IRFCA Mailing List Archive
Messages 661 - 680
From: Sridhar Venkataraman <email@example.com
Subject: Re: Catering!
Date: 29 Jul 1991 09:11:00 -0500
V. Sridhar writes:
>About the Nagpur-Itarsi post-electrification scenario I would still
>assume that TN will stop at Itarsi since the engine change and the food
>stop used to happen at Itarsi during the past 1/1.5 yr(s) or so. If
>TN is speeded up I would think that since TN's arrival in New Delhi or
>its departure from New Delhi cannot be changed due to the tremendous
>traffic constraints in New Delhi, Amla could be the food stop towards
>New Delhi and Itarsi could be the food stop the other way.
This brings me to an important question concerning the selection of
catering halts. Is this strongly dependent on what time of the day
the train arrives at that station, or just on the fact that the stn.
has the proper facilities? Since the Pantry Car is equipped to keep
food warm (or warm it up, if necessary), the trays could be loaded at
any time of the day, as long as there is space available. If this is
true, then one wouldn't need special catering halts at all, so I might
be mistaken. A few more questions:
-Is food for the whole day loaded at one stop, or do they distribute it
-Do the empty trays (after the "hogging") need to be returned to the
originating stn. itself, or tray pooling between stns. is allowed?
The concept of trays is nonexistent right now on all major routes of IR.
It is disposable time man, we are moving into the twentyfirst century. Nowadays
food is wrapped in Aluminium foils and acc. to my knowledge there is no facility
to keep things warm.
The lunch is loaded around 10-11:59 (god isn't it tough to specify 12) am.
The dinner is loaded around 6-8 pm. There are no tray problems and so just
a phone call from the previous major halt is all that needs to be done even
a train is delayed for hours.
Let's discuss the scenario for the Tamilnadu and GT exp. As far as
I know, Amla and Ghoradongri handle catering for the GT exp.
For example, the Up GT exp. gets the trays at Amla, which are
received at Ghoradongri and taken back to Amla (probably by another
Earlier, the TN exp. used to be a one-night train leaving
N.Delhi/Madras in the morning. Then Amla used to serve as a
catering/military halt for the Dn. train. My guess is, the Up train
loaded its trays at Balharshah.
Yes still Balharshah is the loading place for both Up and down trains. I am
confused about the Up/Down convention. The train towards ND takes its lunch
while the one towards Madras loads its dinner. For the train towards Madras
(which almost always got delayed when I travelled on it) Itarsi was an ideal
stop since the scheduled arrival was around 10 am and Amla is 2 hrs or so
away from Itarsi while in the other direction the scheduled arrival in Itarsi
is around 6:30 pm which is also an ideal time for loading the dinner.
Since the TN exp. now leaves N.Delhi/Madras in the night, things
might be different. In fact, the TN exp. closely follows the GT exp.
at least in the latter half of the journey (in either direction). So,
it is possible that Amla might have been re-introduced as a catering
halt. I am not sure about Itarsi though.
Still on the topic of food on trains, I had a very bad experience with the
food loaded at Dhond, the rice being half cooked and the dhal could hardly
be described in words. . Anybody else with some bad experiences with food
on trains ???
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From: SIVA. HARI <email@example.com
Date: 29 Jul 1991 14:50:00 -0500
Hi Indian Rly netters,
My dad sent me some newspaper clippings from Indian Express
regarding the Indian Rlys.
Here are some of the highlights
IR Hospital on Wheels
"JEEVAN REKHA" the lifeline express from the impact India
foundation and Indian Rlys, would become the world's first
hospital on whells, when it was flagged off from the Bombay
VT rly station on Tuesday July 16th morning.
The mobile hospital ona 3-coach train would move throughout
the country and stop at all rural stations to provide free
medical aid to the millions of citizens of the country.
According to a Central Rly spokesman, the project was planned
in such a manner that the hospital would be shunted with the
main line trains, and it would make a stop-over at various
stations to provide medical aid to people inhabiting smaller
villages in the vicinity.
The hospital would provide on the spot diagnostic, medical and
surgical treatment. Experts from the medical and technical fields
would treat the citizens for prevention and cure of various diseases.
The three coaches have been converted into a fully fledged air-conditioned
hospital, he said adding that the hospital included a fully equipped operat-
ion theatre for treatment on polio cataract and curable deafness.
It also has a sterization room, a diagnostic centre and lying-in wards.
While the entire project was conceived by the Impact India Foundation, the
Indian Rlys took upon itself the responsibilty of providing the three
coaches and modifying them into a hospital at the Matunga(Bombay) workshop
of the Central Rly.
The CR spokesman said that the pilot project would be conducted in Bihar
at Khalari and Chainpur. The hospital is expected to move throughout
the country as per a scheduled plan.
Excerpted from the Indian Express, Bombay
From: Ajai Banerji <firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Catering on trains
Date: 29 Jul 1991 12:03:00 -0500
In general, the quality of food on the Bombay-Madras route is
the worst among the major trunk routes.
The best food I have eaten at a railway restaurant was at
Ambala Cantt-though that was many years back, when I used
to travel that way once a week. Probably South Indians may
have their favourite station for South Indian food.
Tamilians may appreciate this joke about the quality of
coffee in Kerala. It is said that if you are travelling
by a train like the Madras-Trivandrum Mail, you can tell
where you are by tasting the local coffee. At Palghat (which
is strongly influenced by Tamil culture), the coffee is excellent
though not as good as in Madras. As you move further into Kerala,
if the coffee is bad, it means you are at Ernakulam, and if it is
totally undrinkable you have reached Trivandrum.
(I heard this from a Tamilian living in Kerala).
From: R. Anand | School of Computer and Information Science <email@example.com
Subject: Re: Catering on trains
Date: 30 Jul 1991 08:25:00 -0500
The bad food on the Bombay - Madras route is not completely true . In my
innumerable trips down this line, I always used to look forward to lunch
at Cuddappah when travelling towards Madras. It used to be a lunch worth
waiting for. Dinner at Raichur was not bad and breakfast at Guntakal was
always good - Idli and Medhu Vadai.
From: malhotra <firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Catering/Sugarpine Railroad etc.
Date: 30 Jul 1991 13:14:00 -0500
have been a sucker for quite a while now. Always reading
the interesting stuff that gets posted and not making an effort
to contribute. So here are some of my experiences -
Catering - Catering in Indian Railways is carried out mostly the way
it has been described in the previous mails. However, it is sometimes
different. For instance, in Malwa express (Indore -> N.Delhi way),
the caterer & Co. used to cook food in the pantry car. I used to
walk down to the pantry car and enjoy hot parathas right out of
the large hot plate. I have watched them cook egg-curry in the car.
They may howver be picking up some stuff (Daal, vegetables etc)
from the station. In fact, I don't think they cooked rice on the car
since it wasn't served very hot.
The quality of food in IR is usually quite good. About two and a half
years ago, I traveled by GT. The catering staff was from the south and
they served Idli/Vada as snacks before dinner. Also, with the dinner
they served curd which is not very common on the other routes. In the days
when food was served in thalis, curd was served on pretty much all the
routes I traveled. That is not the case anymore.
Once while traveling to Bhavnagar from Ahemdabad, I noitced an interesting
dinner arrangement. The train stopped at some station for about 10 min.
(and it was dinner time). A local family had brought about 7-8 thalis of
Gujarati food and were offering it as dinner for 8-10 Rs. They didn't have
any food-stall/restaurant on the station. The people had to stand and eat.
It seemed that this family used to bring food everyday and sell it at the
station. Looked like a good deal to me - homemade hot food !
Sugarpine Railroad - I don't know if anyone has ever posted about this
tourist railroad. I was in California in May and went to Yosemite with
a friend. About 7-8 miles before entering Yosemite village (valley),
is this Sugarpine railroad. In the early part of the century, it was
used to transport lumber/logs of sugarpine trees. Later, it was converted
to a tourist attraction and a pleasure ride. There is a single steam
engine (1930s model) that hauls 3 cars (two of which are open-air, roofless
with seats made out of wooden planks). The ride is in the mountains
and takes about an hour. Half-way thru' the ride is a halt where the
engine needs water re-filling ! The ride is scenic, though I wouldn't
call it very pretty. The tracks are mostly surrounded by the sugarpine
trees and one can't see far away. And then there is a guy with a
speaker who keeps describing the history of the railroad operation in that
There is sort of loco-shed where all the intricate machine parts of the
engine are kept. A set of pistons were kept. The driver of the train
seemed to have kept the engine alive, looked like he had really hacked
down that piece of machinery. The ride costs about $ 7.50 .
Get-together - I happen to be in NJ working at Holmdel this summer.
The coming weekend happens to be my last one of the summer here.
I would very much like to join, but may not be able to do so in case
I have to wind up my project and need to work over the weekend. If I
come down, i shall bring the pictures of Sugarpine railroad and that
ancient steam engine.
From: SIVA. HARI <email@example.com
Date: 30 Jul 1991 14:38:00 -0500
The Editorial of the Indian Express (July 17 1991), has
called the Rly budget kinder than expected, in the
light of the severe economic crunch which has hit the
Also, Electrification of major routes is proceeding at
a very furious pace, as diesel is becoming more and
more precious. The railways are trying their best to
bring down operating costs which is increasing day by day.
Sigh, the diesel engines will soon become a relic of the
The compiterisation of reservations at 8 more stations have
been included for the 91-92 budget. These stations are
Varanasi, Baroda, Jodhpur, Agra, Tiruchirapalli, Coimbatore,
Surat and Nagpur.
On completion of these projects, nearly 70% of the total
reservation workload would be done on computers.
It has also been decided to take up a few pilot projects
for computerisation of Rly receipts relating to coal and
mineral oil, which account for 47% of the freight traffic.
This would help speed and accuracy in the preparation of
Excerpted from the Indian Express
N D S U
From: Ajai Banerji <firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Jeevan Rekha
Date: 30 Jul 1991 12:47:00 -0500
Thanks to Siva for the information on this new`
scheme. It is interesting to see that the initial
stabling will be at Khalari and Chainpur. The former
is between Daltonganj and Barkakana, and the latter
between Barkakana and Gomoh. This is one of the
most obscure and undeveloped parts of Bihar- I
travelled that way once when I went for a summer
job at Indian Explosives at Gomia, which is the next
station to Chainpur.
I am sure that no one else on IRFCA has travelled on
as many obscure routes as I have-perhaps we should have
Here are a few obscure routes I travelled on:
By Amritsar-Tata express from Kanpur to Gomia via
By Madras-Bokaro express from Madras to Raurkela
Numerous slow trains from Chandigarh to Ambala Cantt
and thence to Saharanpur.
The Cochin-Tiruchi Express
Numerous slow trains on the Shoranur-Cochin section;
I used to commute between Karukutty and Ernakulam Town
for a few years.
The Mewar passenger between Udaipur and Ahmedabad.
>From Ahmedabad to Bombay by the Gujarat Queen upto
Valsad and thence by the notorious Valsad Express-
India's only express which stopped at all stations.
The most agonizing journey was probably on the
Jammu-Madras express from Jhansi to Madras; though
a trip on the luggage van of the Tinsukia Mail
from Mughalsarai to Kanpur comes close.
Finally, an "international train" from Kulaura
in East Pakistan to Karimganj-though I was too
young to remember much.
Has anyone else travelled on similar obscure routes
From: vijayb <email@example.com
Subject: Obscure routes
Date: 31 Jul 1991 10:58:00 -0500
Thanks for the interesting info., Siva. Good to know that *my* Varanasi
has been included in the computerization of reservations.
Manish, you might be aware that Aravind, too, works at Holmdel and stays close
by. You could even drop by for a few hours.
Here is my contribution to the list of obscure routes and "abnormal journeys".
-Tatangar to Varansi by the now-extinct Tata-Varanasi Janata exp. This uses the
Gomhoria-Kandra chord and travels via Chandil-Adra-Burnpur-Asansol crossing the
Damodar on its way. Tata-Asansol is completely electrified and Kandra-Burnpur
is a double line stretch. The Asansol to Varanasi portion of the journey was
a nightmare (well, actually a "day"mare) esp. since it passes thru' Bihar in
the daytime. Moreover, the train was delayed by more than 4 hrs. and our
compartment had no lights.
-Chittaranjan to Tatanagar by the South Bihar exp. It also employs the Asansol-
Adra-Tata route. A few days before this journey, I had been to CLW and had my
first ride on a WAM-4, a short one, though.
-Bangalore to Secunderabad by the Venkatadri Exp. This was way back in Dec. 1981
when Bangalore to Guntakal was still MG. At Dharmavaram, our train was coupled
with another set of coaches from Tirupati, and the result was a massive 16 coach
train hauled by a lone YDM-4.
-Tiruchi-Dindigul-Palani by passenger trains. We had to detrain + board at
Dindigul in the late hours of the night. Again, an MG route.
-Karaikovilpathu-Peralam by the only passenger train (MG) in that section.
This used to have just three coaches. This was in '72 when my uncle was
stationed at Karaikal (about 250 km. south of Madras).
-Peralam to Mayiladuturai by the Tirutturaipundi passenger (MG).
-Varanasi-Allahabad (Up. and Dn.) by various trains on the MG route such as the
Allahabad-Guwahati exp. (now restricted till Varanasi), Intercity exp., and
some passenger trains. The only Jn. in this route is Madhosingh. This
route has a long bridge across the Ganga from where one can spot the sangam
-Mysore to Bangalore by an overnight passenger train. It probably stopped at
-Mughal Sarai to Allahabad by the Tinsukia Mail. An unreserved journey where
the TT's chair was the savior.
-Saharanpur to Jammu Tawi by the Jammu Tawi - Sealdah exp. Again, an unreserved
journery and, probably, the most crowded compartment I have ever traveled by.
One could barely see the floor. Fortunately, I had to squat only till Ambala
Cant before I got a berth.
Did I come close, Ajai?
From: HARSHAVARDHAN <B645ZBH@UTARLG.EMAIL
Subject: Two more wierd routes.
Date: 31 Jul 1991 10:23:00 -0500
Since there is a lot of talk about obscure rotes, here's a couple more.
I have travelled on part of the stretches of these trains.
1. Bombay-Pune-Manmad Passenger.
This leaves Bombay V.T. around 10.00 a.m. and reaches Pune around 4:30
p.m. It stops at small stations along the Bombay-Pune route, giving
preference to trains such as the Dadar-Madras Express. I travelled on this
train upto Pune as I was going to a camping trip in school.
2. Bombay-KanyaKumari Jayanti-Janta Express.
This leaves V.T. around 11:30 p.m. and goes almost till Madras and then
goes on the Madras-Trivandrum-Kanyakumari line. It is a very long and
tiring route. I had a chance to go on this route from Gutti to Trivandrum.
From: vijayb <firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: 31 Jul 1991 13:43:00 -0500
As far as I know, the following kinds of mobile catering units exist on our
1. Dining Car: Present on short distance day trains. A mobile restaurant of
sorts, with meals available on specific times. Also attached
to some long-distance trains, between certain stns., during dinner time.
A dining car used to be attached to the Bombay - Howrah Mail (via Nagpur)
between Bombay V.T. and Igatpuri, and to the Dakshin exp. between Jhansi and
Bina, but this is longer the case.
2. Buffet Car: Present on short/medium distance day trains. Passengers can
obtain prepared meals from the car. There might be seating arrangements, too.
3. Pantry Car: The most common type of mobile unit present on medium/long
distance trains, where prepared food can be stored and kept warm for a few hrs.
Passengers are not allowed to stay in pantry cars. A variation of this is
the kitchen car which has cooking facilities as well.
I am also aware of the presence of a snack bar on certain trains such as
the Sealdah-Lalgola Bhagirathi exp.
The serving of lunch/dinner in disposable aluminium casseroles is not
followed on all trains; at least, that's what is indicated on certain
time-tables. Tray serving is also practised.
From: Dheeraj Sanghi <>
Subject: Indian Railways: One Hundred Years, 1853-1953
Date: 31 Jul 1991 15:26:00 -0500
Long ago, I read the book, "Indian Railways: One Hundred Years,
1853-1953" by J N Sahani and published by Ministry of Railways. I had
posted some quotes from that book in Sep/Oct 1989. In view of the coming
First Annual Meeting of India Railway Fan Club of America, I thought
it would be interesting to know some early history of IR. Here I
reproduce some quotes from the book.
"The Bengal Hurkuru of 23rd August 1854, gives some amusing `first
impressions of railway travel' of some of its readers. `Roop Chand
Ghose, a flourishing dealer in piece-goods and purfumery,' when sat
down at the end of the journey after he had arrived at Hooghly, felt
strongly suspicios and went down the street asking several people as to
the name of the place he had reached. It took a long time before the
conviction gained upon him that verily he had come to Hooghly.' Pandit
Radhalunkur Banerjee, `after duly consulting the stars,' undertook his
trip up to Hooghly `but declined to undertake the return journey,'
because said he, `too much travelling on the car of fire was calculated
to shorten life. Seeing that it annihilates time and space and curtails
the length of every other journey, it must shorten the journey of human
life.' There was then the case of one Mr. Jones who had made trips to
Hooghly and back three successive days. `Having acquired a notion of
speed, such as he never knew before, he can no longer reconcile himself
to the jog trot of his buggy horse, and accordingly does nothing but
whip the poor brute in the vain hope of making it go at something like
"British experts apprehended that a large number of classes will have
to be provided because of the prevailing religious caste and racial
Did you know that Chittaranjan Locomotives produced only 3 engines
in its first year of operation, 1950 and that electrification of routes
was stopped in 1936, and wasn't undertaken at least until 1953.
The first electric train ran between VT and Kurla in 1925, a distance
of 9.5 miles. (Till 1953, India did not use SI units, so the book give
figures in miles only.) In 1926, Thana and Mahim were connected. In
1929, electrification was complete up to Kalyan. In 1928, Borivili in
the north was connected. In 1929, Kalyan - Igatpuri section was
commissioned. In 1930, Kalyan - Poona tracks were opened to electric
trains. In 1931, metre gauge track between Madras Beach and Tambaram
was electrified. After that the only electrification project undertaken
was Borivili - Virar, finished in 1936.
The earlier reason for electrification was primarily steep grade and
hence steam engines were incapable. e.g. in case of Bombay (where
almost all the electrification was done), Municipality had developed a
scheme to house industrial workers along what is now known as Harbour
Branch. Since it was realized by that time that suburban trains would
be the most practical way of transporting people locally [Why they
didn't do the same thing for Delhi then?] there was a need to connect
that area by trains. The only practicable manner in which this
connection could be effected was by taking the track on a series of
masonary arches and steel viaducts for a distance long enough to enable
it to cross the Wadi Bunder goods yard and the quadruple track of the
main line entering the Bombay Terminus. This necessitated a short
stretch of gradient of 1 in 34 on a heavy curve where the Harbour
Branch line descended to the level of the main line. It was felt that
an intensive suburban service could not obviously be operated by steam
traction on such a gradient. This was one of the important reasons
which determined the decision to electrify the entire suburban track up
The reason for electrification upto Igatpuri and Poona was to be able
to move traffic faster over Ghat inclines. e.g. The steam engines could
haul only half the goods train over the Ghat, which have a maximum
gradient of 1 in 37. So the goods train were divided into 2 and joined
again later. Also passenger traffic to and from Poona was increasing,
and electrification helped removed the bootleneck of the Ghats. Now
Deccan Queen could make the journey from Bombay to Poona in 3 hours.
The reason for electrification of Bombay-Virar and Madras-Tambaram was
to provide fast suburban traffic.
All these electric routes were served by 1500 Volts DC power.
Did you know that among the four metropolitan cities, the two to be
connected first were Delhi and Calcutta in 1866. The first train
between the two cities were run in 1864, but at that time the bridge
at Allahabad wasn't complete and coaches crossed the river on big
boats. The bridge finished in 1865. The train at that time used to
stop before Jamuna in Delhi. The Jamuna bridge in Delhi was finished
in 1866, and that is when the train started coming to what is now
known as Delhi Junction.
The first train in India was NOT in 1853, but in 1852. The first train
went from Bombay to Thana on 18th Nov. 1852. It covered the 21 mile
distance in 45 minutes. The train was formally inaugrated on 16th Apr.
1853. The day was observed as a public holiday.
The first train could very well be in the East. 38 miles of track were
ready by 1853, but two mishaps prevented the running of the first train.
The ship bringing the first railway carriages, HMS Goodwin sank at
Sandheads. The ship bringing the first locomotive was misdirected to
Australia. There was also some boundary problem with France. (Chander-
nagore was under French control, and tracks were found to be encroaching
its boundary. The locomotive finally reached India in 1854. The coaches
were constructed in India, and the first trial trip was done from
Howrah to Pundooah on 28th June 1854. On 15th Aug, Howrah to Hooghly
section was formally inaugrated.
The railroads were started by British capitalists in the beginning.
In fact, State assumed the administration only in 1925. The terms that
were offered to them were: Free land, no taxes, company's responsibility
for doing surveys and making plans, govt. has to approve all plans, all
lines were to constructed according to one specification, worked on
one system, company has to maintain all works in perfect repair, and
after a certain timeframe (about 20 years) the Govt would have right
to become the proprietors of the railroads. The Govt ensured a minimum
return of 5 percent. The return of 5 percent was more than the interest
rate at that time, and anybody who had any money bought shares in the
railroad compaanies. As a result, the companies were flush with funds
and were very extravagant. In fact, the cost of laying tracks in India
at that time was more than twice the cost in Canada, which is surprising
even though in India, the terrain was uneven, and presented many
As of 1953, there were seven railway platforms of length more than
2000 feet. Five of them were in India. Sonepur - 2415, Kharagpur - 2350,
Lucknow - 2250, Bezwada - 2100, Jhansi - 2025. The other two were
Bulawayo (Zimvabve, then Rhodesia) - 2302, Manchester (England) - 2194.
In fact, the 22 longest platforms in the world are all in India or
England except 3 (in Zimbabve, Burma and Pakistan) which were also
constructed by British. (As of 1953.)
Does anyone know of current position in this regard.
Here is an interesting quote from the book:
"In the early stages it was difficult to convince people that
a fast moving railway train would continue on its tracks and was not
likely to run off the rails and become a danger to the life and property
of those living in the neighbourhood of the railway line. To obviate
some of the dangers, various alternative inventions were tried. In
England, an inventor introduced what was then known as the Atmospheric
System. This was based on the general principle that trains should be
propelled forward by means of atmospheric pressure acting on a piston
working in a tube from which the air had been pumped by stationary
engines situated at intervals along the line of route. The system was
not a passing fancy. It was actually tried at many places, and even an
act of Parliament was passed authorising the construction of an
Atmospheric Railway from Croydon to Epsom."
Gauges: It was in 1870 that meter gauge was allowed by the British Govt.
to speed up laying down of tracks. (It saves money and therefore more
miles could be laid for the same money. By now, the capitalists had
invested enough in railroads, and there was shortage of money for fresh
investments.) In 1953, India had 16000 miles (25600 KM) of broad gauge,
15000 miles (24000 KM) of meter gauge and 3000 miles (4800 KM) of narrow
Rails: The standard of rails is expressed in terms of weight in pounds
per yard. The broad gauge tracks were laid with 90 lb standard, while
the meter gauge tracks were laid with 50-60 lb standard. [I think the
Delhi-Kanpur and Delhi-Jhansi tracks are now 120 lb standard.] The length
of rails varies from 30 ft in branch lines to 42 ft for main lines.
In the beginning, the centre to centre distance in case of two parallel
tracks on the Western Ghats, was 12 feet. In 1940s, Indian railways decided
to use modern wider rolling stock. That caused problem of shifting the
tracks. The centre to centre distance was established at 15 ft and 6
inches. The book gives an interesting description of the work involved,
and the novel schemes of widening tunnels when the traffic on one track
is moving normally.
The first train with double decker coaches was introduced in 1862. (I
always thought that Singarh (sp?) Exp. running between Bombay and
Pune was the first such train.) In 1874, Fourth class of service was
introduced which has no benches. The passengers were supposed to sit
on the floor, and there wasno protection from rain, sun etc. After a
public agitation, benches were restored, it started being called 3rd
class, and the original 3rd class was renamed as Intermediate class.
Until 1885, all coaches were made of wood. Then they started making
all-steel underframe, but the body continued to be of wood. All steel
coaches were first introduced on Bombay suburban service in 1922. It
was only in 1949 that IR adopted all-steel coaches as its standard for
all future coaches. Did you know that HAL Bangalore used to (still
does ???) make coaches? By the way, all-steel coaches are also known
as `integral design' and hence the name `Integral Coach Factory' to the
coach building factory of IR. In 1949, the length of broad gauge
coaches was increased from 68 feet to 70 feet, and width from 10 feet
to 11' 8" (which was later reduced to 10' 8"). First AC coach was
introduced in 1936. Before that, upper class coaches were kept cool in
summer by khas-khas in mattings which were kept moist. Early coaches
used to open on the outside. Inward opening doors were first
introduced in 1909. Four-wheeler coaches were replaced by bogie coaches
in 1903. Vacuum break was introduced in 1879. In earlier trains in other
countries, passengers had to get their own candles for light. In India,
oil lamps were provided from the very beginning. In 1870s gas lamps
became common. The first electric lights were introduced in 1902 by
Jodhpur Railways. By the end of the decade, it became standard on all
railways. Latrines in the third class coaches were first introduced in
Did you know that TELCO, Jamshedpur also made (still makes??) railway
engines? The first broad gauge locomotive was manufactured in India in
1880 in the East Indian Railway workshop, while the first meter gauge
locomotive was built in 1896 at Ajmer.
In 1952, "One among every 400 Indians is a `Railway Man.' One in
every 100 families looks to the railways for support.
The most impressive success story of Indian Railways seems to be the
construction of Assam Rail Link. The lines in Assam were cut off from
the rest of the country after partition. The construction of a railway
link had to be undertaken immediately to provide a direct rail route
to Assam over Indian territory.
"The Assam Rail Link covers a distance of 143 miles. The route
passes through thick malarial jungles which had to be cleared before
surveys could be made, formation prepared, bridges built, track laid,
and ancilliary services provided for train running. Between Nov. 1948
and April 1949, TWO HUNDRED MILLION cubic feet of earth had to be moved
for embankments and other earthwork to bring about an appropriate
alignment. Between the two ends, the alluvial plains of East Bihar and
West Assam, lay the foothills of mighty Himalayas studded with boulders
and shingle. The alignment interspersed with deep cuts and high fills
cut across the drainage of the country and the problem lay in bridging
368 channels varying in size of bridge opening from 3 feet to 1425
feet, spread over a distance of 250 miles. This had to be accomplished
within one working season of five and a half months, in an area where
rainfall usually exceeds 250 inches per year.
Including the Tista, Torsa and Sankosh, there are 22 rivers
which required deep well foundations for constructing bridges. For
other flood openings and hill streams, steel girder bridges on masonry
abutments and piers were constructed. Heavy boulders up to six feet in
diameter, and buried tree trunks were the usual obstacles encountered
in well sinking. In this area the training of rivers on guide bund
principle had been rejected, as engineers had considered that the steep
beds of rivers, high velocities of flood waters and presence of heavy
flotsam rendered such methods unsuitable. The practice adopted instead
was to bridge every river or stream, from bank to bank, and then
protect the ends by spurs, etc, from year to year as found necessary.
The adoption of bank-to-bank bridging on this project was, however,
considered inordinately expensive and the training of rivers by guide
bunds with certain modifications was adopted.
Steel girders of Indian Railway Standard type and Army Standard
Truss type were used for spans of bridges. In three bridges, however,
pre-stressed concrete girders of 60 feet and 40 feet spans were cast
in situ [italics]. These were cast and employed for the first time
under railway loading in India and perhaps in the world, and this has
been considered a remarkable and unique achievement in bridge building.
In the case of one road under-bridge, a two-hinged rigid concrete frame
of 44 feet span and 48 degree skew was built.
In all one span of 250 feet, 29 spans of 150 feet, 4 spans of
100 feet, 14 spans of 80 feet, 18 spans of 60 feet, 20 spans of 40 feet
and 100 spans of 30 feet, and under were erected. Roofed area provided
both for service buildings and residential accomodation is 550,000
square feet. The entire project was completed at a cost of Rs.
8,89,71,204 being an average of Rs. 6,22,176 per mile."
All that work in FIVE AND A HALF MONTHS only.
Railway Zones were created by regrouping the railway systems in 1951.
The first Zone to be created was Southern Railway on 14th April 1951.
Central and Western Railways were created on 5th Nov. 1951. On 14th
April 1952, Northern, North Eastern, and Eastern Railways were
inaugrated. In the beginning there were only 6 zones. In all these
times of hectic activity, Lal Bahadur Shastri was the Railway Minister
From: C. S. Sudarshana Bhat <B536HIND@UTARLVM1.EMAIL
Date: 31 Jul 1991 19:00:00 -0500
Funny that a train derailment in the USA should occupy a backseat to
Russian problems! Could someone post details of the mishap which occurred
when an Amtrak train from Miami derailed and rammed into a stationery
From: THS1 <THS1@PSUVM.EMAIL
Subject: Urban Railway Projects
Date: 02 Aug 1991 12:54:00 -0500
I would like to know about any urban passenger railway projects
under construction/consideration (except Calcutta Metro).
What is the status of Bombay's
Sixth and Seventh corridors? Is an underground/elevated/surface
system sanctioned for Delhi? I think someone mentioned about
an urban railway project in Madras. Details?
I wonder why Light Rail systems are not being considered for
urban mass transport. In a city like Delhi, light rail would
seem to be more appropriate. Heavy rail would be more appropriate
for linear cities like Bombay/Calcutta. Urban transportation
improvements should be coupled with strategies to direct further
growth away from the big cities; otherwise any system we construct
would become inadequate in course of time.
Tamisra H. Sanyal
From: Dheeraj Sanghi <>
Subject: Re: Urban Railway Projects
Date: 06 Aug 1991 13:58:00 -0500
>I would like to know about any urban passenger railway projects
>under construction/consideration (except Calcutta Metro).
Why not Calcutta Metro ? I am sure you have hurt many a Bengalis on
the net. :-)
>What is the status of Bombay's Sixth and Seventh corridors?
There was an article about the Bombay suburban service and new projects
related to that in the October 1990 issue of Indian Railways. I had
posted the following information from that magazine a few months ago.
There are two articles on Bombay suburban railway system. A Status
paper on the system was issued by IR in Sep 90 which calls for State
and City participation in building more lines. An ambitious project is
2500 crore Rs. "Seventh Corridor" which will be completely independent
of the current corridors, and will run between Colaba-Mahalaxmi-Bandra-
Kurla and Airport Point via Kalina Univ. This will be partly underground
and partly elevated. The paper suggests that local government should
charge the business establishments who benefit from suburban services to
pay for expansion of services. There are many other new and old
proposals like laying more tracks parallel to existing tracks between
various points on Bandra-Virar section, as well as Kurla and Thane. Many
new lines in New Bombay. Increasing number of rakes to reduce
inter-train time on CR from 5 minutes to 3 minutes.
I can make copies of the article and mail them to you if you send me your
postal address. I unfortunately do not have access to a scanner. If somebody
want to scan the article and post, many people would appreciate that.
>Is an underground/elevated/surface system sanctioned for Delhi?
There was an article in India Today (Oct 15, '89) about this. You should be
able to get access to the article in your library or from some friend who
subscribes to IT. There has been no decision on any system so far, and
Delhi continue to have the worst local transport system among the 4
>I think someone mentioned about an urban railway project in Madras.
I went through the archives in the last 6 months, and didn't find anything
about Madras urban railway project except that they have started EMU
service between Madras Central and Sullurpeta in AP. This was also in
Oct 1990 issue in Indian Railways. This was considered the first
inter-state EMU service in India.
Sorry, can't provide more details right now.
From: aravind <email@example.com
Subject: Madras Metro
Date: 06 Aug 1991 17:16:00 -0500
I mentioned in my summary of the "rail-observations" I made during
my recent trip to Madras that --- work is indeed progressing on the
elevated high-speed Madras Metro rail-link. This link follows the
alignment of the infamous Buckingham canal and the Cooum river (for
a short stretch). It's supposed to run from the Beach station to
Triplicane and thence to Mylapore (first phase) and be eventually
extended to Thiruvanmiyur (second phase?). Those familiar with
Madras will recongnize the above route as a very congested north-south
corridor. The whole project could however take many, many years to
complete, depending on the funding provided by the powers-that-be.
The other corridors served by existing suburban rail services are:
Madras Beach-Chengalpattu (MG electric), Madras Central/Beach-Arakkonam
(BG electric) and Central/Beach-Sulurpeta (BG electric).
I believe that Bangalore is all set to overtake the population of
Madras in the next 10 years, and its transportation system is pretty
bad right now. Suburban rail service is virtually non-existent.
Plans to improve the situation are pretty fuzzy....
From: Ajai Banerji <firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: 06 Aug 1991 12:49:00 -0500
GREAT RAILWAY JOURNEYS OF THE WORLD
Some details on this BBC series which is "required viewing"
for all railway buffs:
It was produced in 1978-80. There are 7 hour-long episodes:
1) Deccan (India) presented by Brian Thompson
2) Zambezi Express (Southern Africa), by Michael Wood
3) The Long Straight (Australia), by Michael Frayn and Dennis Marks
4) Coast to Coast (USA), by Ludovic Kennedy
5) Three Miles High (Peru and Bolivia), by Miles Kington
6) Confessions of a train-spotter (Britain), by Michael Palin
7) Changing Trains (Europe) by Eric Robson
Contrary to popular belief, "Last Train Across Canada" presented
by Murray Sayle is not part of this series.
This series reappears on PBS every now and then. At least some
of the episodes are available on videocassette (India and probably
There is also a book of the same title, published by E.P. Dutton Inc.
of New York in 1982. The text closely follows the screenplay.
From: vijayb <email@example.com
Subject: Rajdhani rakes'n'fares!
Date: 07 Aug 1991 13:29:00 -0500
I recently found out from Dheeraj that the Howrah Rajdhani exp. has
5 AC sleeper and 2 AC First Class coaches in contrast to 2 AC sleepers and
one AC First Class coach on the Bombay Rajdhani. This indicates that
the Howrah Raj. and the Bombay Raj. have 6 and 10 AC Chair Cars, respectively,
since 5 of the 18 coaches are consumed by the 3 generator cars and the 2 pantry
cars. Assuming the Rajdhanis are fully booked during every run, let's compare
the approx. revenues generated per week.
From the Nov. 90 Bradshaw (fares in rupees):-
Route AC I class AC 2-tier AC Chair Car Frequency
N.Delhi-Bombay 1460 820 410 6 days/week
N.Delhi-Howrah 1490 835 420 5 days/week
#berths/seats per coach
~18 46 73
#coaches per rake
N.Delhi-Bombay 1 2 10
N.Delhi-Howrah 2 5 6
Avg. Quota for Intermediate halts
N.Delhi-Bombay 4 3 47
N.Delhi-Howrah 2 3 29
Total revenue (in Rs.)* Total
N.Delhi-Bombay 2,45,280 8,75,670 33,60,360 44,81,310
N.Delhi-Howrah 5,06,600 18,95,450 17,17,800 41,19,850
*excluding the contributions from intermediate halts
I suspect the operating costs for the Bombay Raj. would be higher due to the
higher frequency and the employment of diesel traction for part for the
journey. I wonder how the operating costs and profits are shared among
the three zonal rlys viz., Western, Northern and Eastern Rlys.
From: Dheeraj Sanghi <firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Excerpts from this year's Budget Speech
Date: 07 Aug 1991 14:13:00 -0500
Excerpts from the Budget speech of C K Jaffer Sharief:
No new trains in the budget, but few trains were started earlier from
1st July. They include:
Puri-Tirupati Express (weekly)
Allahabad City-Chhapra Express
Bombay-Ahemdabad Karnavati Express (6 days a week)
Bombay-New Delhi AC Express (Tri-weekly)
Firozepur Cantt-Jammu Tawi Express
Sirpur Kagaznagar-Kazipet passenger
Ajmer-Marwar passenger (on experimental basis for 3 months)
Following trains were extended in the current financial year:
Dadar-Varanasi Express upto Gorakhpur
Bokaro-Madras Express upto Alleppey
Tatanagar-Madras Express upto Alleppey
Virar-Sanjan Passenger upto Bhilad
Kota-Chittaurgarh Passenger upto Neemuch (is this BG train ?)
Dhanbad-Ludhiana Ganga-Sutlej Express upto Firozpur
Veraval-Junagarh Fast Passenger upto Rajkot
Nidadavole-Bhimavaram Passenger upto Rajahmundry.
A significant event in passenger operation passed off on July 1, 1991
without much fanfare. For the first time in their history, Indian Railways
planned a service in quick succession. I refer to the introduction of the
tri-weekly New Delhi-Bombay Central AC Express which follows the Rajdhani
Express at an interval of 45 minutes from both ends and takes about the same
time to cover the journey. This is in keeping with the concept of running
trains to popular schedule. If this experiment is successful, Railways may
consider extending the concept to other routes over a period of time, for it
facilitates the most economical and optimal use of capacity. It will,
however, call for augmenting terminal facilities.
Backlog of coaches need to be replaced = 5500
Total number of coaches with IR = 28000
Number of coaches damaged or destroyed in riots last year = 500
Shortage of coaches = 1500
New coaches in the coming year = 2100
Computer Reservations: new cities to be included are:
Varanasi (Vijay must be immensely pleased), Vadodra, Jodhpur, Agra,
Tiruchchirappalli, Coimbatore, Surat, Nagpur.
Pilot project for computerisation of Railway receipts related to coal and
mineral oil which account for 47 per cent of total freight traffic.
Track renewals. 2300 KM of track fall due for renewal every year. At the
beginning of 7th plan the arrear was 19,500 KM. At the end of 7th plan, the
arrear has been reduced to 12,000 KM. By the end of 8th plan the arrear on
trunk routes will be reduced to 0, but there will remain some arrear in
other routes. The target for renewal in current year is 3325 KM.
(On 19th July, Hindu had an editorial criticizing strongly the slow progress
in eliminating the arrear in track renewals. If tracks are not renewed, they
become less safe, and speed restrictions have to be imposed on those
sections, slowing down movements of goods and passenger traffic.
It also causes fuel wastage, it was not clear how?)
The following new lines and sections are proposed to be opened in 1991-92.
Talcher-Angul and Maneswar-Sambalpur sections of Talcher-Sambalpur project
Damanjodi-Lakshmipur and Singapuram Road-Kevatigude sections of
Rampur-Chauraha section of Rampur-New Haldwani project
Jammu-Bajalta section of Jammu-Udhampur project
Sanichara-Birlanagar and Gwalior-Panihar sections of Guna-Etawah project
Challakere-Phallak section of Chitradurg-Rayadurg project
All these new lines total to 314 KM.
Gauge conversions to be completed in 1991-92 financial year:
Total KM of gauge conversion 185 KM.
Every effort will be made to complete the Mysore-Bangalore gauge conversion
project also in 1991-92.
Doubling of 211 KM was commissioned in 1990-91. In 1991-92, another 269 KM
of doubling will be commissioned.
No new line or gauge conversion project has been included in the budget.
Konkan Railway Corporation: last year contribution of IR to equity was 71
crore. This year it will be 51 crore.
Metropolitan Transport projects: work on the remaining stretch of 6.5 KM
between Esplanade and Belgachia of the Metro Railway System of Calcutta will
commence soon. Mankhurd-Belapur line in Bombay is heading towards
completion. (There seems to be problem of encroachment, and IR is seeking
State Govt help on that.) The Madras Beach-Luz Rapid Transit System is
maintaining steady progress.
Railway Electrification: Target for this year is completion of 675 route KM.
With electrification of Bhusawal-Itarsi and Durg-Nagpur sections, the
important trunk route of Delhi-Bombay via Central Railway and Howrah-Bombay
via Nagpur will be fully electrified. Delhi-Madras has already been
electrified. Other sections to be completed this year:
The new electrification projects will start (total 812 route KM) this year:
Electrification of Sitarampur-Jhajha section will restart.
Total electrified tracks at the end of 1990-91 year: 10,083 route KM
Target for 8th plan (1st April 1992 to 31st Mar 1997) is 3000 route KM.
The railways are for the first time going in for 2 x 25 kv system of
electrification on the Bina-Katni-Annupur-Bishrampur/Chirimiri section. This
has the advantage of 50 kv transmission efficiency and at the same time
permits the use of standard 25 kv AC Electric locos.
CLW produced 110 electric locos and 44 deisel locos. (105/42 in 1989-90)
DLW produced 147 deisel locos. (140 in 1989-90)
ICF produced 1013 coaches. (925 in 1989-90)
RCF produced 600 coaches. (175 in 1989-90, just recently started)
Strategic Planning: proposal to privatise catering and conservancy services,
including cleanliness at certain locations.
With better usage of deisel and electric locos, the phasing out of steam
locos has been accelerated. (three cheers to CKJS.)
I will post the information on new fare hikes later if the time permits.
From: Dheeraj Sanghi <email@example.com
Subject: Questions about the Budget Speech
Date: 07 Aug 1991 14:14:00 -0500
I have lots of questions about the budget speech.
Firstly, what is involved in Track renewals. Are new rails laid
replacing the old ones. Are sleepers also changed? Can the old
rails be reused after some treatment?
Secondly, why is it more efficient to transmit 2 x 25 kv than a single
line of 25 kv.
Thirdly, if 2300 KM of track becomes due for renewal every year, and we have
62000 KM of track, then the life-span of track is 27 years. Is that same for
all kinds of tracks, MG, BG, NG, 50 lb rails, 60 lb rails, trunk route,
branch line etc. How does track life vary with various parameters.
If ICF produces about 1000 coaches (that is its capacity) and RCF reaches
its capacity of 1000 coaches in this year (the budget speech did not talk
about the targets for this year) then we have a total of 2000 coaches. How
can IR get 2100 coaches, while ICF and RCF have some export commitments too.
Am I missing something? Is there a third coach factory that I don't know
off? Also in this year, the production was 1013+600 and intake was 2000
coaches (and we do export some coaches, do we import them too).
From: jis <firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Rajdhani rakes'n'fares!
Date: 07 Aug 1991 14:31:00 -0500
> Total revenue (in Rs.)* Total
> N.Delhi-Bombay 2,45,280 8,75,670 33,60,360 44,81,310
> N.Delhi-Howrah 5,06,600 18,95,450 17,17,800 41,19,850
> *excluding the contributions from intermediate halts
The per run revenues work out to:
If one assumes that the short term avoidable cost of running a train
one time is about the same for both Rajdhani's then the Howrah
Rajdhani generates more net per run. Actually, since part of the cost of
running the trains is providing food, and more people need to be fed
on the Bombay Rajdhani, the nets probably work out to be even more
in favor of the Howrah Rajdhani on a per run basis.
> I suspect the operating costs for the Bombay Raj. would be higher due to the
> higher frequency and the employment of diesel traction for part for the
> journey. I wonder how the operating costs and profits are shared among
> the three zonal rlys viz., Western, Northern and Eastern Rlys.
I don't know how it is done for either of the two trains. The Howrah
Rajdhani is operated with a locomotive homed in Ghaziabad(?) and is
staffed on the hotel services side by Eastern Railway. Of course the
operating staff are supplied by whatever railway the train is on at
the moment. I do not know how this combination of providers allocate
costs among themselves.
Just to provide some perspective, here is how it is done in the USA:
In the past things used to be almost as complicated as above when
Amtrak trains were operated by freight railroads, but they have been
considerably simplified since. At present Amtrak just pays a fee for
the use of freight railroad's tracks, and any facilities that the
freight railroad has to maintain over and above those needed for
freight operations. There is an on-time incentive program which allows
freight railroads to earn a bonus for running Amtrak trains on time.
All train crew - operational as well as hotel - are Amtrak employees,
hence the freight railroads are not involved in that. They constitute
direct expense for Amtrak.
Short term avoidable cost (STAC) for operating a train in this case
includes cost of employees(on board) + cost of fuel + cost of track
fee + cost of consumables (i.e. food) + cost of services (i.e. laundry
etc.). Revenue includes passenger revenue + mail revenue + package
express revenue. Notice that depriciation of equipment is not part of
this cost. At present Amtrak covers ~80% - 120% of short term
avoidable cost of operating its trains, depending on which train we
are talking about. It is not allowed to introduce a new train unless
it can be demonstrated that it will cover 80% of its STAC either
through revenues or through 403b state funding. Systemwide Amtrak
manages to cover ~79% of its operating expenses, which includes
depriciation and taxes etc. + ground and HQ employees.
I wonder if we could dig out similar figures for IR trains. It would
be kind of interesting to see. I suspect IR would be reluctant to give
out such figures because of possible political ramifications.