by: S. SHANKAR

     

  Flying Mail   

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16 Apr. 1853 - 16 Apr. 2002

Flying Mail

DELHI  - AMRITSAR

FLYING MAIL

AMRITSAR - DELHI

previously

DELHI-KARACHI (via Lahore)

FLYING MAIL

KARACHI -DELHI (via Lahore)

Special thanks to Skandan for providing most of the information on this page.

Please note that the color of the panels and links box on this page represents the livery worn by the Flying Mail. This livery is not necessarily the current one, but it certainly was a livery worn by this train at least once during its lifetime.

 

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1. The Flying Mail steams out of Amritsar station behind a WP. Steam gave way to diesel, then to part diesel and part electric traction. The Flying Mail was withdrawn in 2001, and is no more operational. (Picture courtesy John Lacey.This picture is a clone due to non availability of an actual picture of the train behind a WP)
The Flying Mail is one of the lesser known classic trains. For years before its withdrawal in 2001, the Flying Mail spent its days as a nondescript, though heavily patronized day express train between Old Delhi (Delhi Main) and Amritsar. It used to leave Delhi around noon, and reach Amritsar by around 2100 hrs., in time for dinner. Almost similar timings were followed on the return journey. When I traveled by this train in 1977, the rake used to double as an Amritsar-Ludhiana-Amritsar Passenger, running to and from Ludhiana in the morning. The departure of the Flying Mail from Amritsar was hence a very closely cut affair due to the sometimes "arrival just before the scheduled Flying Mail departure" syndrome of the Ludhiana Passenger. Its glorious past notwithstanding, the Flying Mail was for all practical purposes just another crowded commuter train running between Delhi and Amritsar.

There was a time before partition when the Flying Mail was considered to be the fastest train from Delhi to Karachi, despite its taking a slightly circuitous route via Lahore.The Delhi-Karachi Flying Mail used to depart from Delhi at noontime, and reach Karachi by about 1800 hrs. the next day. The rake was usually very well maintained, and was spick and span all the time. 

After partition of India in 1947, the service was curtailed, and the Flying Mail ran only until Amritsar from Delhi, something it did year after year till its withdrawal from service in 2001.

For a few years before its withdrawal, the Flying Mail rake (consist) was merged with the Delhi - Darbhanga - Delhi Sarayu Yamuna Express (which also runs as the Shaheed Express on certain days of the week). 

This apparently meant that the Darbhanga-Delhi Sarayu Yamuna Express (or Shaheed Express on certain days), which used to arrive Delhi at 1040 hrs, would then double up as the Flying Mail between Delhi and Amritsar, departing Delhi for Amritsar around noon. On the return leg, the returning Amritsar-Delhi Flying Mail used to double up as the Delhi-Darbhanga Sarayu Yamuna/Shaheed Express, i.e. depart as the Sarayu Yamuna/Shaheed after its arrival into Delhi from Amritsar. In other words, one rake (consist) was used for all the three trains: Flying Mail,Shaheed and Sarayu Yamuna Expresses. 

Later (2001), the Darbhanga-Delhi Sarayu Yamuna/Shaheed Express trains began to run all the way to Amritsar direct, due to which the Flying Mail lost its relevance, thus leading to its withdrawal. 

2. The Flying Mail about to leave Delhi station in the 1980s behind a WDM/2 locomotive. (Picture courtesy Richard Morrisson.This picture is a clone due to non availability of an actual picture of the train behind a WDM/2)

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I have received a fascinating account about the Flying Mail fron Skandan's octagenarian uncle, who was stationed at Karachi around 1944. Most of the information that follows is on the basis of this report.

The Delhi-Karachi (via Lahore) Flying Mail used to leave Delhi soon after the Grand Trunk Express, at around noon time. The train used to reach Lahore around 2100 hrs., in time for dinner. The return Karachi-Delhi Flying Mail arrived at Lahore around noontime, reaching Delhi at around 2100 hrs., again in time for dinner. Lahore was incidentally one of the larger stations on the Indian subcontinent at that time, and was usually spotlessly clean. Piping hot puri bhaji (fried tortilla pancakes with potato curry) and a tall glass of lassi (cold whipped yoghurt) was available at around 2 annas, and was decidedly yummy, as per the grand octagenarian.

In those days, there was apparently a frightfully slow train from Bombay to Iran, probably to Zahedan (as it was the last station on the Quetta route). This train, probably forerunner to the super slow dawdler, the Dadar-Amritsar Express used to pass through Lahore. Lahore however used to see two prestigious departures as well: the Punjab Mail to Calcutta (this was the EIR's Punjab Mail, not to be confused with the Bombay-Peshawar Punjab Mail featured on these pages), and the fully first class Simla Mail to Kalka. These trains used to depart after the Flying Mail arrived at  Lahore. 

Skandan's grand octagenarian uncle was apparently native of Palghat (then Olavvakot) in Kerala. He used to travel from Palghat to Madras by the Malabar Mail (now Mangalore Mail), take the Grand Trunk Express from there to Delhi, and then take the Flying Mail to Karachi from Delhi. The third class fare for the entire journey was probably a princely 35 Indian rupees then!

It is a pity that a prestigious train was actually downgraded to such a degree. The Flying Mail ran with shared rakes for a major part of its time. Chair cars were relatively rare on this train, which is essentially a day service. Sleeper or general second class cars used to act as second class sitting accommodation on this train.

I'm afraid thats all the information available about the Flying Mail at present. Any further inputs would be most welcome.

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3. The Flying Mail months before it was discontinued, seen here at Karnal behind a WAM/4 locomotive. (Picture by Herambh Patankar.This picture is a clone due to non availability of an actual picture of the train behind a WAM/4)

 

THEY SAID IT!!

Here is some interesting information from Hal Hughes about the crews that used to work the Flying Mail and Frontier Mail trains. Information courtesy Terry Case.

I checked on the material Hal had sent me about his father, but he did not seem to have covered the Flying Mail, so I sent him an email asking for details.
 One thing that I sort of always knew but had not thought much about was that Delhi did not have a large b.g. shed or allocation of drivers etc. For instance Saharanpur crews worked the frontier Mail and Flying Mail etc to and from Delhi...trains that did not even pass through Saharanpur. whilst on the CR (or GIPR in the days) crews from Jhansi and Agra worked in on the Taj express etc whilst from the WR the Frontier Mail came in from the
Ratlam direction etc.
  This tendency for crews to work from a central location and cover a wide area was increased as diesels were allocated to a major depot, not like steam at many sheds a relatively short distances apart; but does India using signing on/off points as many other places?
 Terry.  (on behalf of Hal Hughes)

 

Some readers have expressed certain reservations about the information contained on this page. Till such time any serious contradiction, or an authentic corraboration is recieved, this version of the page will hold good.

Please inform any corrections/changes/additional information to frontier_mail@yahoo.com

     

  Flying Mail   

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