IRFCA Mailing List Archive

Messages 261 - 280

From: Swaminathan Srinivasan PHY <

Subject: Re: maglev

Date: 14 Sep 1990 09:38:00 -0500

The maglev can be levitated using a magnetic field, but, as someone
mentioned, propelling it forward would need electricity. If I know this
correctly, superconductors are strongly diamagnetic and this provides the
repelling force to hold the maglev up. Propulsion would need an alternating
sequence of N and S poles, and these have to be switched as the train moves
forward in order to make sure there is no backward pull. Assuming that the
magnets are equally spaced, the rate at which they switch magnetic polarities
(with current now flowing in the opposite direction) would depend on the
speed at which the train is moving forward. Unless every maglev accelerates
at the same rate every run, this timing cannot be pre-programmed and will
require precise real-time control. Hence it is not likely that the propulsion
is done with magnetic fields.

Assuming all the above is correct, a negative magnetic pull being used to
stop the maglev seems unlikely. I do not know much about regenerative braking
and hence would not like to display my ignorance; however, I would like to
ask if that would be sufficiently strong to stop a maglev all by itself,
especially since there is no friction.

curious as ever,

From: Vijay Balasubramanian <

Subject: In defence of IR!

Date: 14 Sep 1990 12:40:00 -0500

Hi Folks,

Following Dheeraj's example:

/* Written 1:30 pm Sep 14, 1990 by in */
/* ---------- "Re: More Railway Trivia" ---------- */

In response to Sanyal's remarks in article <

> Why not travel by Bullock Carts then? Speed is more of an issue to me
> when I see that Indian Railways often charges more for traveling by
> slower trains!!!
> Example: Second class sleeper Calcutta to Delhi. Travel by Howrah-Kalka
> Mail, you pay less and cover the distance in about 24 hours. Often
> however, Kalka mail is solidly booked, so maybe you choose Howrah-Delhi
> Express. Now not only does it take about 34 hours to get there, you also
> pay more in sleeper charges and mileage. Indian Railways is simply not

1. First of all, the difference in fares due to the additional 96 km. traveled
by the Hwh.-Delhi Exp. is only Rs. 5, which is compensated by the Rs. 6 sleeper
surcharge levied on the superfast Kalka Mail.

2. Secondly, one often tends to ignore the
important fact that long distance trains,
besides serving their terminii, also cater to the needs of the INTERMEDIATE
stations. Hence, it is often the case that there is a gradation in terms of
speed/no. of halts, as far the organization of multiple trains between the
same terminii pair are concerned.

Take the example of the Bombay-Howrah trunk route, which also illustrates
that SPEED IS NOT ALWAYS THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE. Convenience of departure and
arrival times is another very important factor to be considered.
The fastest train to connect these cities is the superfast Gitanjali Exp. taking
about 32 hrs. to cover the ~1920 km. distance.
The Bombay - Howrah Mail (via Nagpur) takes about 4 hrs. more to travel the
same distance, but is somewhat preferred over the Gitanjali Exp.,by Bombay-Hwh.
commuters because of its evening time departure from either terminii
and an early morning arrival at the destination. On the other hand, the Mail
is a lousy idea as far as Tata-Bombay passengers are concerned because
of its odd timings at Tatanagar in either direction, and the Gitanjali takes

The B'by- Howrah Mail via Allahabad, which is the next train in this
sequence, caters more to North/North-East bound passengers from Bombay than to
Calcutta commuters; in fact, coaches are detached at Jabalpur, Allahabad and
and Gaya, as the train proceeds towards Howrah.
In addition, coaches bound for Patna are detached at Mughal Sarai.

The last on the list is the Howrah - Bombay Exp. (via Nagpur) which takes
about 41 hrs. This is predominantly used by commuters between B'by/Hwh. and
intermediate stations, and is the last resort to B'by-Hwh. travelers.

3. A factor that goes against high average speeds of passenger trains
is the possibility of an
adverse effect on goods train operation. It has been mathematically
demonstrated ("Railway Operation" by Da Costa)
that a high speed train often cuts the path of two-three
goods trains. Hence, the decision to introduce such trains on a
particular section has to be undertaken with caution. It might interest you
to know that the railways in the Soviet Union are unique in that the average
speed of passenger trains was lower than that of goods trains, till a few
years back. In fact, their average goods train speed is one of the highest in
the world.


Vijay Balasubramanian
Univ. of Illinois
/* End of text from */

From: Ramesh S. Rao <

Subject: *New(?) rules in IR?*

Date: 14 Sep 1990 13:32:00 -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]

Hi guys,
Last time i was in India, I took Bombay-Kanyakumari express from
Bombay to Coimbatore. There were a number of guys travelling with
me and as expected almost everyone had two or three of those *huge*
trunk boxes. The TTE came along with the "flying squad" this time
and fined Rs 120 all those guys who happened to be carrying
steel folding chairs. The trunk-carrying guys got away scotfree.
The TTE claimed that according to new
"rules"(?) you'll have to pay the fine because steel chairs are
not free luggage anymore. Have you experienced this before?
Also he started asking details about what your initials stood for,
when was the ticket booked and by who etc. It was amazing to note
that he actually had all those litlle cards that we use at the time
of reservation. Is this a mark of "efficiency" or a mark of
"police state" ? What do you IRFCAites think?

Did you know that there was a lot of protest from southern Andhra
recently when the familiar steam engines were replaced by diesel
engines? Why? Them people had always befriended the engine drivers
and got buckets of water out of the steam engines which was not
possible anymore because of the switch!
"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: Atul A. Patankar <


Date: 16 Sep 1990 23:36:00 -0500

Thanks a lot to < who replied to my
question on brakeing mechanisms in trains. I am surprisedd though,
by the fact that in the Dynamin/Regenerative braking, the electricity
generated is not stored in some kinda battery backup, but is literally
"fanned" away. I also wondered if the "eddie current" thingy is not
used. How effective will be the braking power if just the motors are
converted to generates?

On the recent topic on steam locos : if coal is used in the thermal power
plants to generate electricity and then the electricity is used to move
trains, can anybody give an idea of the efficiency of each of these
processes? eg, if the plant is 30% efficient and the loco engine is 30%
efficient, this together is only 9% efficient. The steam loco, if say 15%
efficienrt, may still be a better option energy conservationwise, not
mentioning that the "overheads" are huge for electric traction.


From: J Mukerji <

Subject: Re: efficiency of steam vs electric

Date: 17 Sep 1990 09:25:00 -0500

Excerpts from mail: 16-Sep-90 "Atul A. Patankar" (950)

> On the recent topic on steam locos : if coal is used in the thermal power
> plants to generate electricity and then the electricity is used to move
> trains, can anybody give an idea of the efficiency of each of these
> processes? eg, if the plant is 30% efficient and the loco engine is 30%
> efficient, this together is only 9% efficient. The steam loco, if say 15%
> efficienrt, may still be a better option energy conservationwise, not
> mentioning that the "overheads" are huge for electric traction.

Electric locomotives themselves are extremely efficient energy
converters. Their efficiency typically is in the 90% to 95%
range.However, to do the total energy computation there are many more
things that need to be taken into consideration. For example:

For steam traction: energy used in process and transporting coal to each
coal loading point needs to be included in the equation.

For electric traction: energy used to process and transport
coal/oil/uranium to power plant and the energy lost in power
transmission needs to be taken into account in addition to the obvious
efficiency of electricity generation and conversion into mechanical

Note that these are the recurring costs. There is also a one time cost
of setting the whole thing up and a small recurring cost of maintaining
the setup.

On the whole for high traffic densities electric comes out better than
both steam and diesel by a very long shot. It is also environmentally
much cleaner than the other two.

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

From: Mukunda Kantamneni <

Subject: Further on train brakes!

Date: 17 Sep 1990 09:31:00 -0500

> From Sun Sep 16 22:44:30 1990
> From: "Atul A. Patankar" <
> Thanks a lot to < who replied to my
> question on brakeing mechanisms in trains. I am surprisedd though,
> by the fact that in the Dynamin/Regenerative braking, the electricity
> generated is not stored in some kinda battery backup, but is literally

The main reason is we do not have good batteries yet, that
are light, inexpensive, store enough power and can be charge
in a short time. If only we have those batteries available
as Atul suggested we can certainly re use the energy collected
during regenerative braking mode!

Again if we have the good battries, we will be seeing sleek
and clean electric cars all around.

Several years back, I was reading in a technical magazine that
some where in Europe they were developing a bus that can store
Kinetic Energy in a fly wheel while decending a hill and can
re use it while climbing up the hill. I am not sure what extent
this system was successful!

> "fanned" away. I also wondered if the "eddie current" thingy is not
> used. How effective will be the braking power if just the motors are
> converted to generates?

I found that the regenerative brakes were very effective and
the drivers were using them all the time, particulary while
in down gradient and slowing down at higher speeds.

I downshift a lot (5sp std) in controlling my car. Also, I don't
use brakes much in climbing down a hill. I put the car under
engine control -- i.e use the same gear that you would use to
climb a hill while climbing down the same hill. This not only
improves the brake pad/shoe life and prevents fading under
excessive heat. Some people argue, this method puts excessive
strain on the trasmission components which are more expensive to
repair! I believe transmissions are built to takeup all of these
loads and I never had any trasmission related problems.

I realize the concept of using dynamic brake on trains is more
or less same.



From: Ajai Banerji <

Subject: IRFCA

Date: 18 Sep 1990 15:34:00 -0500

As a new entrant to IRFCA, I was intrigued to see the volume of traffic
in the past few weeks. We seem to have a lot of technical buffs amongst
us: aren't there any specialists in railway history or plain timetable
buffs? My primary "research interests" are in history of the railways
prior to independence and I will post on this topic from time to time.
Here is a sample:
This train started running in 1929 just after the construction of the
Kazipet-Balharshah section, which was the last link in the Delhi-Madras
route. (I wonder what they did before that: presumably they went from
Delhi to Madras via Bombay or Calcutta). Initially the Grand Trunk
Express ran from Peshawar to Mangalore and took about 104 hours. This
must surely be the longest run of any train in the subcontinent. Soon
this service was changed to Lahore-Mettupalaiyam. In 1930 it reached
its present status while running between Delhi and Madras.
This information is taken from the annual report of 1930-31. There
were probably more changes along the way. My father had travelled by
the Grand Trunk in around 1945 and he was sure that it ran between
Madras and Peshawar at that time. Travel had peculiar problems in
those days. While passing through Hyderabad state (on the grandiosely
titled "His Exalted Highness the Nizam's Guaranteed State Railway",
the platform vendors refused to accept Indian currency since this state
had its own currency.

From: Atul A. Patankar <


Date: 18 Sep 1990 21:16:00 -0500

Hey You Kukooooch - zuk - zuk - zuk - zuk fans,

Getting into the economics a little bit : here is what I heard in
an old election campaigning by some party I dont care to remember -
The Bombay suberban railway system is so neat and the commuters so
deciplined that the system as a unit always runs in profit. However,
due to the losses incurred elsewhere in the country due to thefts,
ticketless travelers etc the revenues are siphoned away and the commuters
have to bear the fare increases to compensate for this. This is unfair and
thus the subarban railway should be operated as a separate profit unit.
This will result in lower local fares and lots of improvements.

I did a little bit of enquiring and found some railway employees agreeing
to the fact that the sub. sys. does run in a profit despite some amount
of ticketless travellers. Now that made me wonder if that campaign was
justified. I have travelled a great deal on IR and IMHO, the freeloaders
do have a ball in some places and compared to them the Bombay system is
quite deciplined. I found the overall decipline more in Maharashtra and
Gujrat than in other states, though I am sure there will be disagreements.
I agree on, say, more electricity charges per unit for the class A cities
since they are serviced with higher priority, but this rail fares thing is
not the same. What do you IR fans think about this? Am I overlooking


PS : Whenever I say "railway fans" I get visions of those old Bombay local
(air) fans which were black, used to make "kat kat kat" noises and
used to rotate :-))

BTW, lest we jump to conclusions, the party was NOT the Shiv Sena.

From: Dheeraj Sanghi <

Subject: Bombay suburban trains.

Date: 19 Sep 1990 13:45:00 -0500

I seriously doubt if Railways make profit on any suburban operation.
I know Railways have been quite opposed to starting suburban services
in Delhi, unless the local government makes good all the losses. I
also seem to remember that there was some financing agreement before
the plans for services to New Bombay were finalized. To the best of
my knowledge, IR has always been asking Bombay municipality to share
the costs. Officially, Railways claim they lose close to Rs 100 crore
every year on Bombay suburban trains. To put it other way, ticket
prices would have to double to turn the system into no profit no loss.

As far as discipline is concerned (paying for tickets etc.), I have
not travelled in suburban trains outside Bombay, and I do not have
many statistics, but I do know that there is an "insurance company"
in Bombay, which will insure you against ticket checking. You pay
some fixed monthly charges (Rs. 20 or so) and then travel ticketless
for the whole month. Whenever you get caught and fined, the "company"
will pay the fine. I did not find the ticket inspector very many times,
but whenever I did, he seemed too busy with lots of ticketless

In my limited experience, I have found South to be much more efficient,
less corrupt etc. and the West, and both of them far better than North.
(Is it familiarity breeds contempt? I have travelled far more in North
than in West and South.) I haven't travelled in the East at all.


From: Ajai Banerji <

Subject: Railway Gauges

Date: 21 Sep 1990 15:59:00 -0500


BROAD GAUGE (5'6'') Most of India's main routes are on this gauge. It is
relatively uncommon in the world railways, being largely confined to the
Indian subcontinent, Spain and Portugal. The logic behind this wider gauge
(compared to the standard gauge of 4'8.5") was mainly to ensure that trains
would not get derailed by storms. This broad gauge is the widest in common
use in the world today, though the 7-foot gauge was widely used in England
in the 19th century.
Interestingly, the U.S. also has a bit of broad gauge-the Bay Area Rapid
Transit (BART) which serves San Francisco and neighbouring cities. This
system was probably the costliest and most controversial subway system in the
U.S. When it was planned in the 1960s, the designers came up with the 5'6''
gauge as optimal, even though it had not been used anywhere in the U.S.

From: Ajai Banerji <

Subject: Railway Gauges(Contd)

Date: 21 Sep 1990 16:40:00 -0500

(Sorry, my previous posting got interrupted. This is a continuation)

As mentioned, the BART subway system uses the 5'6" gauge. Probably they
this would give a smoother ride. I have travelled on subways in several U.S.
and European cities, apart from Calcutta and found that BART was probably the
smoothest ride and least noisy. Of course, the Calcutta metro compares
favourably with others throughout the world.

METRE GAUGE(3'3.375") This too has its stronghold in India, though it is also
found in other countries like Burma and some African countries.The world's
first commercial m.g. service ran from Delhi to Rewari in 1873. Interesingly,
the metre gauge networks in northern and southern India were not linked until
1961, when the Khandwa-Hingoli route was completed.
The metre-gauge line from Mettupalaiyam to Udagamandalam(Ooty) is not
connected to other metre-gauge lines. The normal m.g. locos and rolling-stock
cannot run on this line because of the sharp curves, so it has special equip-
-ment. This is the only example of a rack railway in India.

NARROW GAUGE(2'6'')This gauge was adopted in various parts of the British
Empire.Contrary to popular belief, these are not merely toy railways but have
considerable networks-particularly in Gujarat(mostly the old Baroda State
Railway) and in MP(centred around Gondia on the S.E.R.). The most well-known
line is probably the Kalka-Shimla.
However, not all narrow gauge in India is 2'6''.

NARROW GAUGE(2')These include:
New Jalpaiguri-Darjeeling
Neral Matheran
The Gwalior branch lines
Howrah-Amta and Howrah-Sheakhala, which closed down and are now being rebuilt
as broad gauge.
Can anyone think of other lines on 2' gauge?

OTHER INDIAN GAUGES: One of the obscure lines in Bengal (I think it was
Naihati-Azimganj) was initially built to 4' gauge and soon converted to b.g.
Also,3'6'' was used at one time(Can't recall the exact line)

OTHER GAUGES WORLDWIDE: The most popular gauge is the standard gauge(4'8.5").
is also popular in some countries. The Soviet system is 5', which is found
nowhere else. Apparently they chose it so that invaders could not run their
trains while attacking Russia! However, on trains running between France and
Spain, as well as Poland and USSR there is an arrangement to change the wheel
sets at the border so that through passengers do not have to change bogies.
Wonder if this would be feasible in India? Probably not for bg and mg, as
there is too much difference. It might be feasible for mg and ng, but that
wouldn't help much.
(Some of the above information is taken from the Guinness book of rail facts&
feats(1979 edn), which is probably the best book for general railway trivia.
It should be available in university libraries. I believe there is a new
edit-\-ion with a slightly different title, but haven't seen it myself)

From: Dheeraj Sanghi <>

Subject: Re: Railway Gauges

Date: 24 Sep 1990 16:25:00 -0500

I am surprised that India had gauges other than BG, MG, and two NGs.

The reason India has much fewer number of railway gauges than say in
USA is that it was controlled by British Govt. and not left open to
private business. The standard pact between the railroad companies
and British Govt was that British Govt would provide land free of cost,
and cheap loans, and the companies would agree to a cap on profits.
But British would sign such an agreement only if the company is
building a BG system. Only in hilly tracts, was NG system allowed.

So, if you want to use any other gauge use your own money, and you could
not do it in the British controlled part of India (for they would not
give the right of way.) During 1880's (famine??) British saw that the
railroad development is not going at the pace they would like to see.
They were facing cash crunch, and private investment in the railroad
companies were drying. At this time, they started allowing MG as a
way to save money, a move which has been controversial ever since.


From: Ajai Banerji <

Subject: News

Date: 25 Sep 1990 16:38:00 -0500

NEWS(From Railway Gazette of Sep 1990)

Electric services have started on the Bhusaval-Itarsi section in July.
This means that the Bombay-Delhi route via CR is now fully electrified.
The WR route was fully electrified in 1987.
The Koraput-Rayagada line will be opened next year.

From: Vijay Balasubramanian <


Date: 26 Sep 1990 13:31:00 -0500

Hi Folks,

Ajai writes:
> Electric services have started on the Bhusaval-Itarsi section in July.
> This means that the Bombay-Delhi route via CR is now fully electrified.

A bit of a surprise considering the fact that this route was
un-electrified when I had traveled on the Varanasi - Bombay Mahanagri Exp.
last February (1990). Apparently, IR had plans of diverting the Khandwa-Itarsi
tracks due to the possibility of flooding from the Narmada Sagar project.

Can somebody enlighten me about the status of the Bhusaval-Durg and the
Itarsi-Nagpur sections? These were supposed to be electrified by mid-1990.

A final question: can somebody provide more info. about the Railway Gazette?
What is the extent of news coverage on Indian Railways? How does one subscribe to it?



From: Manish Malhotra <

Subject: Re: Vijay's mail

Date: 26 Sep 1990 15:40:00 -0500

Doesn't Bhusaval-Durg section include Itarsi-Nagpur
section ?

From: Ajai Banerji <

Subject: Vijay's and Manish's postings

Date: 26 Sep 1990 13:30:00 -0500

The Railway Gazette is a monthly published from the UK, and is probably
the only journal giving news and features about railways throughout the world.
Coverage of IR is not too good(few major features) but it does carry a number
of small news items like the ones I posted. This should be available at any
respectable university library. If anyone wants I can get the subscription
If you are interested in the early history of IR, you may like to see the
old issues of this journal.(Stanford has it from 1943, Berkeley has it from
1927). I am curious to know if any university library has earlier issues. A
casual glance at the older issues(particularly pre-independence) shows a
good coverage of IR.
Also note that Itarsi-Nagpur and Bhusaval-Durg are two separate lines,
alth-\-ough the latter does pass through Nagpur.

From: Ajai Banerji <

Subject: Movies on Indian Railways

Date: 01 Oct 1990 09:44:00 -0500

In India Today(a few issues back), it was mentioned that Doordarshan was
showing a serial "In Search of Steam" presumably about the older steam
engines still running in India. Has anyone seen this? Any possibility of
getting the video in the US?
There is a documentary "Romance of the Indian Railways" which has been
screened on PBS a few times. Anyone know about any other movies on the same
topic which may be available here?
Ajai Banerji

From: Vijay Balasubramanian <

Subject: Re: Movies on Indian Railways

Date: 01 Oct 1990 13:26:00 -0500


This reminds me a serial called "Yatra" which Doordarshan had aired a few
years back. I had visited India in Dec-Jan '86 and happened to catch a few
episodes there. It would be nice to get hold of the videos, if possible.

Then, there was Micheal Palin's "Around the world in 80 days". One episode
centered around his trip to Bombay and Madras. This had a ~1/2 hr. clip on
his Bombay-Madras journery on the Dadar-Madras exp.

Digressing from the above topic, did you know that the longest rail bridge
over a river, in India, is the bridge across the Sone river, between
Dehri-on-Sone and Sonnagar in the Mughal Sarai-Asansol Grand Chord section?
It is all but 2 1/4 miles in length.

Another interesting observation is what I call stations of "conflicting
status". On the one hand, these serve as terminii for superfast trains, but
on the other hand, there are trains which do not even stop at these stations.

1. Allahabad:- is the terminus for the superfast Prayagraj Exp., but is
ignored by the Rajdhani Exp.
2. Gwalior:- is the terminus for the superfast Chambal Exp., and the superfast
Taj Exp.; but is ignored by the Navjug Exp.

Are there other such stations?



From: Manish Malhotra <

Subject: Yaatra

Date: 01 Oct 1990 16:19:00 -0500

Although I shall not claim that I saw all the episodes
(not even many episodes), but several of the episodes I saw
, the camera really focused on the people inside the train.

There were glimpses of things one would like to see, but
not enough. What I want to point out is that it may not be
worth your while to take the trouble of getting hold of the
video casettes of this serial. As a serial, I would rate it
as average. Om Puri, Neena Gupta have performed well.

:- Manish

From: Ajai Banerji <

Subject: Yatra and other serials/movies

Date: 03 Oct 1990 15:27:00 -0500

Movies depicting the Indian Railways

Of course, I should have remembered the serial Yatra. There was a BBC serial
called 'Great railway journeys of the world' which had a segment on India.
This was shown on DD some years back.
There was also the film 'Bhowani Junction', though the it was shot in Pakis-
-tan. Lahore station played the title role.
As someone pointed out,the serial 'Yatra' is more of human drama than a
documentary on the railways. A brief summary of the plot may be of interest to
those who haven't seen it.
The story revolves around Om Puri, who is a lance naik travelling around the
country while on transfer. The first part of the serial dealt with a journey
from Kanyakumari to Jammu. As you might guess, this followed the route of the
907/908 Himsagar Express although it was referred to as 81 express.
The second part dealt with a journey from Jaisalmer(Rajasthan) to Badarpur
(Assam). Neena Gupta played a minor role here. The route was via Jodhpur,
Jaipur and Agra and then by the Tinsukia Mail route(via Farakka) to Assam.One
segment depicted the life of the SM of a small station(Srirampur Assam). One
howler was the mention of the non-existent Jaisalmer-Tripura express.
This was a moderately good serial by DD standards.