quad-weekly Bombay Jammu Tawi superfast exp. takes around 3 1/2 - 4 hrs.
more than the Bombay Rajdhani. The daily Frontier Mail and the
AC/Paschim Exp. take an additional 2 - 2 1/2 hrs.

2) The five-days-a-week (quint-weekly?) Deluxe Exp. and the daily Kalka Mail
take around 6 - 6 1/2 hrs, more than the Howrah Rajdhani.

> passengers, i.e. people who pay out of their pocket. In the upper
> classes, a good fraction of the passengers are pass-holders or
> government officials etc. Also the number of extra passengers in

Not quite true! As far the Bombay Rajdhani is concerned, only two berths in
I-Class ACC (AC Coach), four berths in AC II-tier Sleeper and 10 seats in AC
Chair Car can be made available at the maximum to pass holders on a particular
train. Moreover, they can travel in AC First Class only after paying a certain
fraction (around 30%) of the fare difference between AC First Class and AC
two-tier. Similar is the case with MPs.

> But if we can have 2nd class coaches in the 110 kph TN/GT/Kalka/Deluxe
> etc. why can't we have 2nd class coaches in the 120-130 kph Rajdhani/
> Shatabdi? An extra 10 kph isn't going to spell disaster!

True! But the Rajdhanis are supposed to provide sound-proof (minimal sound) and
dust proof travel. The coaches are equipped with superior bogies for
better shock absorbtion. Moreover, having a public address system doesn't
make sense otherwise.

It should be noted that the Rajdhanis have a much higher average speed
(around 84 kmph. for the Bombay one and 83 kmph. for the Howrah one) than
the TN, GT, etc., which means that they maintain their high speed over a
longer distance than the latter. If I am not mistaken, the TN boasts of a
reasonably high avg. speed only in the Jhansi-Bina section, and from N. Delhi
to Jhansi.

It is worthwhile mentioning here that the Bombay Rajdhani travels the longest
non-stop distance (inter-halt distance) in India. It covers the 465 km.
distance between Kota and N. Delhi in around 5 1/4 hrs., with a high avg. speed
of around 89 kmph.

One of my aunts, currently employed in AIR, Delhi, frequently travels between
Delhi and Calcutta/Bombay on the Rajdhanis. She used to recall the early
and mid-seventees when the toilets used to shudder voilently in certain sections
of the Rajdhani routes.

> I beg to disagree. Trains like the Coromandel and TN have few stops, but
> are provided with 2nd class coaches. Catering to more passengers, if
> properly managed, should pose few problems. One could include a catering
> surcharge with the fare if needed.

The Rajdhani already has two AC Pantry Car coaches catering to the passangers.
Increasing the load on the catering service might not be very practical!

More later on the Rajdhani Exps., esp. the Bombay-Delhi one,



From: SC10000 <


Date: 17 Oct 1989 12:09:00 -0500

Hi folks,

This is a followup of my tirade against the Rajdhani. I support
Dheeraj's idea of having a II-reserved class. However, I would
prefer it to be implemented in the following way;

Superfast trains: Abolish present 2nd class, create a 2-R (or
whatever) class whose fares will properly reflect the actual cost.
As the A-C chair car fare is about twice the present 2-class fare,
I would imagine that the 2-R fare should be about 50% more than the
present 2nd class fare to cover costs. The passengers travelling on
superfast trains are mostly middle-class. While this increase in the
fare will be significant, I doubt that it will devastate their holiday
budgets. Maybe they will vacation once in 18 months instead of every 12
months. This will make reservations easier for non-pleasure travellers.
As Dheeraj pointed out, this will discourage short-distance passengers
from using the superfast trains.

Regular trains: There already exists a different fare structure for mail
and express trains on one hand and passenger trains on the other. This
should be maintained. However I suggest a 15% surcharge on 2-class
sleepers and a 5% surcharge on 2-class reserved seats on mail/express
trains. There should be no reserved 2-class coaches on passenger trains
(it never works, anyway).

Railway season tickets: If I remember correctly, with a season ticket,
one can travel unrestricted any number of times between two points for
a month for the price of 8 round trips. I think that this is ridiculous.
I would suggest restricting the number of trips and significantly
increasing the cost of the season tickets. This is bound to raise an
uproar, but I feel that there is no reason the railways should bear the
responsibility of subsidizing office-goers and the like.

Changing the topic, I would like to offer a couple of comments on
Aravind's posting.

Tirunelveli-Madurai-Dindigul-Karur BG line: I believe that work is
proceding at least on the Madurai-Karur section. This involves
laying a new line from Karur to Dindigul and converting the existing
Dindigul-Tirunelveli MG line to BG. The good part is the provision of
a shoter BG link from Madras/Bangalore to southern TN via the existing
Erode-Karur-(Tiruchi) line. The bad part is the possible disruption of
the busy Madras-Madurai-Tirunelveli MG line. Are they going to retain
the MG line? Does anyone anything know about this?

I get very angry when I think about the 230 km long Bangalore City to
Salem MG line which goes via Hosur and Dharmapuri. This is shorter than
the Bangalore-Jolarpettai-Salem BG route by about 30 km or so. In fact
would have been even shorter but for the fact that it goes NORTH from
Bangalore City to Yeshwanthapur, proceeds east to Yelahanka and Hebbal
and then loops south crossing the Bangalore-Jolarpettai BG line near
Krishnarajapuram. The distance on this line from B'lore to Hosur is
70 km or so whereas the road distance is about 35 km. This line was
completed in the seventies and is scantily used. If the powers that
be had built a BG line instead this would have provided a convenient
link to Salem and beyond (from B'lore) bypassing Jolarpettai.

From: aravind <


Date: 17 Oct 1989 18:16:00 -0500

Hi folks,

Kumar wants to know the fate of the Madras-Tirunelveli
MG link when the Karur-?? BG project is completed. If I recall right,
the original plan was to lay a parallel BG line to the existing MG
line between Dindigul and Madurai (this passes thru Kodaikanal Road,
the agency for the famous "hill-station"). I don't quite remember what
was mumbled about the future of the MG line beyond Madurai. Anyhow, at
the time this was started (early 80s), I never thought that I'd live
to see it complete, so it didn't quite matter what was done
eventually. So it comes as a surprise to me that work IS proceeding
on the Karur-Madurai section.

Part of the impetus of this project may be the need to provide a
direct BG connection to Tuticorin (a major port).

The MG Salem-Bangalore link, a relic of the 70s, ranks up there in the
squandering of taxpayer money.
At one point, the only passenger train to traverse this entire section
was the quaint Bangalore-Tiruppapuliyur "Fast Passenger"; I wonder how
many people actually used this clunker to go between Bangalore and the
TN shore points around Pondicherry. Now I think that the train
goes to Nagore (confirm?). It passes the desolate Dharmapuri-Hosur
section (along the TN-Karnataka boundary) in both directions in the
dead of night, a region that is supposedly the breeding ground for
Naxalites and left-wing radicals. A safe journey is not assured.
Anyone recall if the train has ever been attacked?

The other white elephant in the South is the MG Hassan-Mangalore line,
which took about 17 years to finish (~1980). Is there still a "Fast
Passenger" between Bangalore and Mangalore? Does the
volume of goods traffic on this line remotely justify its creation?

Any other big MG construction projects on IR these days? In NEFR?



From: Vijay Balasubramanian <

Subject: Karur-Dindigul line and others!

Date: 18 Oct 1989 13:42:00 -0500

Hi Folks,

The Karur-Dindigul BG line has already been completed and is now in operation
with two Karur-Dindigul mixed trains running on this section. There are two
express trains running on the Erode-Tiruchi section, the Tiruchi-Cochin and the
Tiruchi-Bangalore Exp.

You might be aware of the existence of a BG lne between Tirunelveli and
Nagercoil. Hence, completion of the Dindigul-Maniyanchi- Tirunelveli/Tuticorin
BG line would not only provide a direct BG link between Madras/Bangalore and
Madurai/Tuticorin, but also a shorter link between Erode and Kanyakumari.
Hence, trains traveling via Erode to Trivandrum/Kanyakumari would use this line.
And, of course, it would bring Madurai and Tuticorin into the BG map.

I would assume that the Dindigul-Madurai portion of the current
MG line would still be retained in order that a direct MG link exists between
Madurai and N.E. Tamilnadu. I am not sure about the rest of the line (Madurai-
Tirunelveli/Tuticorin), in other words, the fate of the Nellai Exp. and the
Madras- Tuticorin Exp. Note that the Madras-Quilon Mail could still be routed
via Karaikkudi-Manamadurai-Virudunagar.

Aravind writes:
> At one point, the only passenger train to traverse this entire section
> was the quaint Bangalore-Tiruppapuliyur "Fast Passenger"; I wonder how
> many people actually used this clunker to go between Bangalore and the

The Bangalore fast passanger now goes to Nagore. I remember Kumar having
asked me the same question quite a while back!

> The other white elephant in the South is the MG Hassan-Mangalore line,
> which took about 17 years to finish (~1980). Is there still a "Fast
> Passenger" between Bangalore and Mangalore?

There is a fast passanger/Exp. between Bangalore and Mangalore, as also
the Arsikere-Mangalore Hemavathi Exp. And would you believe this: the
Mahalakhsmi Exp. no longer goes to Bangalore, but to Mangalore via
Arsikere-Hassan. It cuts down the Bombay-Mangalore traveling time to about
36 hrs, nearly 4 hrs. less than the superfast BG
Bombay-Mangalore Netravati Exp. which goes via Guntakal-Krishnarajpuram-
Jollarpettai-Shoranur. However, commuters have change trains
at Miraj, and that too, at rather odd hours. This also cuts off a daily
train between Bombay and Bangalore. Maybe the daily Udyan Exp. is sufficient
for Bombay-Bangalore commuters.

I have always wondered why there is no train from Mysore going to Miraj via
Arsikere. Maybe, they could split the Mahalakshmi Exp. at Hassan, and have
one part go tp Mysore.
I have often imagined a superfast exp. from Mysore to Miraj/Bombay V.T.

More later about my thought trains!



From: SC10000 <

Subject: Bangalore-Salem MG line etc.

Date: 18 Oct 1989 17:09:00 -0500

Hi folks,

First let me express my hope that the IRFCA/FACIR members (and others)
are safe in the aftermath of the San Francisco Bay area quake. Shaibal
Roy (Stanford) comes to mind.

It seems that even though the Bay bridge collapsed the BART (Bay Area
Rapid Transit) railway tunnel stayed intact even though a train was
reported stalled inside. (This tunnel connects Oakland with San
Francisco and is under the bay). All the passengers in the stalled train
are reported to have been safely evacuated.

Coming back to the discussion of the Bangalore-Salem MG line, I did
make one trip from Tiruppapuliyur (now renamed) to B'lore City on the
famous fast passenger. I was in a unreserved 2nd class compartment, but
I have never had more space to myself on a train!This train was like a
lone ranger traversing the thinly used Cuddalore-Vriddhachalam,
Vriddhachalam-Salem and the Salem-Bangalore sections. I remember passing
through Neyveli (of lignite fame) between Cuddalore and V'chalam.
Sometime at night at a place called Attur in the V'chalam-Salem stretch
when I was fully spread out,couple of guys got into the train. On seeing
me and a few others in the compartment they exclaimed "What! the train
is crowded! people are getting to know about this train!" Anyway only
people who are crazy would use this train to travel between B'lore
and Hosur, Dharmapuri and Salem.Apart from the odd hours of the train
there are frequent fast direct buses from B'lore to Hosur and Salem.
Direct buses to Dharmapuri are not as frequent, but one can take a bus
to Krishnagiri in TN and change easily to connect to Dharmapuri.
In fact Thiruvalluvar Transport Corp. (one of TN's state-owned bus
corporations) used to /runs (?) a daily bus from B'lore to Pondicherry
which took less time than the venerable fast passenger.

I haven't heard of reports about dacoities etc. on the Salem-Bangalore
line. True, Dharmapuri district is probably the poorest district in TN
and there is significant naxalite activity. But for some reason TN (and
other southern and western states) roads seem to be safer than the roads
in Bihar and parts of UP at night.I don't know why.

I think that the Hasan-Mangalore line should have been a BG line. If the
railways had budget restrictions they could have postponed its
construction and instead converted the Bangalore-Mysore line to BG. The
Karnataka govt. offered to pay for the land and provide wood for the
sleepers for the conversion. I think there should be a ban on any more
MG construction.

Bye for now, Kumar

From: Shaibal Roy <

Subject: Lot of shaking going on down here

Date: 19 Oct 1989 14:17:00 -0500

Thank you for your concern, Kumar and rest of the IRnuts. This
resident of the San Fransisco Bay Area is in good health.

The San Fransisco-Oakland Bay Bridge not expected to be usable
for at least three weeks or so. Fwy 880 will take much longer to
rebuild. Several other freeways are still off-limits. However,
the BART and CalTrans train services were back in service mere
hours after the quake. Now BART (not counting much a slower ferry
service) is the only direct link between San Fransisco and Oakland.
Kind of gives you a new respect for trains, doesn't it?

I am disappointed that IR has no immediate plans to electrify (is
that a good way to describe it? Can't think of a better way.) the
Kharagpur-Waltair section of the Howrah Madras route. I always
felt that the volume of passenger traffic on the Cuttack - Bhubaneshwar
- Puri route calls for EMU services.


From: Dheeraj Sanghi <

Subject: light railway for Delhi.

Date: 19 Oct 1989 16:52:00 -0500

I have heard that there is an article in the latest
India Today about the plans for light railway in Delhi. Would
somebody who has read the article, tell me what is light railway,
and what are the plans for Delhi.


From: aravind <

Subject: thought trains

Date: 20 Oct 1989 15:41:00 -0500

Now that the connection of Madurai to the BG network is imminent,
how 'bout some speculation like this ....

- a train from Madurai (the Meenakshi temple) to the Somnath temple
in Gujarat? I believe that the MG track from Viramgam to the west has
been (recently) converted to BG? Can someone confirm this?

- a train between Varanasi and Madurai?

- between Madurai and Gauhati (Guwahati?)

Do any of the trains running between odd points (I remember a
Cochin-Gorakhpur express in an '86 timetable) go daily? What is
the frequency of the Bby-Mangalore BG train that Vijay mentioned?

The idea of running the Mahalakshmi express to Mangalore is cute.
It never occurred to me that the powers-that-be would find such
uses for the Hassan-Mangalore link.

So let's indulge in some (wild) speculation. Some of it may even
come true!


From: SC10000 <

Subject: Mass transit

Date: 20 Oct 1989 16:17:00 -0500

Hi folks,

In response to Dheeraj's query, I believe that light railways run
on narrow gauges. I haven't read the India Today article and hence
I don't know the details.
However the light railway does seem like one of those scatter-brain
schemes that do nothing but waste public money. Remember the
"Parikrama Rail Seva"? This was supposed to be a circular loop
train service in Delhi. Turned out to be a big flop because the
train stations had no bus feeder routes. Also the commuter flow in
Delhi is radial and not circular.
The metro-rail in Calcutta is another money-sucker. There are existing
under-utilized electrified surface lines which could have substituted
for the metro if proper feeder buses had been provided. I can be more
specific if someone wants to take issue with me.
I am glad that they have shelved metro plans in Bombay and Madras.

Has the quadrupling of the Madras-Trivellore section been completed?
This was supposed to be done to increase the EMU frequency on the
industrial corridor in northwestMadras.

Bye for now, Kumar

From: Dheeraj Sanghi <

Subject: Re: Mass transit

Date: 21 Oct 1989 10:51:00 -0500


Kumar writes:
>However the light railway does seem like one of those scatter-brain
>schemes that do nothing but waste public money. Remember the
>"Parikrama Rail Seva"? This was supposed to be a circular loop
>train service in Delhi. Turned out to be a big flop because the
>train stations had no bus feeder routes. Also the commuter flow in
>Delhi is radial and not circular.

One reason that the Ring railway failed in Delhi was the extremely
high subsidies for DTC. DTC fares are the lowest in the whole country.
Also regarding the feeder bus service, if one has to take the bus,
one might as well take it to his/her office place directly. That will
surely be much faster. The traffic originating within Delhi will always
rely on DTC, unless DTC fares are comparable to that of trains and
stations are closer to residential colonies. But the trains can be
really useful in removing congestion on the traffic coming from outside.
There is always traffic jams on GT road (going to Ghaziabad in the east,
and Sonepat in the north), Mathura Road (going to Faridabad), Rohtak Road,
(going to Rohtak) and Delhi Jaipur National Highway (going to Gurgaon).
They do run some EMUs on Delhi Ghaziabad, and Delhi Faridabad routes,
but the frequency should be increased. The other lines (Rohtak, Sonepat,
and Gurgaon) are not electrified, and they should do it soon. (Gurgaon
is on MG, but they have electrified MG tracks elsewhere).

>The metro-rail in Calcutta is another money-sucker. There are existing
>under-utilized electrified surface lines which could have substituted
>for the metro if proper feeder buses had been provided.

Well, all public transport plans in India (and elsewhere too) are subsidized.
Even in this country, the most capitalist of all, the public transport
system get support from governments at various levels. In fact, the Bombay
locals, despite their being full all the time, probably make more losses
than the Calcutta metro. In fact, Railways has always resented running of
local services, since under the current scheme, they subsidize the locals,
which they say, should be subsidized by city/state.

>I am glad that they have shelved metro plans in Bombay and Madras.

I had read an article which was for creating metros in all major cities.
The logic went something like this. Metro in Calcutta cost many times
more than it should have mainly because of political problems. The state
government being of different party than Congress, the money allocated
every year was just enough to keep the project alive, and pay the salaries
of bureaucrats. So all the time, there were lot of people being paid for
doing nothing. And once you hire some heavy equipment, whether you are
using it or not, you have to pay the rent. That resulted in major cost
escalations. With better financial planning the costs can be trimmed quite
a lot. Second reason for delay and cost escalation was that most of
the work was done indigenously, and they faced problems that didn't expect,
and they had to work hard to find the solutions. Now that IR has experience
in building metros, it will result in much better plans for future metros.
Another reason suggested was that Calcutta was the wrong city for metro.
It was simply too congested. The article suggested that plans for metros
should appear when the city population exceeds half a million (or it was
probably less). In fact, it gave the population of lots of cities around
the world, when the metro construction started in those cities. Considering
this, it may not be a very good idea to have metro in Bombay/Madras/Delhi,
but surely they should have plans for other cities.

The above article, to the best of my memory, was in India Today, about
4-5 years ago.


From: SC10000 <

Subject: More on mass transit

Date: 21 Oct 1989 16:46:00 -0500

Hi folks,
I agree with Dheeraj that any public transportation system has to
receive some subsidy from the govt. The question is who gives the
subsidy and to what extent? Let us take the metro transit systems in
the four cities of Bombay, Delhi, Calcutta and Madras. We all know
that the DTC is heavily subsidised by the federal govt. The per capita
income of Delhi is one of the highest in the country. But the Central
govt. subsidises DTC with its tax rupees. In other words the rest of the
country is subsidising the relatively affluent Delhi-ites. As Dheeraj
points out, any rail system in Delhi is bound to flop unless it is
priced competitively with the DTC. Either the DTC has to jack up its
fares (which is unlikely for political reasons) or the metro-rail in
Delhi has to be subsidised by the Central govt. to the benefit of
the Delhi-ites. I don't mind subsidies as long as they are based on
local taxes as they are in this country. Let the citizens of Delhi pay
for any subsidies which would benefit them and them alone.

Of course the same holds true for any other city. I criticized the
Calcutta metro because Calcutta has quite a few electrified surface
lines going through residential centers which are extremely
under-utilized. Why? Because the bus fares in Calcutta are very low.
This explains why the buses are always crowded and in a sorry shape.
Wouldn't it have been more prudent to try and utilize the existing
infrastructure before venturing on to the highly-subsidised Metro?
But then fiscal responsibility has never been a major concern for
our politicians. The marxists in Calcutta wanted it as a show-piece
to signify their progress (?). Calcutta doesn't get as big a subsidy
from the centre as does Delhi and hence the pitiable state of the
state-owned buses etc. There is a large privately-owned fleet of buses
in Calcutta, but they are maintained as cattle-cars. They run, they are
packed and they are torture to travel in.

Bombay and Madras have priced their bus fares much higher. The result is
that these two cities probably have the best bus systems in India. Both
are helped by a local train-system. I don't know much about Bombay and
my comments are limited to Madras. The World bank is responsible for the
Madras bus fares being fairly high as it has given loans for the
improvement of the bus fleet. Increased fares was the condition on the
loans. Madras has under-utilized surface lines, but the EMU frquency
on those lines (Madras-Trivellore and Madras-Gummidipundi) has probably
been increased. The metro-rail plan in Madras called for a line (undergr
-ound in sections) between Madras Beach and Tiruvanmiyur to the south.
The first stage was supposed to be the section between Beach and Luz
in the Mylapore area. Underground stretches are necessary because
the Beach-Luz section will traverse through old developed areas. My
feeling is that it would be a better idea to run a surface line from
a point south of Guindy (on the Beach-Tambaram line) to
Tiruvanmiyur.The Luz area is well served by buses and doesn't need
a metro line.

Changing the topic, I am interested to know the routes Aravind plans to
run the Somnath-Madurai and the Guwahati-Madurai expresses. Are they
going to be called the Somnath-Meenakshi and the Kamakhya-Meenakshi
expresses respectively? What about a Panaji-Rameswaram express? This
would traverse via Londa, Belgaum, Hubli-Dharwar, Bangalore City,
Dharmapuri, Salem, Vriddhachalam, Tiruchi, Karaikkudi, Ramanathapuram
and on to Rameswaram. Could be called the Coconut Beach express. Of
course, it would run on MG.

Bye for now, Kumar

From: Dheeraj Sanghi <

Subject: Re: More on mass transit

Date: 21 Oct 1989 23:28:00 -0500


Kumar writes:

>I agree with Dheeraj that any public transportation system has to
>receive some subsidy from the govt. The question is who gives the
>subsidy and to what extent? Let us take the metro transit systems in
>the four cities of Bombay, Delhi, Calcutta and Madras. We all know
>that the DTC is heavily subsidised by the federal govt. The per capita
>income of Delhi is one of the highest in the country. But the Central
>govt. subsidises DTC with its tax rupees. In other words the rest of the
>country is subsidising the relatively affluent Delhi-ites. As Dheeraj
>points out, any rail system in Delhi is bound to flop unless it is
>priced competitively with the DTC. Either the DTC has to jack up its
>fares (which is unlikely for political reasons) or the metro-rail in
>Delhi has to be subsidised by the Central govt. to the benefit of
>the Delhi-ites. I don't mind subsidies as long as they are based on
>local taxes as they are in this country. Let the citizens of Delhi pay
>for any subsidies which would benefit them and them alone.

May be this posting is outside the purview of IRFCA, but .....

It is true that all the losses of all the Central Govt. undertakings
in Delhi (like DESU, DTC, DDA, and host of others) are assumed by
Central Govt. (To be very technical, the equivalent amount is given
to the undertaking as loan, which we all know will be written off
at some point of time.) But it is wrong to say that rest of the country
pays for it. In fact, if you add all yearly losses of all these
undertakings and the budget for Delhi, that is LESS than the amount
of tax collection in Delhi. In fact, almost all local leaders have
always demanded that Delhi be made a state and all these organizations
be put under the state control, financially and administratively.
But central government doesn't do that mainly because if Delhi is
declared as a state (with a central capital district which will continue
to have federal control), the central govt. will lose lots of revenue.
(The only major revenue that will go to Centre will be Income Tax and
Customs - most other taxes will go to State.)

The argument I have heard against subsidizing various Delhi undertakings
is that taxes are meant to work as equalizer, and therefore Delhi does not
have a right to all the taxes that are collected in Delhi. (I, by the way,
agree with this argument, and am very much in favour of increasing DTC
fares, electricity prices, and so on. I don't understand why all students
in Delhi should have a right to free travel in all DTC buses (well almost
free. 12.50 doesn't buy anything in India these days.) Till 5 years ago
they could travel only in 90% of the buses - they were not allowed in
deluxe, limited stops and some other services, now they are allowed in
every bus except the airport service.)

I hope to end the topic here.


From: Dheeraj Sanghi <

Subject: Re: Indrail Pass

Date: 22 Oct 1989 17:23:00 -0500

In article < you write:
>I read a posting about Indrail Pass sometime ago in the network. I
>would like to hear about experiences of people who used it.
>Particularly does having the pass guarantee a reserved seat/berth
>in trains?

No, the Indrail pass does not guarantee a reserved seat/birth. But when it
was discussed on the net last time, the consensus seemed to be that there is
enough foriegn tourist quota in many important trains and reservation is
generally no problem with Indrail pass.

Indian Railway does have a scheme in which they guarantee reservations, if
you can decide your itinery 3 months in advance, which is usually very
difficult to do.

>To reduce net traffic, please e-mail and I shall
>summarize if there are enough responses.


Dheeraj Sanghi (h):301-345-6024 (o):301-454-1516
Internet: UUCP: uunet!mimsy!dheeraj
Marriage is the sole cause of divorce.

From: Vijay Balasubramanian <

Subject: Thought trains!

Date: 23 Oct 1989 13:31:00 -0500

Hi Folks,

Feels good to get back onto the track (pun intended) after a
mini-brake (break). Relieved to learn that Shaibal and other San Franciscan
friends are fine. A friend of mine, who's working for HP, had just left his
building for his journey back home, when all of a sudden the buildings around
him started swaying not to mention the very earth beneath him. Fortunately
nothing serious happened, though he was a bit shaken up.

While on the subject of public transporatation......, did you guys read the
article about the prospect of a metro system in Delhi, in the latest India
Today? The article describes the pros and cons of establishing such a system
in our Capital and the foreign collaborators that are showing interest in this
matter, and then goes on to discuss the state of affairs surrounding
the current metro system in Calcutta.

I'll come back to this article a little later, but first let
me divulge the long-awaited(?) list of my thought trains (I am not mentioning
certain minute details such as color of rakes, exact time schedule, etc.,
for most of these trains).

Warning: What follows is a train-nut's voyage into fantasy!

An asterisk(*) after a station indicates that it is a recent halt.

1. Mahasagar Exp.:- Bombay V.T.- Madras Central superfast,
1 AC (AC first class), 2 AC (AC 2-tier sleeper), AC Chair
Car, 1 & 2,
Five days a week,
Four halts- Pune, Solapur, Guntakal, Renigunta*
Around 19 1/2 hrs. traveling time
Dep. Bombay around 11.00 a.m., arr. Madras around 6.30 a.m. (next day)
Dep. Madras around 6.00 p.m., arr. Bombay around 2.00 p.m. ( " " )
Color:- White and Blue (color arrangement similar to, say, that on
the early Gitanjali or Coromandel Exp.)
Note that the color combination matches the name viz., Ocean
Runs instead of the existing Chennai Exp. (which I consider as an
insult to the concept of a superfast inter-metropolis exp.)

2. Lalbagh Exp. :- Bombay V.T.-Bangalore superfast,
1 AC - AC Chair Car (composite), 2 AC, 1 & 2
Two days a week (runs on non-Mahasagar days)
(Nearly) same schedule as Mahasagar Exp. on their common route
Five halts- Pune, Solapur, Wadi*, Guntakal, Dharmavaram*
Color: Green and Yellow (same as original K.K. Exp.)

3. Vivekananda Exp. :- Bombay V.T. - Trivandrum Central superfast,
2 AC, 1 & 2
Halts:- Pune, Solapur, Wadi*, Guntakal, Renigunta, Erode,
Coimbatore, Ernakulam Town, Quilon*
Around 32 1/2 hrs
Color: Red and Yellow (same as original Gitanjali/Coromandel Exp.)
Has 21 coaches between Bombay and Coimbatore (hauled by twin diesel)
One portion goes to Mangalore from Coimbatore, once a week
On the other day, this portion goes from Coimbatore to Cochin

4. Konkan Exp. :- Bombay V.T. - Bangalore/Mysore superfast,
B.G. Exp. -> Bombay V.T., Dadar (Up. dirn. only), Pune,
Satara*, Miraj
Day train
AC Chair Car, 1 & 2

M.G. Exp. -> two days to Mysore, other day to Bangalore
2 AC, 1 & 2
Miraj, Belgaum, Dharwad*, Hubli, Harihar*, Birur,
- Tumkur*, Bangalore City
- Arsikere*, Hassan, Krishnarajanagar*, Mysore

5. Orissa Exp. :- Bombay V.T. - Puri superfast,
Shares rakes with Lalbagh Exp.
Halts:- Dadar(Up. dirn. only), Igatpuri, Nasik Rd., Manmad,
Bhusaval, Akola, Badnera, Wardha, Nagpur, Gondia,
Rajnandgaon*, Durg, Raipur, Bilaspur, Raigarh,
Jharsuguda, Raurkela, Chakradharpur, Kharagpur, Balasore,
Cuttack, Bhubhaneswar, Khurda Rd., Puri

6. Himnagri Exp.:- Bombay V.T. - Kalka superfast,
1 AC, 2 AC, 1 & 2
Halts:- Nasik Rd., Manmad, Bhusaval, Khandwa*, Itarsi, Bhopal,
Bina, Jhansi, Gwalior*, Agra Cant, New Delhi, Panipat*,
Ambala Cant, Chandigarh, Kalka
Color:- Orange and White (color arrangement same as original
Kalka Mail)

7. Orange Exp. :- Bombay V.T. - Nagpur superfast,
Shares rakes with Himnagri Exp.
Halts:- Nasik Rd*, Bhusaval, Akola, Badnera
Four days a week
Around 13 hrs.

More thought trains in my next mail. Constructive criticism of the above trains
will be appreciated.



From: Vijay Balasubramanian <

Subject: More thought trains (ugh!)

Date: 23 Oct 1989 15:18:00 -0500

Hi guys,

Continuing on the fantasy story.....

1. Errata:- Himnagri Exp. also stops at Dadar (Up. dirn. only)

2. Jayanti Janata Exp.:- Bombay V.T. - New Dehi superfast,
2 only (truly classless)
Halts:- Bhusaval, Bhopal, Jhansi
About 20 1/2 hrs.
Color:- Red and White (original Deluxe Exp. color)
(vacillated between other names such as Indira Gandhi Exp.,
Qutub Minar Exp., etc.)

3. Bombay - Guwahati Exp. (via Nagpur-Howrah):- superfast,
2 AC, 1 & 2,
Halts:- Nasik Rd., Manmad, Bhusaval, Akola, Nagpur, Gondia*, Durg,
Raipur, Bilaspur, Jharsuguda, Tatanagar, Kharagpur, Howrah,
Katwa, Azimganj, Malda Town, Kishanganj, New Jalpaiguri,
New Coochbehar, New Alipurduar, New Bongaigoan, Rangiya,
Kamakhya, Guwahati
Takes about 2-2 1/2 hrs. more than my upgraded version of the
Gitanjali Exp. (my Gitanjali exp. takes about 30 hrs. between
Bombay and Howrah, and doesn't stop at Kalyan, Gondia, Jharsuguda,
and Kharagpur)
Color:- Green, yellow and grey (Hwh.-Bombay ML via Nagpur used to
have this color once upon a time)

4. Bombay - Guwahati Exp. (via Mughal Sarai - Barauni):- superfast,
shares rakes with the its counterpart (2.) above
Halts:- Nasik Rd., Manmad, Bhusaval, Khandwa*, Itarsi, Jabalpur,
Katni*, Satna, (bypasses Allahabad), Mughal Sarai, Danapur,
Patna, Barauni, Begusarai, Khagaria, Thanabihpur, Katihar,
Kishanganj, New Jalpaiguri, New Coochbehar, New Alipurduar,
New Bongaigaon, Rangiya, Kamakhya, Guwahati
Has same schedule as 2. in the Bombay-Bhusaval section
Takes about 2-3 hrs. less than 2.

5. Malviya Exp.:- Bombay V.T. - Varanasi superfast,
1 AC, 2 AC, 1 & 2
Halts:- Manmad, Bhusaval, Itarsi, Jabalpur, Allahabad
Around 22 1/2 hrs.
Color:- Red, Blue and Yellow (original Ganga Kaveri Exp.

6. Uttar Pradesh Exp.:- Bombay V.T. - Dehra Dun superfast,
Shares (all the 21 coaches) with Vivekananda Exp.
Halts:- Kalyan*, Nasik Rd., Manmad, Jalgaon*, Bhusaval, Khandwa,
Itarsi, Bhopal, Jhansi, Gwalior, Agra Cant, Tundla,
Aligrah, Chandausi, Moradabad, Laksar, Haridwar, Dehra Dun
A portion goes to Muzaffarpur from Jhansi as the Uttar Pradesh
Link Exp.:- Jhansi, Orai*, Kanpur Central, Unnao*, Lucknow,
Gonda, Basti, Gorakhpur, Siwan, Chhapra*, Sonpur,
Samastipur, Muzaffarpur

7. Gomti Narmada Exp. :- Bombay Central - Lucknow superfast,
2 AC, 1 & 2
Halts:- Surat, Vadodara, Ratlam, Kota, Gangapur City*,
Agra Fort, Tundla, Kanpur Central
Color:- Malviya Exp. color

8. Anushakti Exp. :- Bombay Central - Kota superfast,
2 AC, 1 & 2
Halts:- Dadar (Up. dirn. only), Valsad, Surat, Vadodara,
Godhra, Ratlam
Color:- Brown and white (original Frontier/Kalka ML color)
Note: My upgraded version of the Rajdhani Exp. doesn't
stop at Kota, halts at Vadodara for 5 mts., at
Ratlam for 12 mts., and at Gangapur City (technical
halt) for 5 mts.; hence, its halt scenario is very
similar to the Howrah Rajdhani.

9. Gandhigram Exp. :- Bombay Central - Ahmedabad superfast,
1 AC, AC Chair Car, 1 & 2
Six days a week
Day train, takes about 8 hrs.
Halts:- Surat, Vadodara
Color:- Green and Yellow (original K.K. exp. color)
hauled by WCAM locomotive with same color

10. Rajasthan Queen Exp. :- Bombay Central - Ahmedabad - Jaipur superfast
Color: Red, Blue, and white (original GT exp. color)

B.G. Exp.:- AC Chair Car, 1 & 2
Day train
Halts:- Valsad*, Surat, Vadodara

M.G. Exp. :- 2 AC, 1 & 2
Mahesana, Abu Rd., Marwar, Ajmer

11. Kailash Exp.:- Howrah - Varanasi superfast,
1 AC, AC Chair Car, 1 & 2,
Six days a week
Day train, takes about 9 1/2 hrs.
Halts:- Dhanbad, Gaya, Mughal Sarai
Color:- White and Brown (original Kalka Ml color)
has only one halt more than the Rajdhani viz., Gaya in the
Howrah - Mughal Sarai section
takes < 1 hr. more than the Rajdhani to travel the
Howrah - Mughal Sarai section

12. Rajasthan Exp. :- Howrah - Agra Fort - Jaipur superfast,
Color:- Red with black stripes

B.G. Exp.:- 2 AC, 1 & 2
Howrah, Asansol, Dhanbad, Gaya, Mughal Sarai,
Varanasi, Allahabad, Kanpur Central, Tundla,
Agra Fort

M.G. Exp. :- Agra Fort, Bharatpur, Bandikui, Jaipur

13. Kamakhya Exp. :- Varanasi - Guwahati superfast (M.G. exp.),
original route changed due to B.G. coversion of
Barauni-Katihar track
2 AC, 1 & 2
Halts:- Ballia, Chhapra, Sonpur, Bachchwara* (has to now
change dirn. here), Samastipur* (due to rerouting),
Khagaria, Mansi*, Saharsa* (due to rerouting),
Purnia* (due to rerouting), Katihar, Kishanganj,
Siliguri, Newmal*, Alipurduar, New Bongaigaon,
Rangiya, Kamakhya*, Guwahati
Color:- Blue with yellow stripes (original Cholan Exp.

Other trains of mine include (I can expand on them if some of you so

(i) North West Exp. :- Bombay V.T./Central - Jammu Tawi, slower than the
Bombay-Ferozpore Punjab Ml/ Frontier Mail, runs via
Vadodara-Ratlam-Kota-New Delhi-Rohtak-Ambala Cant-Amritsar-Gurdaspur-
Pathankot on some days, runs via Bhusval-Bhopal-Jhansi-New Delhi-
Saharanpur-Ambala Cant-Jullundhar Cant-Mukerian-Pathankot on some other
days, on remaining days follows latter route but via Panipat-Amritsar.

(ii) Dadar - Ranchi Exp. :- Four days a week, slower than the Hwh. Bombay Ml via
Nagpur, Route:-Bhusaval-Nagpur-Bilaspur-Raurkela-

I hope I haven't bored you to death (I had let you know this aspect of my
my time-table reserach),



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