IRFCA Mailing List Archive

Messages 221 - 240

From: Vijay Balasubramanian <

Subject: ICE

Date: 25 Jun 1990 16:17:00 -0500

Hi Folks,

Was watching "Beyond 2000" on the discovery channel a few days back. A segment on the Inter City Experimental (ICE) was, needless to say, the most interesting. Germany is all set to conquer the exisiting speed record held by the TGV (~ 185 miles/hr.)
with the ICE. This train has a potential speed of ~350 km/hr. but is currently
being run on 25 km. of special track with an experimental speed of ~ 220 km/hr.

Computers play a major role in the operation of this train. At this speed,
mechanical signals would be of little use, so sensors all along the track inform the train about the status of the track ahead. Among other luxuries is 24 hr.
long distance phone service to anywhere in the world (from inside the train).

Nearly 8 MW of power from overhead wires are needed to produce the required
speed. The train uses regenerative braking esp. on downward slopes. i.e.,
mechanical power from the motors is converted to electricity which feed in to
electromagnets attached to the brakes.

That's all for now,



From: J Mukerji <

Subject: Re: ICE

Date: 26 Jun 1990 08:38:00 -0500

Excerpts from mail: 25-Jun-90 ICE V. Balasubramanian@plump (1057)

> Was watching "Beyond 2000" on the discovery channel a few days back.
> A segment on the Inter City Experimental (ICE) was, needless to say, the
> most interesting. Germany is all set to conquer the exisiting speed
> record held by the TGV (~ 185 miles/hr.)

The intercity speed record (experimental) of TGV happens to be 320.2
MPH (and not 186 MPH), which is already considerably more than 350 KmPH.
So the Germans have some work to do yet. But I guess the film shown on
the Discovery channel is a few years old, and the ICE may have bumped up
its speed a little since the time the film was made.

> The train uses regenerative braking esp. on downward slopes. i.e.,
> mechanical power from the motors is converted to electricity which feed
> in to electromagnets attached to the brakes.

The most commonly used meaning of the term "regenarative braking" is
when the electricity genarated in the process of braking is fed back
into the power grid, i.e. the motors act as genarators to produce
electricity for use by others. The ICE breaking is an interesting
variant of that, and in some sense is more like "dynamic braking" than
"regenerative braking". In dynamic braking the elctricity genarated from
the motors is dissipated as heat in banks of resistors, usually mounted
on the roof of the lcocomotive.

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

From: Vijay Balasubramanian <

Subject: What's up guys?

Date: 26 Jul 1990 10:07:00 -0500

Hi Folks,

Was watching "Around the world in 80 days" on A&E, a few days back, the
"traveler" being Micheal Palin (of 'A Fish Called Wanda' fame). The 60 mt.
episode covered his stay in Bombay and Madras. The best part was his journey
from Dadar to Madras on the Dadar Madras Exp. It starts off with the train
being shown leaving Dadar station and passing Kurla station. The is followed
by a glimpse of the train encountering the Ghats. The day is wrapped up with
a shot of Pune station at night. The next day, our train is seen crossing a
river bridge in the late hours of the morning. Mr. Palin is busy conversing
with an Indian lady. He is curious about what unites India to which the
lady has no convincing answer.

Anyway, the next shot is of the train stopping at Kondapuram (between Gooty
and Cuddapah). Our hero is busy experimenting with guavas at the station.
We rejoin him at lunch where he is having a rather uncomfortable time
finishing the South Indian special (as he puts it). The concluding shots
are those of the train hauled by a WAM-4 between Tirupati and Madras, and
the train entering Madras Central on time.

On a different note, I got hold of "Railway Operation - by De Costa".
A friend of mine bought it from India. It seems to be quite fascinating as it
describes all aspects of Indian Railway Operation including Passanger and Goods
Trains, Signalling, etc. I have just finished reading thru' the Chapter on
passanger train operation. The section on how time-tables are made and updated
was an eye-opening one. Will describe its contents later. (Right now I am
under some pressure to wrap up my Ph.D. by Oct. end. Have told IBM,
Poughkeepsie, that I'll be available from Nov. 1)


P.S. I hate to say this, but is this the end of IRFCA?

From: manish <

Subject: Re: what's up guys

Date: 26 Jul 1990 14:36:00 -0500

Hi guys,

The mention of De Costa's book reminded me that I had been
wanting to ask this group what are some of the good books on
Indian railways. I am planning to visit India this December,
and may buy some.

Also, hope you guys read the article on European
Expresses, (Orient, and some otthers), in Sunday edition (Travel section)
of NYT, few Sundays ago. If you missed it, hunt for it.
It made an interesting reading.

One more question , does Amtrak offer some kind of deal
like one month travel in USA for limited amount of money ?
Of course, I can call Amtrak and find out, but if any of you
know about it, I would like to know how good the deal is.

:- Manish

From: Vijay Balasubramanian <

Subject: Railway Books!

Date: 27 Jul 1990 10:00:00 -0500

Hi Folks,

In reply to Manish's query:

I have two interesting books with me:

1. Railway Operation - by Francis Da Costa (about Rs. 45)
2. Electric Traction - by H. Partab (about Rs. 40)

I recommend the following two:

1. Advanced Railway Operation - by Francis Da Costa (Rs. ??)
2. History of Indian Railways - by Agrawal (about Rs. 300)


From: apte <

Subject: Keep It Up

Date: 03 Aug 1990 08:51:00 -0500

Hello out there,

Glad to note that the IRFCA is alive and kicking. Time constraints on all
contributors' schedules probably dictate that this mailing group cannot be
prolific *ALL* the time! Still, its nice to have some discussion now and then.

Some trivia that might interest the IRFCA :

* On books: "SUPERTRAINS" by Aaron E. Klein is a reasonably decent recording of
the history of railways in N. America, Europe and Japan. Breathtaking pictures
and a description of the history of the "ORIENT EXPRESS" add to the book's

* On films: The movie "SILVER STREAK" was aired on FOX yesterday. I was
disappointed : Gene Wilder, Richard Pryor and some good shots of the Silver
Streak fail to lift the movie about the ordinary. In terms of train footage, I
must say that the film I liked the most was "The Bullet Train", a Japanese film
dubbed in english. One shot that was particularly unforgettable was the
transport of some equipment from one bullet train to another with BOTH RUNNING
AT TOP SPEED! Maybe some others would like to share what their most memorable
film-train moment has been.

Thats all for now folks,

From: Dheeraj Sanghi <>

Subject: Article from SCI

Date: 15 Aug 1990 10:40:00 -0500

Path: mimsy!haven!udel!wuarchive!!swrinde!ucsd!rutgers!att!cbnewsk!erik1
From: (erik.westgard)
Newsgroups: soc.culture.indian
Subject: Re: AIR News
Summary: India Railways Service
Keywords: India, railroad
Message-ID: <
Date: 14 Aug 90 19:18:36 GMT
References: <
Sender: Erik Westgard
Followup-To: iwhawk!erik
Organization: AT&T Bell Laboratories
Lines: 14

The recent news about further improvements in passenger
service on the Indian Railways is somewhat contradictory
to the report in India Worldwide (5/90 issue, P.49) on
the Railway Minister, Mr. Fernandes. The article states "...he
can give vent...with an occasional word or two, at most, against
large-scale computerization and superfast trains that his
predecessor Madhav Rao Scindia introduced."

My reading of the new book by Royston Ellis, "India by Rail"
published in 1989 by Bradt (UK) and Hunter (USA) indicates
that a visitor armed with the right Indrail pass could
have a very enjoyable trip these days. Who can help
me sort this out? Is service improving, or going in reverse?

From: Vijay Balasubramanian <


Date: 15 Aug 1990 12:54:00 -0500


Dheeraj writes:
> that a visitor armed with the right Indrail pass could
> have a very enjoyable trip these days. Who can help

What exactly are the implications of the word "right" here? Is this a hint
at connections in the "right" places and with the "right" people? Or is it
just an innocent reference to the nature of the pass? Beats me!

BTW, Dhrubes informs me that committees have been set up to proceed on with
the Konkan Rly. project, and the doubling of the Barddhamman-Barharwa line.
The name escapes me right now.


From: Ajai Banerji <

Subject: Railway trivia from SCI

Date: 24 Aug 1990 16:34:00 -0500

Newsgroups: soc.culture.indian
Subject: Railway Trivia


Longest station name: Venkatanarasimharajuvaripeta halt, on the Arakkonam-
Renigunta section of the Southern Railway. This station really does
exist; I used to look out for it while travelling that way. No other
station name comes anywhere near in length; possibly the nearest
competitors are Fatehabad Chandrawatiganj(near Indore), Tondalagopavaram
(near Vijayawada) and Mullagunnathukavu (near Trichur). There is also
a Giani Zail Singh Sandhwan somewhere in Punjab; no doubt the Khalistanis
must have renamed it by now.

Shortest station name: Ib, near Jharsuguda on the South Eastern Railway. The
next shortest is Bad, near Mathura.

Longest run: It is difficult to answer this without a timetable in hand, but
it is either the Himsagar express(between Kanyakumari and Jammu) or the
Trivandrum-Gauhati express. Both take about 72 hours to cover about 3200 km.
However, in the British days there used to be a Mangalore-Peshawar express
which took about 104 hours(in 1930). This is longer than the Orient Express
which took about 60 hours between Paris and Istanbul), but it of
course pales into insignificance before the Trans-Siberian
Express which takes about 170 hours (even today)between Moscow and Vladivostok.

More trivia to follow....


From: (Shri Subhasis Chaudhuri)
Newsgroups: soc.culture.indian
Subject: Re: Railway Trivia

You left out "Narayana-Pakuriya-Muraila" in SE railway, exactly
halfway between Howrah and Kharagpur.



From: Dheeraj Sanghi <

Subject: Indian Railways Passenger Reservation System

Date: 10 Sep 1990 16:39:00 -0500

------- Forwarded Message

From: (Dr. S Ramani)
Newsgroups: soc.culture.indian
Subject: Indian Railways Passenger Reservation System

The Indian Railways have now put their computers in Delhi, Madras,
Bombay and Calcutta on a datacom network, to make return
reservations and remote reservations easier. The network is going
to be extended to a number of other cities this year. The
computers are VAX 8600, VAX 8650, VAX 6240, and a VAX 6310. They
deal with passenger reservations on a dedicated basis. The network
handles journey reservations on any of the five hundred passenger
trains in the databases of the four computers at any of the
nominated terminals spread over the four cities.

This is a major breakthrough in the annals of computerisation in
India. For a change, it works for the common man. 200,000 people a
day benefit from the technology, for which software was developed
completely in India jointly by CMC Ltd and Northern Railway.

Any of you interested in this can write to

Dr AJ Kumar,
Chief Commercial Superintendant,
Northern Rly HQ, IRCA Building,
Chelmsford Road, New Delhi 110 055

Phone: 345 775
(New Delhi - Country code 91, City code 11)

------- End of Forwarded Message

From: anand <

Subject: Computer reservations

Date: 11 Sep 1990 01:05:00 -0500

Now that the computers are networked, I suppose that it will finally be
possible to make return reservations without a quota. I also hope that they
have made suitable provisions for fault tolerance!

Unfortunately during my last trip to India, I was unable to do much
of my traveling by train (It would have definitely been faster than
Indian Airlines for sure!). Does anyone know how much of the Vijaywada
Ballharsha section has been electrified?

Also, my memory is a bit hazy: Western railway uses 1.5 KV DC near
Bombay but the usual 25 KV AC elsewhere. Do they have dual system AC
locos which can change systems on the fly?

R. Anand

From: Vijay Balasubramanian <


Date: 10 Sep 1990 16:05:00 -0500

Hi Folks,

The March 1990 issue of Indian Railways did have an article about
networking of computers for facilitating return reservations, etc.
At that time, only Delhi-Bombay/Cal/Madras and Cal-Madras had been connected in
this fashion. Good to know that the progress has been a steady one.

Regarding Anand's remark about the quota system, is it true that the
quota system enforces some kind of limit on the number of seats/berths that
can be reserved well in advance? Or is it more of a guarantee of availibility
of berths close to the departure date? Specifically, can one reserve more
than the no. of berths alloted by quota, say, three months in advance?

The N. Delhi - Madras Central route is completely electrified except
for the Itarsi - Nagpur section, which is currently under electrification.
The projected date of completion is around Dec. 1990. However, some
trains such as the Ganga Kaveri Exp. and the Navjeevan Exp., change
locomotives at Kazipet, and are diesel hauled in the Balharshah-Kazipet section.
This is done to ensure that locomotive changeovers take place only at
stations with proper shed/workshop facilities for the locos.

Virar is the DC-AC changeover station in the Bombay Central - Vadodara
section. A special fleet of dual current AC-DC locos. (WCAM1) are in operation
in this section. These locos. do change systems (including pantographs) on the
run. This requires the loco. to run on its own momentum for a short while.
These longer-than-normal locos can operate at a max. speed of 90 kmph.



From: Vicraj T. Thomas <

Subject: "networked" reservations system

Date: 10 Sep 1990 12:29:00 -0500

I was in India this past summer and had the opportunity to see this "network"
in action.

I had to reserve some tickets at Delhi on a Madras-Delhi train. To do this I
had to go to the N. Delhi railway station (couldn't do it at the other
ticketing offices around town) and that too only at certain specific counters
(they had 4 counters for Madras-Delhi bookings). I therefore wonder if it
really was a network or was it just those terminals that were hooked up via
long-distance lines to the computer in Madras. Shouldn't one be able to use
any counter at any ticketing office if it was really a computer network? No,
there is none of the old quota system anymore -- no reason to have that

As for my experience that day, it wasn't in the least bit pleasant. Of the 4
terminals (windows) that handled bookings/cancellations from Madras, only 2
were open. Inspite of repeated protests by people in the queue, all that the
superisor who'd ocassionally come by was able tell us that he was looking for
more people to man the other windows (he claimed he was short-handed because of
people on summer vacation). One of the booking clerks was so slow that it
wouldn't have made much of a difference if that window wasn't open. After the
lunch break (which is only 10 mins -- that's when the shift changes), three
clerks showed up and so one of them went to a third window. He typed away at
the terminal for a few minutes announced it was broken and left. I was right
in front of his window when he did that and so got to see what he did. His
terminal asked for a username to which he responded with RESV (I think). I
don't know what password he typed (honest, I didn't even try to look!) but the
password was rejected. He tried once more only to be rejected again, announced
the system was down and left! [Aside: from the Username: prompt I guess the os
used is vms. The terminals and printers were from DEC, Australia.]

I was in line for 4 hrs before I could book the tickets. The only pleasant
thing about the experience was the air-conditioning -- the waiting in hot,
stuffy rooms is a thing of the past. Making the Delhi-Madras reservations was
however very convenient and quick. On the whole I liked the system -- I just
hope I happened to pick a bad day or the return reservation setup was going
through some teething problems.

< Vic

-------- Dept. of Computer Science
..!{uunet|noao}!arizona!vic University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721

From: Manish Malhotra <


Date: 11 Sep 1990 13:56:00 -0500

I was in Delhi when all the computerisation took place. For a year or
more, I used this facility to book the tickets for anywhere I had to go from
Delhi. Few observations :-

1. At that time, there was no facility for return reservations. However,
for different purposes, one had to go to different windows. There were
windows for I class reservation, windows for II class reservations,
a window for group reservation, windows for general queries, etc.
No wonder they have windows for return reservations only.

2. One of things I hated about this system was that the people handling
reservations were not authorised to handle student discounts/ military
discounts etc. I had to stand in another queue at a window on Platform 9
to get a signature on student discount forms. (Always an hour's wait
at least in the heat). Then take the form to this office ( 1 Km away),
and stand in another queue for reservation. For a while, they authorised
a clerk at one of the windows in reservations office to handle this
(which saved the walk to the platform 9), but withdrew this service
later on. Painful !

3. My advice, avoid going to this office around noon which happens to be
their lunch time. (Actually the duties change, and new people take over)
They usually are lazy and take time to set themselves up.
The best time to go for reservations was 8.00 AM when the windows open.
Else the waiting time in rush hours is still an hour or so.
Or take a lady with you, they have separate queue for them which may not
be so long !

:- Manish

From: Ramesh S. Rao <

Subject: *BG in TamilNadu*

Date: 11 Sep 1990 09:21:00 -0500

From: Ramesh S. Rao (Ram)
Organization: Artecon
2460 Impala Drive, Carlsbad CA 92008, USA
Phone: 619-931-5500 Ext 173
Fax: 619-931-5527
X-Mailer: ELM [version 2.2 PL3]

Does any of the IRFCAs out there know what happened to the
much-sought-after Madurai-Dindigul Broad Gauge line?

Another interesting point :
The Kanyakumari-Bombay Express has its origin in TamilNadu.
But since it travels thru most part of Kerala, the
train has the destinations (remember the convex yellow strip
of board outside the bogie?) written in Malayalam (of course,
Hindi and English are always present).
A small group of people from Coimbatore were protesting the
decision of Indian Railways to keep Tamil out of it. I wonder
what happened to that one too.

Did you guys, just like I did, place a coin on the track - watch the
huge engine run over it - and see if the flattened piece of metal
actually "turned into a magent" - during childhood days ??

"Of all the things I have lost, I miss my mind the most"
Ramesh S Rao ::::: hp-sdd!artecon!ram (or) :::::
619-931-5500 ::::: (or) ::::: (W)
619-434-9074 ::::: uunet! ::::: (H)

From: Vijay Balasubramanian <


Date: 11 Sep 1990 12:41:00 -0500

Hi Folks,

All this talk about computerized reservations brings back memories of my
India trip last Deecember. I only used the facility (ha!) once at Howrah.
I had to reserve a ticket for Varanasi on any convenient train departing the
next night. I had put down Kalka Mail as my choice on the form (with Mughal
Sarai as the destination), and was hoping to convince the man-at-the-counter
to suggest alternatives if the above wasn't available. As luck would have it,
the guy was inpet in handling the computer with the result that our line was
moving at a snail's pace. We sufferers tried our best to indicate the sorry
state of affairs by exercising our vocal chords, but that didn't help a bit!
Finally, it was my time to face the window, and I
could see that our man was impatient to leave the premises as it was 'sarcasm
on*ONLY*sarcasm off' 10 mts. to lunch. To my dismay he announced that there
was nothing available on the Kalka Mail, and he relunctently search thru'
the display to find out the status of Hwh.-Bombay Mail via Allahabad, the
next best alternative. This too was booked full. Before I could say anything
further, our man had shut the counter and departed.

Retaining my composure, I then headed towards the enquiry counter to find
out all the possible alternatives; this would be my second wait of the day.
The Rajdhani Exp. was booked full for the
next one week, but there were berths available on the Deluxe Exp.
Howrah-Varansi commuters must have been put off by the fact that this wastes an
entire day. Realizing that I had no other choice, I hurried back to one of the
reservation counters, making sure to skip the notorious one. While buying the
tickets, I learnt about a possible flaw in this system of computerized
reservations, which brings to me to this queston:

Does the computer assign seats in strict order or can one decide on the
location of berths/seats as could be done earlier?
Specifically, can a party of two ask for the window-berth pair? Can a party
of three ask for the three seats-in-a-row in the cabin?



P.S.: Fate had other things in store for me, as I ended up canceling my ticket
and traveling by the Hwh.-Delhi Exp. instead. How I endured the
maddening rush from Patna till Mughal Sarai, is another story.

From: Manish Malhotra <

Subject: Re: (Vijay's mail)

Date: 11 Sep 1990 14:53:00 -0500

Nope, I don't think you can get seats assigned as you want them
to be. At least once I requested them to do that, but the person
in charge refused saying that it is strictly sequential.

As it happens, many times I have obliged people by giving up
my berth (because his wife is in the other compartment, etc etc),
. I was the best choice since I used to be travelling alone.
Come to think of it, I now remember doing it 70 % of the time !

However, they might be able to do that for groups. (not very sure).
Personally, I don't think the database supports lot of
such operations, which would make it more user friendly.
Hence, when the computer searches for a vacant seat, it does so
sequentially. (In abstract sense).

:- Manish

From: anand <


Date: 11 Sep 1990 15:22:00 -0500

Ramesh talks about flattening coins on the tracks. Yes, I used to do it
too. My friends and I would go to the Northern railway mainline near
Tilak bridge and put coins there. I still have a 10p coin flattened by
the Delhi - Jhansi passenger. Still steam in those days - A WP.

Incidentally, It is my opinion that the tiny Pragati Maidan station was
one of the best spots for train watching. This is the "Y" shaped

Over the Jamuna to Ghaziabad

/ \
/ \
To New Delhi -----+-------+--- To Hazrat Nizamuddin

At the peak times (between 5 and 6 pm) there would be one train every 30

One interesting thing I remember was that the Delhi Howrah Rajdhani was
always pulled by a WDM 4 rather than an electric. I wonder why.

Anand | This is great! So the upper berth goes to Madras | and the lower berth goes to Delhi!.

From: Vijay Balasubramanian <


Date: 11 Sep 1990 13:30:00 -0500

Hi IRFCAites,

In reply to Ramesh's query: Karur-Dindigul BG line is in operation. My
guess is, the Dindigul-Madurai BG line is still under construction. The MG line is to be retained, right?

About the coin on the track, I do remember having fun at Karaikkovilapathu,
serving the township of Karaikkal, about 60 km. east of Mayuram Jn. (now
Mayiladuturai). This was way back in 1972, when one of my uncles was posted
in Karaikkal as part of the ONGC transfers. The Karaikkal - Peralam MG line
was served by a lone passanger train with only three coaches. I would
rush to the tracks just before the train arrived and place a few coins,
in time to see them flattened by the wheels. Sometimes, the steam from
the engine would blow them away.
Another prank was to glue my ears to the track, and listen to the rumblings.



From: Vijay Balasubramanian <


Date: 11 Sep 1990 13:56:00 -0500

Hi Folks,

Anand writes:
> One interesting thing I remember was that the Delhi Howrah Rajdhani was
> always pulled by a WDM 4 rather than an electric. I wonder why.

The Hwh.-Delhi Rajdhani used to be hauled by a WDM-2 even after the complete
electrification of the Howrah- N. Delhi route. I believe, these WDM-2s had
a superior bogie design which meant that the train could accelerate faster
and brake at higher speeds. Mughal Sarai had workshop facilities to handle
maintenance of these locos.; this explained the 12 mt. halt
(probably to change locos.). But the train length was limited to 8 coaches.

Then IR introduced the high speed WAP-1 AC eletric loco. sometime
in 1984(?), which could
haul an 18 coach Rajdhani at a max. speed of 120 kmph. What puzzles me is that
the train continues to have a 12 mt. halt at Mughal Sarai, even though
maintenance of these locos. is done at Ghaziabad.