Anuradha Goyal: At this time we’re going to go on a journey of Indian Railways. It’s truly the journey of Indian trains which allow a variety of our journeys. We’ve with us Shri R. Ananth Ji, who’s an Indian Railways account companies officer. I do know him by means of his Twitter deal with on which he shares pretty pictures of Indian railways. Together with tidbits and details about the heritage and historical past of it. So, I requested him to return on Detours and share it with our listeners. So, Ananth Ji Welcome to the Detours.

Shree R. Ananth: Yeah, thanks very a lot for having me on this podcast.

Oldest Railway Traces in India

Anuradha: Ananth Ji, let’s begin with the historical past of Indian railways. At this time we have now an enormous community however this community got here up in bits and items, enabled by a variety of kings and patriots. So, inform us that are the oldest railway strains in India?

Ananth: The oldest railway line was the road from the nice Indian Peninsular railway, it was the primary firm to start out constructing the railway line. It was first constructed from Bori Bunder to Thane the gap was about 32 km, its companies began on April 16, 1853. The second railway line was from East India – Howrah to Hugli. So, that got here on August 15, 1854, 4 months after the primary railway line got here. East India unfold sooner as a result of it was a plain panorama, railway strains have been constructed alongside the rivers in order that they don’t should cross the river. However within the West, they needed to cross the ghats and that’s why the explanation Indian Peninsula railway strains reached Pune in 1860.

East India railway may have began earlier however two incidents happened, one of many ships which have been carrying the locomotives was misdirected to Australia. One other ship that was carrying the coaches sunk close to Sandheads, a spot close to Calcutta Port. It then has to get redirected to India which took fairly a couple of months and coaches needed to regionally assembled. That’s why it took a couple of yr to get the railway strains began from Howrah.

Anuradha: In any other case, initially, we’d have had the primary railway line in Calcutta.

Shree R. Ananth: Possibly if the hole was not a lot however just a few weeks or days aside each the railways may have commenced the operation. They have been in competitors as they have been each completely different railways, eager to be the primary railway line in India.

https://anchor.fm/inditales/embed/episodes/E19-Historical past-of-Indian-Railways-with-Ananth-Rupanagudi-emfl2r/a-a3rgtj6

First Constructed Station of Indian Railways

Anuradha: So, after these two which have been the opposite essential railway strains established?

Ananth: First established in Madras, from Royapuram to Walajah street it got here up in 1856 and lined a distance of about 70-80km. The distinctive factor about this railway line is that the station constructing was constructed earlier than the railway operations commenced from Royapuram. The Royapuram station is the oldest station within the Indian subcontinent and can also be one of many oldest in Asia.

The primary everlasting station got here in Royapuram, in contrast to in Boribander and Howrah which have been simply non permanent sheds. The outdated station constructing nonetheless stands and it’s in pretty good condition after steps have been taken to preserve it. Whereas the CST got here up in 1888 and the Howrah station got here up on the finish of the 19th century, there have been larger stations like Howrah station which is greater than CST. CST got here up as an administrative workplace, the headquarters of the Nice Indian Peninsular railway was there and the station was simply an extension of the constructing.

Lush inexperienced station alongside the meter-gauge railway line in Malnad, Karnataka

Railway Enlargement of India

Anuradha: After we had Calcutta, Madras, and Mumbai which have been basically the three cities the place the British had a variety of concentrate on. How did it begin for the remainder of India?

Ananth: From then the development began in all places, the East Indian Railway expanded quickly. The Punjab-Sindh railway which was round Lahore got here within the late 1850s. The road from Calcutta was prolonged as much as Delhi in 1866, there are the three oldest railway bridges that prepare crosses over rivers. First is close to Arrah on the Son river, on the Yamuna at Prayagraj, and in Delhi. These are the main bridges in between these two locations as they’re half a kilometer lengthy.

Anuradha: This leads me to the query that a variety of princely states have been additionally funding railways. So, are you able to inform me a bit about them?

Princely States Funding Railways

Ananth: The primary princely state which took the initiative was the Gaikwads of Vadodara. They construct the road as a result of in 1861 the American civil warfare began and it disrupted the availability of cotton from the USA to Britain. Baroda area was wealthy in cotton, in order that they needed to get income by exporting cotton to England. However that they had no quick method of exporting the cotton to the ports that’s why they needed to construct the railway line. They selected a narrow-gauge line as a broad gauge would have been costly and in addition as a result of the transported product was cotton which could be very light-weight and it might probably take any form. So, it didn’t put any strain on tracks and so they used a narrow-gauge line to move to Surat and from there to England.

Folks can go to Churchgate station in Mumbai the place there’s a western railway heritage gallery. There’s an attention-grabbing {photograph} of bulls pulling two wagons carrying cotton on a railway observe. It meant that Gaikwad was in a rush to get this rail service in fee as a result of time was working out, because it was already 1863. The locomotives which have been ordered from England have been but to reach as a result of the gauge and the specs have been completely different. So, there was a delay with manufacturing in England, and the Gaikwads designed their very own wagons. They devised the wolves to hold the wagons and it was known as ‘wolf motives.’

Enterprise Wants Transportation

Anuradha: It’s a really basic case of a ‘Jugaad’ invention when the enterprise wants a mode of transportation or when prospects are in want of the product. I bear in mind visiting the railway museum in Dabhoi, Gujarat the place there’s documentation of this line.

Ananth: The Enterprise sense of Gujaratis could be very sturdy. After that, Nizam began their companies within the 1870s and Mysore Maharaja began within the Eighteen Eighties.

Anuradha: I bear in mind the Hyderabad to Ajmer line being the longest-running prepare for a very long time.

Ananth: Sure, Nizam of Hyderabad laid the meter gauge. The road of Nizam went as much as Khandwa in Madhya Pradesh from Hyderabad after which linked to the Holcus railway line which took it by means of Mau close to Indore. From there it went as much as Mahoba and joined the meter gauge line in Ajmer, Rajasthan. So, anybody eager to go on a pilgrimage from Hyderabad used to take this meter gauge prepare for Ajmer.

Railway Gauge

Anuradha: What I’m additionally gathering is that when these strains have been commissioned by completely different individuals, they selected their very own gauge like slim, meter gauge, and so on. That’s why you now should work on synchronizing this entire community on a single gauge.

Ananth: Sure, you recognize in the end as we developed, our communication wants improve, our transport, leisure, and tourism want improve. The completely different sorts of gauges have been there as an obstacle to clean transport of not simply the individuals however even the products and companies. The freight is the bread and butter of Indian railways. 63-64% of income comes from freight and 30% from passengers. To switch from broad to meter gauge, freight needed to be unloaded and reloaded to meter gauge wagons. So, all this stuff improve the prices of transportation.

Nostalgic Recollections

Anuradha: I bear in mind as a pupil I used to journey loads from Chandigarh to Aurangabad the place my father was posted. I needed to change trains at Manmad and anticipate lengthy hours due to this gauge distinction.

Ananth: Sure, I bear in mind when my father was posted in Assam close to Dimapur, we needed to come to the south and needed to change over at Bugnegaon. There have been three gauges in operations broad, slim, and meter gauge. Similar to the slim gauge museum of Gaikwads in Dabhoi, Vadodara. There’s one other in Nagpur as a result of the Nagpur-Chhattisgarh railway was additionally the narrow-gauge railway that got here within the 1870s.

Within the 1860s & 70s, there was a famine in central India which induced lack of lives and livelihoods. So, due to that first province of the central authorities fashioned a railway firm to hurry up the transportation of grains, and the provincial authorities. That they had so many restrictions by way of funds that they opted for a slim gauge.

Price of Railway Gauge

Anuradha: So, is that this slim gauge decrease in prices?

Ananth: Sure, it’s nearly 1/3rd, the land you require and different elements. It prices loads much less and is quicker to construct. It additionally relies upon upon how many individuals you need to transport. Suppose in case you don’t have a exact forecast of the passengers to move you then preserve the narrow-gauge line.

There was an enormous narrow-gauge line from Nagpur to Jabalpur, by way of Chhindwara, Sheoni that used to fulfill at Nayanpur. These days you may drive from Nagpur and attain Jabalpur in 4 hours. However from a slim gauge, it was an in a single day journey.

Starting of Hill Railways

Anuradha: Then we have now these stunning Himalayan and hill railways in Darjeeling, Kalka-Shimla, and Nilgiri hills. They’re UNESCO world heritage websites, so are you able to discuss it a bit?

Ananth: The primary line which got here up was within the Darjeeling, it got here within the Eighteen Eighties. The well-known approach which they used to recover from the massive gradient from the Darjeeling hill railway was the usage of a Z-curve. It’s a very distinctive innovation to barter the gradient. As a substitute of taking the loops, they might go on to reverse-curve after which go up.

Anuradha: Even the Ghoom loop itself is an innovation.

Ghoom or Batasia Loop Innovation

Ananth: Ghoom loop or Batasia loop is an innovation as a result of they needed to form of reverse at that place. Earlier it was a market however now it has been beautified very nicely.

Anuradha: I went 3-4 years again and even now they put up the retailers on the railway line after the prepare passes. It’s such a good looking expertise to see individuals strolling and simply stopping and don’t transfer till the prepare go.

Heritage steam engine locomotive at Ghum Museum

Ananth: I went to the place final yr. There’s a warfare memorial with stunning panorama round, there are not any markets now, individuals solely promote in a really organized method. There’s a stunning museum in Ghoom. It accommodates the artifacts of Darjeeling hill railway like sign lamps and different tools which have been used earlier than. It additionally has an outside factor to it, a slim gauge, wagons which can be now not in use. Locomotives are all saved within the yard outdoors.

Time Journey

Anuradha: To me, driving on the Darjeeling Himalayan railway is like time journey, to see how the railway was and form of visualize it. It nonetheless baffles me that just about 150 years again they may join railways so nicely.

Ananth: Completely True! Within the Ghoom railway museum, one attention-grabbing artifact is an account of Mark Twain’s “A journey of Darjeeling”, the place quotes written by him might be discovered.

The following railway line which got here up was in Shimla and Ooty, in 1903 and 1908 respectively. Shimla needed to be linked by trains in order that the executive equipment might be moved to Shimla comfortably. At the moment Calcutta was the capital that’s why the title Kalka Mail. It is without doubt one of the oldest trains on the East Indian railway. It connects Howrah to Kalka. Viceroy used to journey in his saloon as much as Kalka within the Kalka Mail. They used to have one other saloon connected to the prepare which used to take him to Shimla from Kalka.

Rack & Pinion Innovation

In Ooty, the designed approach ‘rack and pinion’ methodology is once more an innovation. Rack and Pinion prevented the prepare from rolling again on an enormous gradient whereas accelerating. It enabled a clean journey from Mettupalayam to Nilgiri Hills, probably the most scenic railways we have now. The fourth one which got here up was Matheran close to Mumbai, a small railway line of 16 to 18 km built-in 1907 from Neral to Matheran. From Neral there’s one other station referred to as Aman Lodge to Matheran.

The final hill railway which got here up after Independence was the Kangra valley railway line. The muse was led by Lal Bahadur Shastri and the then railway minister who opened the railway line within the Fifties. It covers the gap from Pathankot to Jogindernagar by way of Palampur. It’s also probably the most scenic railway strains as a result of it passes from the Kangra Valley.

We will broadly divide railway strains into strains led by Personal corporations, strains led by Authorities, princely states who led few railway strains, after which hill railways. The railway strains by all these sectors fashioned the heritage part of our railways. We’ve a reasonably composite railway heritage. Every princely state or every firm has its personal tradition or method of laying the strains.

Memorable journeys within the lush inexperienced paddy fields of the hinterlands

Indian Railways Integrating India

Anuradha: It’s so fascinating that what began as these sprouts everywhere in the nation lastly turned one of many strongest networks connecting the nation.

Ananth: Sure, they have been fashioned primarily or in the end for transporting garments for army functions and uncooked supplies to the ports for exporting.

Anuradha: To me enterprise appears like the largest driver.

Ananth: Really, it was a ‘drain of wealth’ which Dr. Shashi Tharoor has spoken in his e-book as nicely. It was the railway line that enabled the drain of wealth from India to be taken to Britain. The factor is railway enlargement has benefited the Indians as nicely.

Anuradha: Sure, that’s the debate that may proceed. However the truth is that the Indian railway is an integral a part of Indian lives. It’s the most romantic technique to journey, particularly for many who grew up within the 80s and 90s. We’ve some stunning reminiscences of touring on long-distance trains. It’s a part of our Indian lives. We can not think about India with out Indian railways as we speak.

Thanks a lot for taking us on this stunning journey throughout India by means of the historical past of Indian railways and heritage. I’ve a number of questions for you. However I suppose must invite you once more for an additional session to take us to completely different museums and issues.

Laying Railway Traces

Ananth: There are many tales about how railway strains have been laid. We must also possibly, in a while, discuss concerning the museum community which is there on Indian railways as nicely. Additionally, one other subject of curiosity is how railway tourism itself might be separated from the factor of tourism. How we will work on encouraging tourism by means of railways.

Anuradha: I’ll take this chance to ask my listeners to ask questions. We are going to share these questions with Ananth Ji. As a result of he’s able the place he can probably take it to the individuals who could make a distinction. So, if in case you have any options or concepts for Indian railways please go away them within the feedback. We will ship them to the correct individuals.

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