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From: Vijay Balasubramanian <vbs@plumpy.email

Subject: Busy times!

Date: 21 Feb 1990 09:19:00 -0500


Hi Folks,

I have been busy these last few days preparing for my first interview at
Purdue Univ., on the 28th of this month. I am somehow keeping myself from
rambling about my train journeys on the net. But I don't think I can manage it
for long.

Incidently, I got hold of a few copies of "Indian Railways", a monthly
magazine published by the Ministry of Railways (I think). It seems to be
reasonably good in reporting recent occurences in Indian Railways. The
annual subscripton is only 8.5 dollars. One has to communicate to:

The Director,
Public Relations
Indian Railways
Rail Bhavan
New Delhi 110001

I not not sure as to whom to make the check payable to. Ministry of Railways? Indian Railways? Public Relations Officer?

Bye for now

Vijay

P.S.: Why is the club so silent?

From: Vijay Balasubramanian <vbs@plumpy.email

Subject: Bombay to Bhusaval (Part I)

Date: 24 Feb 1990 15:51:00 -0500


Hi Folks,

Thought I'll take my mind off interviews and jobs for a while and get on to
THE most interesting topic! BTW, here's the email address of Mr. Train-Nut-from-IIT-Bombay:
Vasudev Kamath
vasu%cse%betaal%shakti@uunet.email

He is keen on becoming an IRFCAite.


Coming to the topic of engine rides..... It all started when I learnt that
a friend of mine (from Urbana) was planning to visit Bombay in winter, and more
importantly, his father was in the railways. I pestered him no end about
requesting his Dad to arrange for a ride in a DC engine between Bombay and
Igatpuri. Once in India, we were in touch by phone. I even went to his house
for lunch and "impressed" (in my friend's words) his father with a barrage of
queries about locomotive operation and the like.

And then one day, Mr. Friend called me up and inquired whether I was
interested in an engine ride till Igatpuri. He was going to receive his
sister who was traveling by the Gitanjali Exp. from Nagpur to Bombay, and he
didn't mind intercepting her at Igatpuri. A friend of his father was supposed
to man the locomotive of the Bombay-Gorakhpur Exp. till Igatpuri.
UNFORTUNATELY, I had other plans for that day and had to sadly respond in the
negative.

But luck was on my side. It so happened that one of my uncles was
transfered to Bhusaval as the Divisional Railway Manager. He had always been
a good source of "train-news" to me, and would furnish me with recent occurences
and send me calenders, pamphlets, etc. On phoning him up, I learnt that my
cousins (his daughters) were vacating in Bhusaval and were due to
leave for Delhi/Lucknow in a few days. So I was to proceed to Bhusaval ASAP.
I had already expressed my desire to travel by engine and he said he would
dispatch an inspector from Bhusaval who would take care of my engine ride from
Igatpuri to Bhusaval. I was to commute by the Bombay - Lucknow superfast
Pushpak Exp. which leaves Bombay V.T. around 8.00 a.m. and reaches Bhusaval
around 3.30 p.m. In fact, Mr. Friend's father had suggested this train adding
that he would be glad to arrange for the DC electric loco. ride from Bombay to
Igatpuri. That meant a > 7 hr. ride in a locomotive. Wow! My dream was about
to come true.

This auspicious journey was planned on the first day of the new 1990.
What a way to start off my year! I slept late the previous night having
freaked-out at a New Year's Eve get-together in our building. The night was
spent in excitement and anticipation. I promptly got up at 6.00 and left the
house by 6.45. Darn! There were no autos anywhere in sight.
A couple of taxis were camoflauged in the darkness. After an agonizing 5 mt.
argument with the driver, I convinced him to take me to Ghatkopar stn. A 10 mt.
drive ensued during which he stated his "predicament" about not getting
'BHADA' (passangers) at the station.

The local train ride to V.T. consumed about 40 mts. and I was at the
appropriate platform around 7.50. I proceeded towards the WCM-1 locomotive.
I was to meet my friend's pop, as his presence would be helpful. He was there
about 10 mts. before departure. He introduced me to the drivers and even took
a photo of mine as leaning from the engine door. My Vivitar Automatic was
to prove a very useful companion on all my train journeys.

And that concludes the first segment on the loco ride thru' the ghats.

Here's some of the recent changes that I found out

1. The Delhi-Kanpur Shatabdi Exp. has been extended till Lucknow. I am not
aware of the arr./dep. times at Lucknow.

2. Gomti Exp. now stops at Tundla.

3. GT Exp. now stops at Ghoradongri and Hingaghat (between Wardha East &
Chandrapur).

4. Delhi- Madras electrification is complete except for the Itarsi-Nagpur
stretch. Also, doubling of single line sections in this stretch
is being carried out.

5. Gitanjali Exp. now stops at Badnera

6. The average train length seems to have gone up. At least, the trains I
traveled in had 16-18 coaches.

7. Madras-Bangalore trains such as the Brindavan Exp. are double-diesel hauled.
This is needed to encounter steep inclines Bangarapet and Kuppam (confirm?);
they have ~18 coaches.

8. Brindavan Exp. has got back its Green-with-white-stripes color.

9. Bombay Bangalore Udyan Exp. is now double-diesel hauled between Solapur and
Bangalore. Four coaches get attached/detached at Solapur.

10. Bhusaval-Shegaon (~100 km.)is now energized. Remaining portion of the
Bhusaval-Durg section is being electrified (or overhead equipment is being
tested).

11. Tamilnadu Exp. and Andhra Pradesh Exp. now stop at Gwalior and Itarsi, the
latter being only a technical halt for change of locomotives.


And that's all for now.


Watch out for Part II of Bombay-Bhusaval!


Regards,
Vijay

From: Dheeraj Sanghi <dheeraj@cs.email

Subject: Railway Budget

Date: 26 Feb 1990 01:19:00 -0500


The following article appeared in SCI. Just in case you missed it.
-dheeraj
----------------------------------------------------------------

From: prasad@herky.email (B.S.Prasad.)
Newsgroups: soc.culture.indian
Date: 25 Feb 90 20:01:56 GMT
Organization: U of Iowa, Iowa City, IA

3) PREVIEW OF THE RAILWAY BUDGET TO BE INTRODUCED ON 03/14.

The forthcoming budget is likely to introduce a new superfast train
from Muzaffarpur (Fernandes' constituency) to Bombay that will do the run
in 32 instead of the current 42 hours. Muzaffarpur is also likely to be
connected with Howrah and Ahmedabad on a higher frequency basis. The
rationale behind the introduction of the superfast is that employment
opportunities will grow as a consequence! The train will touch Manmad,Bina,
Jhansi, Kanpur, Lucknow, Gorakhpur and Chhapra before reaching Muzz.


The other express trains to be introduced are from Surat to
Varanasi and Ranchi to Varanasi via Bokaro. The existing superfast from
Gwalior (ex-Railway Minister's Constituency) to Bombay is likely to be
withdrawn on the ground that there are not enough passengers to travel by
it.

Rail Bhavan in laying emphasis on the railway minister's consti-
tuenciy, is only following a pattern. During Kamalapati's tenure, Delhi was
linked with Varanasi. Madhu Dandavate linked Delhi with Pune (Jhelum Exp).
A.B.A. Ghani Khan Chowdhury took the cake by bestowing Malda with all that
was humanly possible. And Scindia took care to enhance the importance of
Gwalior in particular and MP in general.

All programmes like electrification and work on new lines would be
in "slow motion" owing to paucity of funds. "The grandiose computerisation
plans will have to be given the go by. Only those computerisation pro-
grammes that are nearing completion will be completed", said Mr Fernandes.
---------------------------------------------------------------------

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

Subject: USA by Amtrak

Date: 03 Mar 1990 16:21:00 -0500


Hi folks,

Long time no write!!

I am about to embark on a journey across the US by Amtrak. I get to go
on the "California Zephyr" via Denver, Salt Lake City to Oakland (from
Missouri). I then plan to take the "Coast Starlight" from San Jose to
LA. After attending a conference in Anaheim, I return to Missouri by the
"Southwest Chief". The total cost of the Amtrak ticket (coach class) is
$241.00 The Amtrak brochure claims that the ride between Denver and
Salt Lake City is truly exhilarating. I shall see!

Kumar

From: Dheeraj Sanghi <dheeraj@cs.email

Subject: New members

Date: 07 Mar 1990 11:03:00 -0500


Hello everyone,
It gives me great pleasure to welcome three new members
to the mailing list. They are:

Manish Malhotra malhotra@cs.email
Mukunda Kantamneni kmukunda@umaxc.email
Jishnu Mukherjee jis@mtgzx.email

Those of you who read SCI must have recognized these names as
they have written a lot about IR on the net lately. I certainly
hope that with the infusion of "fresh blood", this list shall
become more active.

Manish has sent me the following message:

Thanks for telling me about IRFCA. I have sent a mail
to the address you mentioned. Why don't we have a discussion on
some of the enjoyable train journeys in India, ie. the routes
which are beautiful. My favorite is Mangalore-Bangalore line, although I
have forgotten a lot about it. It would be nice to hear about this from
others on the net. What do you think ?

---------
Well Manish, we had a discussion on enjoyable train journeys, as well
as on what new trains we would like to see introduced by IR. We would
certainly like to hear from you about your favourite routes/trains/
stations etc.

By the way, I have kept an archive of all the messages on the mailing
list so far. It is about 600 K bytes. If any of the new members want
to look at our "proceedings" so far, then may be I can send them all
this.

Does anyone know whether Railway Budget has been presented, and if yes,
any price increases, new projects, new services etc.

Vijay, we are still waiting for your "Bombay to Bhusaval (part II)."

Does anyone know the timing of Delhi-Lucknow Shatabdi Exp.

thanks,
-dheeraj

From: Vijay Balasubramanian <vbs@plumpy.email

Subject: Welcome!

Date: 07 Mar 1990 15:00:00 -0500


Hi Folks,

I am glad to learn that our club has expanded; a warm welcome to the
new members, Manish, Mukunda and Jishnu! The list now looks like:

P. Selwyn selwyn@delta.email
Dheeraj Sanghi dheeraj@seine.email
S. Kumar sc10@nemomus.email kumar@mps.email
Narayan S. Raja raja@cpsvax.email raja%cpsvax.cps.msu.edu@uunet.email
Deodatta R. Apte kumar@iec.email
Dhrubes Biswas sandie2@uicsl.email
Chitta Baral chitta@konark.email
Shriram Revankar revankar@cs.email
Shaibal Roy roy@neon.email
K. Sridhar ksri@wafer.email
Arun Kumar kumar@wucs1.email
Sanjay Saigal saigal@rice.email
Rabindra Roy roy@bach.email
T. K. Lakshman lakshman@m.email
Aravind aravind@vax135.email
V. Krishnaswamy venky@vax135.email
(?) Devdas Pai pai@vanity.email
Manish Malhotra malhotra@cs.email
Mukunda Kantamani kmukunda@umaxc.email
Jishnu Mukherjee jis@mtgzx.email

(My address is vbs@plumpy.email

We have 21 members at present, and I sure would like to see more responses
from all you guys. I just read some of the recent articles on locomotives
in sci, and found them quite interesting.

I have written about diesel and electric locomotives in the past (Dheeraj's
archives are a testimoney to that), but here are some of comments (inspired by
my recent India trip) on what's been the subject of current discussion in sci:

I have seen old pamphlets quoting the Bombay Rajdhani's speed as 130 kmph.,
but I doubt whether it still holds. I believe both the Rajdhani's now travel
at 120 kmph. max. The Bombay Rajdhani exp. has been recently speeded by about
1/2 hr. each direction with the result that it covers the 1384 km. Bombay
Central-New Delhi distance in 16 hrs. 15/30 mts. It also has a 20 mt. halt at
Ratlam which is used for locomotive changeovers between the twin WDM-2 and a
single WAP1. The Bombay Rajdhani has a very high avg. speed in the Ratlam
-Delhi section (~90 kmph.). This drops down to about 62 kmph. in the
Vadodara-Ratlam section. Bombay-Vadodara has about 84 kmph.

The Shatabdi's (Bhopal and Lucknow) are hauled by WAP-3 locomotives, which
are updated versions of the WAP1. These have been equipped with superior
bogies and braking equipment. They are capable of going at 160 kmph. max,
but track conditions restricts the speed to 145 kmph. between Delhi and
Jhansi. Due to shortage of WAP-3 locos., the declared speed for the
Lucknow Shatabdi is only 120 kmph. max. It has a ~15 mt. halt at Kanpur
Central where it changes locos (Kanpur-Lucknow is unelectrified).

There is also a shortage of WCAM1 locos. currently operating in the
Bombay Central - Ahmedabad section. These are longer than their WAM4
counterparts, which restricts their max. speed to 90 kmph. (Speeds higher
than this cause them to vibrate violently). There is no plan to design a
high speed WCAP-1 for the Bombay Rajdhani. The 3-phase electric locomotive,
(technology is currently under experimentation) if and when introduced, will
be capable of running on both AC and DC traction.

My recent journey on the WCM1 and WAM4 locomotives (description to follow
in next mail) indicated the max. speed, as observed on the speedometer, as
100 kmph. I also got hold of a working time-table for Central Rly. which
lists the actual max. speeds of all trains, express or passanger, on various
sections (besides a whole lot of other info. which I still need to go thru').
I observed 105 kmph. to be the max. speed for express trains, on the
Igatpuri-Bhusaval section. Passanger trains have a max. speed of 75 kmph.

This then seems to be the speed scenario for Indian trains (comments/suggestions/updates welcome!):

145 kmph.- Bhopal Shatabdi Exp.
120 kmph.- Rajdhani Exps., Lucknow Shatabdi Exp.
105 kmph.- express and mail trains, 100 kmph. being the max.
speed in most of the sections
75 kmph.- passanger trains

I wonder what is the max. speed of the Chandigrah Shatabdi. 105 kmph.
perhaps.

Of course, IR operates many of its trains with less than the max. speed
in a large chunk of their journey routes. I haven't quite figured out the
reason behind this. A simple example is the
Bhopal-Jhansi section: the Shatabdi Exp. takes about 3 hrs., the TN, AP,
Kerala, Karnataka and GT exps. take about 3 hrs. 35 mts., and the rest of the
mail/fast express trains take about 4 - 4/12 hrs. This also indicates how
powerful the WAM4 locomotive is, since, the 21 coach TN/GT/Kerala/Karnataka
Exps. are hauled by solitary WAM4s.


Digressing on to the topic of locomotive models, I remember having
spotted the WAM1 and WAM3 locos. in the Howrah-Mughal Sarai section. The
"straight-faced" WAM1 loco., based on French design, hauls passanger trains.
The "slant-faced" WAM3 hauls express trains. I have also noticed the
"slant-faced" WAG3 and the "straight-faced" WAG4 in this stretch as well as
the Igatpuri-Bhusaval section. All the above four loco types are Bo-Bo which
means that they have four 2-wheeled bogies.
Can you folks enlighten me as to the whereabouts of the WAG1-2, and WAM2
locos.? I must have come across these but without explicitly observing the
model types. How about the ones on the Madras-Vijayawada section? The Co-Co
type WAM4 is, of course, the most commonly observed express train loco.
On this trip to India, I noticed a new WAG-5 loco. This is a Co-Co type (12
wheeled loco.) having a different window/ventilator design from the WAM4.
And then you have the WAM4B locos. on the Kottavalasa-Kirandul section,
usually seen operating as multiple units (usually three per unit).

The WDM-2's are the most common. How about the WDM1's? You might
have noticed some express diesel locos. differing from the common WDM-2s
in that they have windows at one of their "faces". And then there are the
12 wheeled shunting diesel locos. (not to be confused with the 6 wheeled
diesel shunters) which I have seen in operation at the Mughal Sarai and
Itarsi marshalling yards.


Before I wind up my this mail, let me give you some food for thought:

How about having a daily Bombay Central - Ahmedabad Shatabdi Exp.
covering the 540-odd km. (?) distance in about 6 hrs. The 9 coach fully
air-conditioned train will be hauled by a single WDM-2 (with high gear ratio,
as employed for the Bombay Rajdhani). The max. speed will be 120 kmph.
The train will halt only at Surat (5 mts.) and Vadodara (10 mts.) enroute.
It will leave Bombay Central around 6.00 a.m. and reach Ahmedabad around 12
noon. The same train will leave Ah'dbd around 2.45 pm. arriving at Bombay
Central around 9.00 p.m.

Passanger traffic between Bombay and Ahmedabad seems to justify such
a train. I was informed that the daily Gujarat mail now has 21 coaches.
Also many trains leaving Bombay and passing via Ah'dbd "shed" some of their
coaches at this station.


I have just received a reply from Mr. Puskhar Apte
(apte@glacier.email indicating his willingness to join our club.
Dheeraj, could you please add his name to our list? Thanks.


That's all for now,

Regards,
Vijay

From: Manish Malhotra <malhotra@cs.email

Subject:

Date: 07 Mar 1990 22:26:00 -0500


Hi Guys !

The idea of a shatabadi between A'bad and B'bay is not bad at all.
There is a lot of traffic on this route. Surat is becoming more and more
important as a commercial centre. (lot of trade there ). If I am not
mistaken, last year a new airport was constructed ( perhaps the old one
revamped ), and Vayudoot had plans of operating from there.

However, the businessmen would prefer a train ( if travelling from Bombay
to Surat, or A'bad - Surat ) to an airplane, because of the nasty
delays . The trains take barely a few hours and for most of the Gujarati
Businessmen, many deals are struck while travelling !! They kinda enjoy
their frequent journeys ! There are so many trains on this route at
the peak morning-evening hours that there is usually no delay for these
businessmen.

Now this is a sector where railways beat the roadways and the air-ways.
So the railways should spend a lot on this sector. I am not sure if
the Bhopal Shatabadi runs full. At least in the beginning, there would
be plenty of passengers until Agra but onwards, nope . The cities
of Jhansi, Bhopal , and Gwalior (to some extent ) are not the kind
from where one would expect lot of passengers.

Many businessmen from Bhopal prefer Indian Airlines to Shatabadi.
And the largest trade center in MP is Indore, not Bhopal. I am still
looking for a really good reason as to why this Shatabadi, has been
extended from Gwalior to Jhansi, and later to Bhopal.

Of course, the railway minister was from MP, and he did a good job
for MP by starting Indore-Bombay, Indore-Delhi (Malwa exp), Indore-Kochin,
Ujjain- Haridwar trains, but Shatabadi is just a bad example.

More later ;

Manish

From: Pushkar Apte <apte@glacier.email

Subject: Shatabdi

Date: 08 Mar 1990 05:57:00 -0500


Since I have recently joined this group, I have probably missed
the start of this discussion. But I gather that there was a
suggestion that a "Shatabdi" be started between Bombay and Ahemdabad.
Some comments on this concept. Somehow the idea of a fast day train
has not caught the fancy of travellers on this route. Long long ago
there used to be a Bombay Ahmedabad Deluxe Express which was
discontinued for lack of patronage. Then more recently, when the
B'bay Delhi Rajdhani was made 4 days a week (from 2/week) an
additional rake was added and since this rake rested in Bombay over
the weekend, a weekly train was started called the WEEKEND EXPRESS
between Bombay and Ahemdabad that stopped at Surat and Baroda.
It made the B'bay - A'bad run in
approx 7 hrs - quite fast. But that too was discontinued for lack of
patronage. So it looks like the A'badis prefer a night's sleep on the
Guj Mail, the Baroda dwellers their favorite Baroda Express and the
Surat dwellers their legendary Flying Ranee.

However, things might be changing - since a new train called Sayaji
Nagari Express ( a day train) has been started last Dec. between
Bombay and Baroda and apparently runs full. So the idea of a b'bay
a'bad shatabdi is worth a try at least - especially if it can make the
run in 5.5 hrs or even lesser time. Also, besides Surat and A'bad, a
big incentive for such a train would also be Baroda. Baroda is fast
developing into a leading industrial city of Gujarat and indeed of the
country. Besides its traditional base in petrochemicals, it is
expanding out into electronics and computers - and although nowhere
close to the top hi-tech cities of Pune and Bangalore, it is
nevertheless the most hi-tech place in Gujarat. Having a
supersuperfast train in this area, would, in my opinion, be
appropriate.

Pushkar

From: Vijay Balasubramanian <vbs@plumpy.email

Subject: IR Magazine

Date: 08 Mar 1990 10:50:00 -0500


Hi,

Thanks for your responses to the proposed Shatabdi. All we need to do is
to approach the Railway Ministry and "demand" that such a train be introduced
(just kidding). I won't be surprised if Mr. Fernandes cancels all the existing
Shatabdis.


As I mentioned before, INDIAN RAILWAYS is a monthly magazine with a nominal
$8.5 foreign subscription fee. One needs to correspond to
The Director, Public Relations, Rail Bhavan, New Delhi 110001

What I don't know is to whom to make the check payable to. Suggestions are
needed. I have a few up my sleeve: Ministry of Railways, Railway Board, Indian
Railways.


Moving on to the Bombay-Baroda section, the Sayaji Nagri Exp. uses the same
rakes as the nightly Vadodara Exp. So, the Bombay bound Vadodara Exp., e.g,
would reach Bombay around 6.00 a.m. and return to Baroda the same
day as the S.N. Exp. A friend of mine used to
commute between Bombay and Baroda/Ah'dbd, and she always preferred the
Vadodara Exp. even to go to Ah'dbd. She says that the state of the existing
Gujarat bound trains is pitiable. Moreover, some of them reach Ahmd'bd
at odd hours e.g. the Ah'dbd Janata Exp. reaches Ah'dbd around 4.00 a.m.
The Gujarat Mail does a little better (5.30 a.m.?)
The introduction of the S.N. exp. has
doubled the work load on the Vadodara Exp. rakes with the result that
maintenance is becoming somewhat of a problem. Incidently, the Vadodara Exp.
invariably reaches the vicinty of Baroda 30-45 mts. ahead of schedule which
results in a regular un-official halt at the outskirts.

I remember the introduction of the Week-End AC Exp. as being telecast on the
evening news in Bombay. And I also remember its subsequent cancellation
when the Rajdhani's frequency was increased from four to five days a week.
By that time, the R. exp. had already acquired 18 coaches. Now it runs six
days a week.

The Paschim Exp. now goes to Amritsar daily (instead of the earlier
tri-weekly frequency). Over the years, it's no. of halts has been steadily
increasing: Bharuch, Jallandhar Cant, Sonepat, Shamgarh, Meghnagar, Bhawani
Mandi, Borivali (Dn. dirn), and now Navsari. As a result, the 81/82 and 103/104
Deluxe exps. are now restricted to run between Delhi and Howrah.

The 152 Up Bombay bound Rajdhani Exp. now leaves N.Delhi around 4.00 p.m.
instead of the earlier 5.00 p.m. (reaches Bombay around 8.30 a.m.)
What could be the reason? Isn't this more inconvenient to office-goers who
wish to catch the Bombay-bound train and would not prefer to sacrifice
precious office time?

Before I end this mail, I wish to direct your attention to exisiting
services between Bombay and Delhi. All the trains with the exception of the
Rajdhani Exp. do not terminate at Delhi. As a result, only a fraction of the
seats/berths provided by the non-terminating trains will be available at Delhi.
Is this enough to handle existing traffic? Shouldn't there be more trains
just between Bombay and Delhi? (we have the Paschim Exp., the Frontier Mail,
the Firozpur Janata Exp., the Dehra Dun Exp., the Punjab Mail, the
Dadar-Amritsar Exp., all daily trains, and the four-days-a-week Jammu Tawi
superfast exp., besides the six-days-a-week Rajdhani exp.)

As an example, look at services between Howrah and Delhi. We have the daily
Hwh.-Delhi Exp., the daily Hwh.-Delhi Janata Exp., the five-days-a-week Rajdhani
Exp., and the daily Deluxe Exp. (tri-weekly via Varanasi and four-days-a-week
via Patna). Even the daily Kalka Mail has seven of its coaches operating
between Delhi and Hwh. Only the Udyan Abha Toofan Exp. goes thru'.


...and with that, I end my ramblings for the moment.

Regards,
Vijay

From: Pushkar Apte <apte@glacier.email

Subject: Re: IR Magazine

Date: 08 Mar 1990 08:57:00 -0500


Short Comment on the Sayaji Nagari Express - It does use the rake of
Vadodara Express - but in reverse. That is, the incoming Vadodara Exp
arrives Vadodara 6.10 a.m. leaves for B'bay @ 7.30 a.m. as S.N. Exp,
returns back @ 21.40 and leaves again as Vadodara Exp @ 23.00. So the
rake rests a whole day @ Bombay. As a result, the train is in poor shape
while coming to Bombay - since there is no time for maintenance, while
it is somewhat better on the reverse trip.

As for more trains between Bombay and Delhi, the reason usually touted
by IR was that there was a single line bet. Ratlam & Kota which is why
they could not run additional trains. That has long since become a double
line - I wonder what excuse they have now?

Pushkar

From: Mukunda Kantamneni <kmukunda@umaxc.email

Subject: WDM2s

Date: 08 Mar 1990 14:53:00 -0500


Hi fellow IRFCA members:

I just happened to see Sampath Srinivas's (srinivas@elements.email
article on the net, who thinks WDM2s are diesel/hydraulic locos. I
know for sure these are diesel/electric locos. But, I am wondering
if we have any diesel/hydraulic locos in IRs inventory!

Also, someone on the net pointed out the ALCO engines on WDM2s are
2 stroke engines! I have had chance to get into cabins of these
locos several times, but never bothered to check this out since
such a heavy duty engines cann't be 2 stroke engines due to their
low thermal efficiency, *unless* power to wait ratio is *very* important
such as aircraft applications.

Can anyone enlighten me on this?

Thanks in advance.

mukunda

From: J Mukerji <jis@mtgzx.email

Subject: Re: WDM2s

Date: 08 Mar 1990 17:10:00 -0500


Excerpts from mail: 8-Mar-90 WDM2s Mukunda Kantamneni@umaxc (724)


> Hi fellow IRFCA members:

> I just happened to see Sampath Srinivas's (srinivas@elements.email
> article on the net, who thinks WDM2s are diesel/hydraulic locos. I
> know for sure these are diesel/electric locos. But, I am wondering
> if we have any diesel/hydraulic locos in IRs inventory!
> Can anyone enlighten me on this?

You are correct WDM2's are not Diesel Hydraulic, they are Diesel
Electric. There was (is?) a class of shunters, the class designation of
which eludes me at this moment, (probably a WDS4 or something like
that?) that has what is know as Suri Transmission. Suri Transmission was
invented by M. M. Suri. It is a dual transmission system. At low speeds
it is hydarulic and at high speed it is mechanical or something like
that.

> Also, someone on the net pointed out the ALCO engines on WDM2s are
> 2 stroke engines! I have had chance to get into cabins of these
> locos several times, but never bothered to check this out since
> such a heavy duty engines cann't be 2 stroke engines due to their
> low thermal efficiency, *unless* power to wait ratio is *very* important
> such as aircraft applications.

The Diesel prime mover in WDM2 is a four stroke V16 (if I remember
correctly) engine. However, I am not certain about the number of
cylinders. I will have more on it tomorrow.

Speaking of WDM's has anyone seen a WDM1 of late?

Jishnu Mukerji,
jis@mtgzx.email
+1 201 957 5986,
AT&T Bell Laboratories,
MT 3K-423, 200 Laurel Ave.,
Middletown NJ 07748

From: Dheeraj Sanghi <dheeraj@cs.email

Subject: Re: Shatabdi

Date: 10 Mar 1990 00:25:00 -0500


Manish writes:
>I am still looking for a really good reason as to why this
>Shatabdi, has been extended from Gwalior to Jhansi, and later
>to Bhopal.

Well, there is no good reason why it was even upto Gwalior
in the first place. Most traffic on Shatabdi is what used to
travel on Taj, i.e. tourists going to Agra. It was started
between Gwalior and Delhi because MadhavRao Scindia (then
Rly Minister) is from Gwalior. Extension to Bhopal is simply
ridiculous. The train reaches Bhopal at 2:00 pm and starts
its return journey at 2:40 pm. There is hardly any time for
any checkups or cleaning the coaches. If the morning train is
late, then the evening train will definitely be late too.

the Railway Minister took extreme care of his constituency.
Every single train passing through Gwalior stops there now.
Taj Express has been extended to Gwalior. There are other
long diatance train services started from that city. I wonder
if there is enough traffic from that city to justify all that.


-dheeraj

From: Dheeraj Sanghi <dheeraj@cs.email

Subject: New member and his travelogue.

Date: 10 Mar 1990 22:00:00 -0500


Hi,
Please join me in welcoming Amit Mukerjee to our mailing
list. Those of you who read SCI must have seen his travelogue from
Delhi to Pune. Those who haven't seen it, I am posting it here with
his permission.

-dheeraj
-----------------------
From: amit@sparc6.email (Amit Mukerjee)
Newsgroups: soc.culture.indian
Organization: Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas

I am posting this for the TRAIN LOVERS and TRAIN NOSTALGICS out there.

This is a diary of a series of train journeys in India this December.
The following VERY LONG segment covers the Delhi to Bombay and
Bombay-Pune segments. If anybody's interested I could e-mail/post the
remaining segments (Pune-Dli-Kanpur-Dli-Puri-Howrah-Dli), which
include trains such as the Shatabdi, Rajdhani, Neelachal, Jheelum...



Train to Bombay (December 9,1989)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The sun is setting - a slice of pale orange visible through the streaked
clouds and white city smog. Pashchim Express pulls out of New Delhi
station, past the indifferent gaze of the kid in tattered shorts, past the
mosque that has settled itself bang in between the railway lines, past the
railway staff quarters with the wash drying in view of tens of thousands of
passengers a day, and settles down to the rhythm that will take us to
Bombay in just under a day. We pass a small station - Connaught Place can
be seen from the bridge over a busy road. For forty years of independence,
this station has maintained its imperial heritage as Minto Bridge, named
after Lord Minto, one of the early British Governors of India. Today I
find that the name has changed to Shivaji Bridge; fifty years later the
passerby will be hard-pressed to recall the "Minto Bridge" that I knew from
the days of my youth.

White smoke rising from the low-grade coal fires hangs opaque in the still
air and the shrouded sun gives a wash-painting look to the domed building
that I can see now. Baroda House, and then the India Gate some way off.
Gradually the train picks up speed; I close the door and retire to my seat
in the cabin.

The coach is air-conditioned, which means one may not open the windows, and
is therefore denied the principal pleasures of Indian train travel - the
wind in ones face, the sounds of the countryside and, of course, the dust
and grime. There is something romantic about the sound of the wind - a
kind of perpetual energy like the pounding waves of the sea - something one
can stare at, riveted, for hours on end. Except that in the train,
physical discomfort eventually builds up and closes the window.

I was never fond of the chair car concept for long distance trains. It is,
too reminiscent of the airplane - an austere efficiency in splendid
isolation from the real world. And then there is the physical discomfort
of sleep - cramped into an ill-designed quasi-vertical recliner, listening
to the creaks and moans of tortured limbs all around. Especially in
winter, it makes more sense to travel non air-conditioned, with a decent
berth to retire to at night. In India however, the chair car holds an
unique advantage - there is no question of having to share your reserved
space with unauthorized passengers.

The Pashchim Express is a train of some aristocracy. Not quite the vintage
of the Frontier Mail perhaps, but still a crusty old flag-bearer of the
Western Railways, at least from the independence era. Starting at Amritsar
on the Pakistan border, it passes through Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, some
Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, and then onto Maharashtra, crossing the Ghats
sometime tomorrow afternoon to reach Bombay within twenty-two hours. Sumit
will be at the station, he said in the three minute phone conversation last
night; it was a Sunday and Bombay was a three hour journey from Pune so why
not? Sumit I saw last in the US, when we three brothers went on a land
trip from Texas to the Smoky Mountains, Washington D.C., New York, Niagara
Falls and back. Sumit was born in Baghdad, and he was about a year old
when Saddam Hossein staged the coup that brought him to power. One day
during those troubled times, someone snatched my overly realistic toy gun
from the front gate, and Ma and I were hysterically inquiring after the
prized possession. In the midst of this bedlam, Sumit crawled out of the
front gate and onto the footwalk of the street down which tanks had rumbled
the previous evening. Catastrophe was narrowly averted when Papa, on his
way back from work, picked up the truant child in disbelief. Destined to
adventure from such a tender age, Sumit is now a Captain in the Indian
Army, training for his Signals Course at the College of Military
Engineering in Pune.

The train passes through Okhla, not too far from our house in Kalkaji.
Only a few hours back all of us had crossed the tracks here on our way to
Uncle Sur's house. There is a white Maruti waiting with the traffic at the
railway crossing - it is quite probable that Ma is in this very Maruti,
returning home with Aloka in her car. But the train is moving too fast
now, and the evening is setting in so further investigation is ruled out.
We speed past Faridabad, where I once worked, at the Eicher Tractors plant
and then in the R&D division, commuting daily from home in a one-hour bus
ride. But it is quite dark now, and I cannot locate even the Kelvinator
factory, which used to be right next to the railway line.

As a child I may have travelled on the Delhi-Bombay line, en route to the
ships for Baghdad and Marseilles, but I have no special memories. The
stations on this line are all new to me. About four in the morning the
train pulls into the large junction of Ratlam - this appears to be the
Mughal Sarai on this route. Even at this hour, a number of intrepid
vendors are hawking the "Mashoor sev of Ratlam", and the sheer audacity of
their enterprise sells me a packet. It is likely to be "mashoor", for
quite a few people are buying it, and the taste is very unlike the bland
flavour of traditional sev. This is very spicy, and must be had in small
doses; I pack the rest in the interests of stable digestion. Ratlam, I
believe, is in MP, but very soon we cross over into Gujarat, where our
route will pass through Dahod, and then Baroda.

There are few visual experiences to rival that of dawn from a moving train.
It is all dark in the beginning with a hint of orange at one corner of the
horizon. For a fleeting moment you see the rails glisten crimson in the
new light, the trusses and wires of the electrical system silhouetted
against the orange, and then almost before it started, the magic moment is
past, the sky is light and there is a chimney somewhere in the distance
belching black smoke that can now be seen against the pale sky. We have
crossed Dahod, and are now in Gujarat. People are up and about in the
countryside, walking across the fields and squatting besides the tracks for
their morning toilet, ubiquitous lota in hand. In the coaches also, people
are stirring and lines form outside the bathrooms where it proclaims in the
officious tones of Indian bureaucracy - "Gentlemen will lift seat".

Some of the Luchi-Aloodum is left over from the dinner that Ma whipped up
for me in the meager break between two trips to Uncle Sur's new house.
Luchi, Aloodum, and Fish chop, all from scratch. The flour kneaded for the
Luchi, the potatoes boiled, the fish preparation for the chop filling, the
dum-aloos peeled, onions cut and everything cooked and fried - all in one
and a half hour*. I had of course protested this culinary munificience,
but I had landed from the US only yesterday, and it would clearly be a
travesty to send me on this journey without the due quorum of home food.

(FOOTNOTE:
* When Papa and Ma were visiting us last year, Rita commented frequently
about how one moment Ma would be in the living room with her needlework,
all the vegetables untouched in the fridge, and then before you could turn
around Ma would wave a magic wand the full day's cooking would be done and
the kitchen cleaned and returned to normalcy.
)

The sun has broken through the morning haze, and is streaming through the
tinted glass, lighting up this page even as I write, my clipboard propped
against the cramped leg. The encroachment of civilization is apparent in
the countryside here. Modern two-storied houses, painted in muted modern
colours and the mandatory TV antennae piercing the sky proclaim the
relative affluence of this neighborhood near which the train has now come
to a halt. In the foreground, a swamp with a large hog rooting about in
the filth. The surface of the water is patched with lotus-like leaves,
just like those on the ponds in Kalyangarh. The train starts to move again
- approaching a respectable-sized city - and pulls into the station at
Godhra.

It is almost noon when we reach Baroda. Officially the name has been
changed to Vadodara, just as Poona is now Pune and Madras (state) is Tamil
Nadu. The food at the station is excellent, and even from a cart, it is
measured carefully by weight - 200 gms of bhaji with curry sauce for Rs.5.
Authenticity is guaranteed, since the vendor speaks mostly Gujarati to his
clients. Also, there is a stall at the station with the name "Baroda Dairy
Milk Bar", which is being mobbed by hundreds of people, jostling for their
turn. The men at the counter are too busy even to tell me the price, but I
am sure it must be very good. It takes me five minutes to get through the
melee and obtain a bottle, a yellow milk drink of pleasant taste and
generic fruit flavour.

Gujarat impresses me quite a bit. I am somewhat predisposed perhaps. I
know the rural areas are well-off, a good fraction of the families having
relatives abroad, and the dairy cooperatives having done much to raise the
general standard of living. But all this was second-hand knowledge. Now I
can verify it myself, even in this brief glimpse of the clean and spacious
station. The exit gates are wide open, unlike the usual narrow slits
designed to make it hard for the ticketless passenger to sneak by. The
collectors wear white starched uniforms, complete with a smart uncrumpled
tie. What a contrast to the almost closed gates and the dumpy off-color
uniforms of Sealdah. There was a sense of pride in the bearing of the
officials in Gujarat; you could see it even in the erect postures of the
stationmasters who came out at each station and held out the green flag
until the entire length of the train had passed. About twenty years ago I
had come to Calcutta with Dadu to see the Puja's, and I remember a
policeman at one of the major intersections controlling traffic with
elegant disciplined movements, pirouetting smartly from one rigid posture
to another as the traffic passed obediently beneath him. One could feel
the sense of pride and fulfillment behind his tremendous energy, and I
found the same sense today, looking at the railway officials in Gujarat.

There was more. Most of the Indian countryside is marked by a sense of
dissolution and neglect - the paint has faded, the walls covered with
slogans. In Gujarat as seen from the railway, the gates at traffic
crossings were a sparkling black on white, and stood out against the bland
countryside. We passed long stretches of irrigation canal which were
connected in a network, and the width would change and it would pass
through cross canals, and it all seemed to work - they actually carried
water, and looked well-maintained. At one point I saw two men bailing
water into their field - and there was a little dark boy, five years old
perhaps, contributing his tiny mite from a shallower corner of the ditch.

Also noticeable at this time of the year were a number of cranes. They
were mostly in pairs, and their brilliant white profiles are a pleasure to
watch against the sunbleached brown of the land.

Eventually, we crossed the Ghats - low brown hills with sparse brush - and
crossed the Tapti into Surat. We had crossed the wider Narmada earlier.
Surat is the quintessential industrial town, chimneys everywhere and rows
of factories lining our exit from the city. Now on, we are very close to
the Arabian sea all the way to Bombay. At one point we cross a wide inlet
from the sea, with several spans of a long neglected bridge rusting on its
trusses.

Multi-storied apartment houses are starting to proliferate now, as the long
arm of Bombay gradually transforms the countryside. We pass several vast
slums - and I think of the "City of Joy" - a book a Frenchman had to write
so that middleclass Indians like myself could get a glimpse of life in a
slum. I have a strong urge to visit one, but this one is past now, Bombay
is almost upon us, and with it, Sumit.



Bombay
~~~~~~

"The huge city which the West had built and abandoned with a gesture of
despair," says Forster in A Passage to India. But the west had never
abandoned Bombay, it just went native. The native west is very much in
evidence in today's Bombay; and it struck me in particular because my
conference site was Hotel Juhu Centaur, a five star establishment where the
janitors and bellboys spoke excellent English, and service areas were
covered with timeless slogans like "The guest is always right".

It is in hotels like this that the native west congregates, served by the
anglicized staff and isolated from the hoi polloi of Juhu beach by a tall
wall whose barbed wire topping is not quite covered by the green creepers.
The neon of the bhelpuri stands and the exhortations of the beachside
vendors drift into the expanse of green lawn and the blue-tiled depths of
the swimming pool inside, and undoubtedly this contributes to the unique
Indian atmosphere for the guests who represent the genuine west.
Unfortunately, however, the hotel does not quite work. My first room has
no working lights, a deficiency that I can identify immediately. The next
room has a more subtle problem that I discover only next morning - there is
no cold water. A plumber comes up and destroys the contrived vintage look
- but he speaks english.

The beach beyond the walls is much more interesting. There is a scatter of
snack shops, horses and camels ready to take you on a ride, an endless
stream of romantic couples, and the occasional swimmer, often foreign,
ready to brave the cold waters of December. Although this is still my
first week in India and I am not quite sure of my capacity to withstand
street food, I cannot resist some bhel-puri from a dubious looking shop,
and fortunately there are no significant ill-effects the next day. The
conference is conducted with elan, each of the speakers being presented
with a small handicraft as a gift, and there are several sumptuous lunches
and dinners, although the level of interaction is inhibited by the
exorbitant rates at the hotel which precludes most of the Indian attendees
from staying at the hotel. One evening we have a "variety show" - a
budding Odissi dancer performs tolerably well notwithstanding the
excruciatingly inept commentary by her mother.

>From Bombay to Pune. But first, from Juhu to the Victoria Terminus.
Railway station, colonial architecture and an institution by itself to
millions of Bombay-wallahs, V.T. has retained its colonial name but mostly
in abbreviation. On the way to the station, I come across a vivid
illustration of the relative values of man and machine in India. A truck
has stalled on a one way road, and its crew is pushing it not to the side
of the road or some nearby haven but all the way to its destination, and
the stretch where I see it they are going up a gentle slope, some eight or
nine emaciated looking men huffing rhythmically behind the one-tonner, dark
skins glistening under the mild winter sun....

Some kids playing just outside a slum neighborhood. A girl sits on a jute
sack and is pulled at breakneck speed by ber brothers, face creased in
laughter through streaks of grimy bleached hair. Overtaking another taxi
that has disappeared under its load of oversize sacks - both roof and trunk
are overflowing as the city plies its commerce by whatever means.

The taxi driver is in a talkative mood. Taxis are honest in Bombay and
they dont take you by circuitous routes for extra money. Unlike Delhi,
even unaccompanied girls at two AM are safe on the Bombay taxi. Man - has
Bombay grown in the last twenty years - you could see it right before your
eyes - the buildings rising and the slums spreading all around you. The
newfangled Marutis aren't any good for taxis, they are not built to last.
These officials in charge of the bi-annual taxi license renewal - they are
all thieves; they will be "unable to find" your papers unless you give them
a fat Rishwat - almost four times the actual fee. Who wants to travel all
the way and waste the whole day, so everyone pays...

And then it is V.T. Only a few minutes before the Deccan Queen leaves for
Pune. The man at the counter advises me against buying a ticket - this is
a special train and if you are unreserved, it is useless to buy a ticket;
you might as well go ahead and board the train and pay the fine. This
turns out to be good advice; I even manage to find an unoccupied seat once
the train starts moving, and spend my time talking to a marketing man
freshly returned from the Middle East - they have refused to take him again
on health grounds so he is thinking of settling in Pune. He tells me of
his days of glory as marketing manager at various companies, and gives me
several names of people to look up who are in the computer business at
Pune.

Halfway to Pune we enter the ghats. It is beautiful in the sunset, and I
return to my traditional post at the open door. We cross a series of
tunnels, some twenty-nine of them, as the beautiful valley passes on the
left side of the train. The sun silhouettes several of the peaks on the
opposite side, and then it is gone, leaving a sad dim orange in its wake.
Someday I must come trekking here - I remember Pratima Karpe of IIT Bombay
who had told us stories of hiking in hills like these...

At Lonavla the train returns to flatland, and in a short while we are at
Pune station, and there on the station, near the exit gates - Sumit once
again.

===================== forever = 327 lines ==========================

amit mukerjee amit@cs.email
amit (amit@cssun.email


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

From: uunet!shakti!betaal!cse!vasu <Vasudeva.Kamath%shakti@uunet.email

Subject:

Date: 12 Mar 1990 01:01:00 -0500


Dear Vijay,
Please pass this on to others in IRFCA who are interested.
We took an overnight bus to Udaipur (UDZ),arriving
at 4:30 am. in the bitter cold. We then took a rickshaw to
the railway station about 1.5 to 2 km. away,
and refreshed ourselves with chai and scones-just great.
Watched Gharib Nawaz leave at 5:30. We left at 5:45,
reaching Mavli Jn (35 Km away) at 7:00.There is a bit of
shunting done at Mavli. Observed Mewar pass to ADI,and
also Rewari-Udaipur Exp.Had lovely jalebis at Mavli.
We passed the highest point on WR near a station
called Charbhuja Road. We arrived at the top of the ghat section
at a station called Khamli Ghat. Our YP steam engine was
replaced by a YG at this place.
The entire idea of this trip was to study the reversal
at Phulad, 2 stations from Marwar, in the middle of nowhere.
You may be knowing about why reversals are needed on MG.
I'll write this in part II. What about part II of BB-BSL?
With love,
Vasu

..............................................................................

I met Vasu during my recent trip to India and, thus, discovered another
hopeless train nut. Being in good proximity to "where-the-action-is",
he could provide us with up-to-date info. about India Railways.


Speaking about trains from Gwalior, there is the tri-weekly Howrah-Gwalior
Chambal Exp.. The Varanasi-Jhansi Bundelkhand Exp. has been extended till
Gwalior, as also the Chhapra-Jhansi Mail. And then we have the weekly
Bombay-Gwalior superfast Lashkar Exp., which I believe is in danger of being
given the sack.


Regards,
Vijay

From: aravind <aravind@vax135.email

Subject: mail trains

Date: 12 Mar 1990 18:05:00 -0500


Most of the fast trains introduced nowadays have really fancy names -
like "Shatabdi", "Lakshar", ..... the list is endless ..

In Vijay's recent message I caught sight of plain old "Chappra-Jhansi Mail".

There is an aura about the workhorse-oldfaithfuls like Madras-Trivandrum
Mail, Madras-Hwh Mail and so on that the newer trains/names just don't have.
Are any of the newly introduced trains called "Mail"? Any prominent
ones in this list? It is possible that this designation persists
only in the subcontinent - it has probably faded away in Britain ....


Aravind

From: J Mukerji <jis@mtgzx.email

Subject: Re: mail trains

Date: 12 Mar 1990 18:46:00 -0500


Excerpts from mail: 12-Mar-90 mail trains aravind@vax135.email (573)

> It is possible that this designation persists only in the subcontinent -
> it has probably faded away in Britain ....

However, there is at least one Mail train in the USofA, the Fast Mail
between Boston and Washington DC is a daily Amtrak train which carries
only Amboxes and I think one single coach.

Jishnu Mukerji,
jis@mtgzx.email
+1 201 957 5986,
AT&T Bell Laboratories,
MT 3K-423, 200 Laurel Ave.,
Middletown NJ 07748

From: Vijay Balasubramanian <vbs@plumpy.email

Subject: More from Amit!

Date: 13 Mar 1990 15:37:00 -0500


Hi guys,

For those of you who missed Amit's sci posting about his journey on the
Jhelum Exp., here are some excerpts:

...........................................................................

Jhelum Express
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Back to the train. The endless rhythmic sound is an echo of my search
for that elusive sense of identity for which I am in India. This time
it is the Jhelum Express, carrying me back to Delhi - a journey of
twenty-eight hours. We are on the last leg now, approaching Agra
Cantonment station, some four hours from Delhi. On the way we crossed
dreaded Chambal valley, homeland of notorious dacoits - wasteland of dry
earth and gorsebush, carved into intricate transient patterns by air and
water. Quite reminiscent of North Dakota's Badlands, which Amit Bando
and I stared at on that beautiful morning after a night of great storms
that threatened to blow away the tent. Softer topsoil had been moulded
here, unlike the more lasting carvings in rock that one sees in Grand
Canyon. Occasionally one can identify the signatures of man - a trail
in the wilderness, a discarded tin can - one wonders, given the
legendary notoriety of the valley, what kind of people these may have
been?


Agra appears outside the window now, encrusted in thick fog. Twilight
is upon us and balls of light are shining through the haze. The sounds
of vendors accost us as we pull into the station. The Taj Mahal will
appear somewhere after this, but the man who has blocked the door with
his huge pile of luggage refuses to remove it and let me peer out into
the gloom. In any event, he says, we won't be able to see it, it is
dark and fogged up, and the Taj is too far. In my mind though I can see
the cover photo on Paul Theroux's The Imperial Way - several
red-turbaned railwaymen pushing an umbrella trolley directly in front of
the Taj - and I am convinced he is lying to avoid moving his luggage. I
get down on the platform and move to a convenient door a few coaches
off. Unfortunately, the gangway to this coach is closed so I am cut off
from our compartment, but Mathura will arrive within the hour so I
decide to stay here. The train pulls out, slowly at first and then
gathering speed rapidly.

After spending a little time in India, one is no longer impatient with
the small inefficiencies of life here, the things that don't work, the
traffic that doesn't move, the trains that run late. Indeed one feels a
sense of wonder that the railways manage to operate with undiminished
vigour. Yes, the corridors are full, reservations are honoured more in
the breach than otherwise, and a few unscrupulous officials make money
on the side, but on the whole the system works. The trains get to their
destinations, more often on time than not, delivering people and cargo
across the dry dusty heartland of rural India. At each station, at each
traffic control post, vigilant signalmen ensure that the lines are
clear, and display their preparedness by coming out on the platforms or
hanging out of the windows with their green flags, a reassuring sight in
this land of prevailing disorder.

We cross Raja ki Mundi. "Alight here for the Taj", it says with
illuminated signs on the platform. No Taj in sight. I check around
with the passengers - the Taj is some five miles away it appears, and is
not visible from the line. Paul Theroux's picture must have been shot
from a side line. Fortunately the train is halted by a red signal - a
small station called Billochpur. I get off and return to my coach, only
to face the derision of the man blocking the door with his luggage pile.
Kya Saab? Did you see the Taj?

Our compartment has six seats on one side of the corridor and two on the
other side. At peak hours during the day there were as many as fifteen
people and three children cramped into this space. One family has the
two lower berths - three adults with two children. Mother and son slept
on the floor last night.

Another mother is travelling in the middle berth with her daughter - she
is an architect originally from Pune. After graduating from Delhi
School of Architecture and Town Planning, she is now settled in Delhi.
She met her husband in school and they stay in Kalkaji and work in Nehru
Place. She drops off the daughter at a creche on her way to work, and
flexible hours as a consultant help her look after the child. The
daughter seems a loving and well-adjusted child.

The family in the lower berth seems to be from a lesser income group.
Clean clothes and appearances are not very important, english is not
understood, and there is a general air of diffidence born of existence
near the bottom of the social ladder. There is also the faltering
uncertainty that comes when one finds oneself in an unfamiliar position,
slightly above one's normal existence. Both their children are
untroubled by such social considerations, however, and they study
everything with their big bright eyes, and the mother dresses them up
and combs their hair carefully, although the son seems to be getting
most of her attention. Transcending insignificant social class
boundaries, the mothers talk animatedly in Marathi, and from gestures
and the few intelligible words I can make out that they are discussing
their children, the universal bond of motherhood.

The train is running at speed now, trying to make up for the half hour
or so that it has been late by for most of the day. Sumit was quite
impressed by the timely departure from Pune yesterday. After a lazy
afternoon of showering and packing we set off from CME at five PM for
the five-forty train, and reached the station with minutes to spare. We
took a few photos of each other and the trained pulled out slowly,
leaving both of us a little sad. Apparently he had been counting on me
to get the families talking and arrange a date for his wedding, and even
his friends eagerly quizzed me about progress so far. This is a role
that I do not relish, but I realize that perhaps I am at the right place
at the right time, and am the best person to break the grim stalemate.


These days, railway stations in major cities have a computer system for
handling reservations. However, the connection is not nationwide; each
station has its separate network with the old system of quotas on trains
for various in-between stations. The architect lady - Mrs. Dante - has
an interesting story to tell about the computer. She and her husband
had booked two tickets for Nagpur - Mr. Dante and Mrs -Do-, said the
reservation entry. Subsequently her husband changed his mind, and the
data entry clerk was stymied by the remaining reservation in the name of
Mrs. -Do-. In typical bureaucratese, he declared the booking
"Uncancellable". After an hour of vigorous debate, during which the
authorities never admitted that the fault lay with them, the ticket had
to be cancelled and a fresh one made in the name of Mrs. Dante; there
was a small cancellation charge. Such is the stuff of which computer
fables are made.

A vendor in uniform stops by with an unappetizing looking box labelled
"Central Railway Janata Khana Price Re. 1". The packet is familiar, it
was introduced ten years ago during the brief rule of the Janata
government, and the price reflects the ambitious plans of the initiators
- today I am charged four Rupees for the same item. It contains seven
Puris and a dry sabji, which turns out to be quite tasty.

When we called Delhi from Pune the other day I explicitly asked Papa not
to meet me at the station. I expect to get off at Hazrat Nizamuddin, or
if perchance the train is stopped by a signal - then at Okhla. It is a
testimony to the regularity of the irregular in India that one even
contemplates such things. Indeed there are a number of dependable
unscheduled stops on the local lines approaching Sealdah, and the smart
daily passenger always anticipates these and jumps off if convenient.
This kind of disorder is quite unsettling to the western psyche, raised
from childhood to depend on systems that work. On the train to Bombay,
I remember an American girl trying to peer out of the window on the
door. I was passing by and opened the door for her, but this was too
much of a shock, like opening the door on an aeroplane. She shrunk back
and asked me if it wasn't illegal, and then told her boyfriend with
wonder - "you can even open the doors!" Such are the freedoms one has
in a less orderly system, but it costs one dearly.


The train is going at a tremendous clip now, although it seems unlikely
that it will be able to make up for the lost time. There is an air of
resigned expectation in the compartment, the kind that precedes the end
of an extended chore. This is the point at which human resilience is at
its nadir - the defences are down, the end is in sight, and any further
delay beyond this point will be unbearable.

The architect's daughter is fast asleep but the other two children are
very active near the window, munching popcorn and bursting the balloons
that they carefully preserved for the entire trip.


The train has not stopped at Okhla, and Nizamuddin is coming up. I
think we just went over Ring Road - somewhere near Ashram. Another
passenger has joined our compartment from Gwalior - a doctor in the
army. He has just returned from Sri Lanka as part of the withdrawal of
IPKF forces. Their battalion was the first to go and has seen heavy
casualties, but it was an important battle-hardening and has made the
army a lot tougher. He wants me to give a message to the wife of his
commanding officer, and thrusts into my hand a paper with a phone
number. Later, when I called up the lady a curt male voice answered the
phone with a proprietary manner and I of course wondered who that person
may have been, in view of the husband's long absence, etc.


============================== adios ==============================

Thanks for bearing with this stuff. Next segment is to Puri, where I
meet an interesting Panda on the train.

amit
amit (amit@cssun.email

...............................................................................


Have fun,

Vijay

From: Swaminathan Srinivasan PHY <swami@ariel.email

Subject: Trains (and 'bout m'self)

Date: 14 Mar 1990 18:49:00 -0500


Hi everyone!

As seems to be the tradition, as a new member, I should introduce
myself......

Swaminathan Srinivasan (T.S.Swaminathan in India)

alias Swami, Iqbal Masud, IQ, T.S.S., Transverse Section Swaminathan, Ramanan,
Gordon (after I took a surprising catch in "para" cricket in Calcutta), etc...

Currently doing my M.S. in Phys. Plan to do a dual Masters in Phys and EE

Lived in ( >6months): Madras, Bangalore, Mysore, Jamshedpur,
Hazaribagh, Calcutta, Narmada (in IIT(M) !), Albuquerque.

So, as can be guessed, have been in several schools, the notable being:

Loyola in Jampot; Xavier's in Hazaribagh;
South Point H.S. in Calcutta, IIT (M) {b.tech in EE}
presently in UNM ( phys., EE)

Travelled on Brindavan, Bokaro Steel City, Coromandel, West Coast, Dadar,
Chennai, Cochin, Vaigai.... and one memorable trip on a passenger
train from Mysore to Nanjangud - with my sweetheart back home!

Like to: i) measure train speed using watch and kilometre-stones ;
ii) make friends with the unlikeliest of characters;
iii) Wave at farmers and kids along the track; there's a great feeling
when someone waves back - of having communicated with a person
with absolutely no selfish interest; of having cheered up someone's
existence if only for the briefest of moments.
iv) get down at every platform and board only after the train starts
moving; haven't missed any so far doing this!
v) give excuses for having missed three trains in a row for different
reasons. This was in June 88 to Feb 89. - very expensive hobby.

Interests: Sketching, creating designs, writing letters, listening to virtually
all music except heavy metal. Indian classical (instrumental) and
western Classical are No.1s followed by Indian light music and
Country western.

contd.. .. discussing philosophy ( calcutta "adda" shtyle ) and making
friends.

Sometimes I also get jobless enough to "chumma" put funda on the newsnet!

See you guys and gals for now!
-- swami

From: Manish Malhotra <malhotra@cs.email

Subject:

Date: 15 Mar 1990 11:03:00 -0500


Hi Guys !

Here's some of the routes which I find enjoyable, mainly for scenic beauty.

Bangalore-Mangalore line : I travelled on this route so long ago, that I
have even forgotten if this is a meter gauge or broad gauge line. I think
it's meter gauge. I recall cool breeze ( so strong that a paper couldn't
be held straight and read ) blowing past the windows. There were lovely
water-falls (maybe only one or two) and some good-looking (!!!) animals.
Very pleasent journey, this was !

Bhopal-Jabalpur line : Actually the beautiful part of this journey is only
close to Jabalpur. Before Jabalpur, the train climbs up the slope, goes very
slow, and on both the sides of the track, there is steep slope, dense
forest, one can see trees growing from so far below and their tops rising
to just about your eye-level. I used to go travel by Indore-Bilaspur exp.,
which used to reach this area just before the sunrise. And this beautiful
sight treats your just_opened_up_eyes !

Also if one wishes to see the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, the Indore-Bhopal
line (of course close to Bhopal ) goes past the entire plant on one side.

Now I want to hear from others and from archives (attn. Dheeraj ) about the
new/previous discussion.

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