A System That Serves More Than 350,000,000 People
VICTORIA STATION, BOMBAY, provides a striking contrast to its namesake in London.
THE Indian railways, one of the largest single commercial enterprises in the world, operate more than 42,000 miles of track. They consist of fourteen first, sixteen second, and twenty-
The organization of the transport system falls upon the shoulders of a small body of men at Delhi, the Railway Board, who are responsible for the finance, policy, and direction of all railways which are members of the Indian Railways Conference Association. At the same time each railway has its “agent” or general manager. On the State-
It is difficult for anyone who has not been to India to realize how formidable were the problems which faced and still confront railway administrations. There is the size of the sub-
The traveller probably will not realize, until he is one day bundled out of his large compartment into one of about half the size at some unearthly hour of the night, that the Indian railways are built in three different gauges -
The inconvenience and the expense involved by these changes of gauge are as irritating to the railway administration as they are to the traveller, but they are, under present conditions, inevitable, since they result from the cost of building rail-
As a rule, the densely populated districts, which are usually the most fertile, are served by the broad-
The Indian railways have three classes -
It is with first-
As there is no corridor on most Indian mail trains, the passenger can only make his way to and from the restaurant car for meals at stations where the train stops; when there is no restaurant car attached to the train, the passenger takes his meals in the station refreshment room, and a sufficiently long halt is allowed for this at the station. Visitors to India frequently object to the non-
ACROSS THE FLOOD WATERS of the Mahi River can be seen the railway bridge of the Bombay, Baroda and Central Railway, with its eight 220-
Except in the three or four winter months the day is hot and uncomfortable, while at the height of the hot weather the temperature, day and night, is so great that only those who cannot avoid doing so travel. Electric fans are of little avail when the thermometer is between 110 degrees and 120 degrees; in fact, they do nothing but blow hot streams of air upon the already overheated body. It is, however, possible to buy large blocks of ice which are placed in containers on the floor of the compartment, which do something to bring the temperature down to more normal proportions.
In the old days it used to be common to have Kus-
Then there is dust. A fortune awaits the person who can invent an economical dust-
But there are compensations. The railway stations offer a kaleidoscope of Indian life. Looking at a station at train time one would imagine that the whole of India’s vast population was for ever on the move. The third-
Carriages, which already seem to be overflowing, absorb another dozen or so without any apparent difficulty. Sellers of sweets, fruit, and tea mingle with beggars and passengers to create still further pandemonium. Purdah ladies, closely guarded and covered, so that they resemble moving bathing tents, are pushed through the crowds to the special compartments reserved for women only; holy men, pseudo or otherwise, scantily clad in torn clothes, smeared with ashes and inevitably without tickets, are dragged by perspiring ticket collectors from carriages and pushed out of the station gates. Then the whistle blows and, as if by magic, the entangled mass of humanity sorts itself out, everyone is aboard and seated and, sad to relate, some ten or more per cent of those crushed together in the third-
A PICTURESQUE SCENE on the Kalka-
This disease of travelling without tickets is one of the most serious which affect Indian railways. When it is considered that two or three million culprits are detected every year, it is a matter for speculation as to how many escape. The cost of the measures which have to be adopted for detection is so great that it is often a matter for consideration whether it would not be better to let well alone. It also leads on to a further speculation as to why the Indian poorer class, which, of course, is the great bulk of the population, travels at all. Although the third-
Such peculiarities of Indian travel do not give any indication of the problems which had to be overcome to make Indian rail-
EXTREME GRADIENTS on the Darjeeling-
Leaving Bombay, one travels for 350 miles over the flat plain that lies between the Western Ghats and the sea; there are five major rivers to be spanned, two of which require bridges of over three-
The coal for this train will have come some 1,500 miles from the mines in Bengal, the water for the engine has had to be pumped from deep wells or brought from a nearby river; the steel for the rails has been brought from the Tatanagar Mills in Bengal; the locomotive has been manufactured, most likely, in England and shipped whole to India; the rolling-
In other parts of India there are different problems. In the deserts of Rajputana and Sind, for example, the permanent way has been laid direct upon the sand with little or no ballast. Its stability is consequently such that very fast speeds are dangerous, while at any moment during the monsoon period a sudden rainstorm may wash away great lengths of line and stop all traffic. In these districts a swarm of locusts has been known to dislocate the train service by rendering the rails so slippery with their crushed bodies that the wheels could not grip sufficiently.
The short mountain railways give other examples of difficulties overcome. The three most famous of these railways are the Kalka-
In spite of the many constructional and operating difficulties which face the Indian railways, express services of the major systems are good. Care such as that given to the maintenance of the permanent way in Great Britain is not possible in India. On most railways ruling gradients are steeper and the track is very largely unfenced, except in built-
Most mail trains are long-
Among this class there are two which hold the pride of place : the “Frontier Mail” of the Bombay, Baroda and Central India and the North-
BETWEEN BOMBAY AND DELHI. A striking view of the Frontier Mail passing over a viaduct on the Darah section of the Bombay Baroda & Central India Railway. Leaving Delhi, the mail train proceeds on the lines of the North Western Railway to the north-
Possibly the most romantic of India’s mail trains is the “Grand Trunk Express”, which links the sub-
IN THE FAMOUS KHYBER PASS. A local train is crossing a bridge not far from Shahgai, on the Khyber Railway. This picture clearly shows the difficult country through which the Khyber Railway has to pass.
In recent years the electrification of certain sections of the Indian railways, chiefly around Bombay, has made rapid progress. The need of electric train services became evident first in Bombay. Owing to the configuration of the city, it became no longer possible to carry the heavy daily passenger traffic by the steam train services. Bombay is built upon an island, or rather what were originally seven separate islands; its development, which has been very rapid during the last three decades, has been to the north into the island of Salsette, where suburbs reach up to thirty miles from the heart of the city. This growing suburban population is served by the Bombay, Baroda and Central India and the Great Indian Peninsula railways. Up to twelve years ago the former railway had only one double line of track to carry both main line and local traffic into Bombay. It was found that even with quadruplication the maximum capacity of steam trains was insufficient. Both railways decided to instal an electrified local service, capable of running, at the peak periods, a five-
A GOODS LOCOMOTIVE on HEH the Nizam’s State Railway. This 2-
They were transported by road on special bogies from the works to the Trent, where, from a wharf built for the purpose, they were transferred into flat-
At Bombay the bogies were unpacked and placed on the track at the quayside, and the coaches were then swung from the ship direct on to their bogies and were thence conveyed to the railway workshops to be made ready for service. The undertaking was carried out expeditiously and without a hitch.
OVER 42,000 MILES OF TRACK are open to traffic in India. The network of the main systems can be seen in this map.
The electrification of the suburban sections of the two railways was completed between 1927 and 1928. Immediately afterwards the Great Indian Peninsula Railway decided to electrify its main line from Bombay to Poona, at that time one of the longest main line electrifications in the world, and later its line from Bombay to Igatpuri and beyond. While the Bombay, Baroda and Central India Railway takes its electrical power from the Tata Power Station, the Great Indian Peninsula Railway built a power station at Chola, some thirty miles from Bombay. These schemes, involving very heavy train services over the local sections, needed up-
The success of these new electrical services is remarkable when it is remembered that the railways had nowhere whence they could draw the staff required, either to drive or maintain the locomotives or to keep the technical equipment in repair. They had to start from zero and train an efficient organization. The Indian is proving himself a capable railwayman. In the past most of the engineering and transport officials were Europeans, recruited in Great Britain. The fore-
The recruitment of the upper subordinates from Great Britain has almost ceased, and, except when a man with special technical qualifications is required, positions of responsibility and trust are being filled by Indians. Of course, all unskilled manual labour has always been performed by Indians, who have found in railway work better pay and better conditions than in any other branch of industry. It has been compulsory for many railway companies to provide their transport staff with free living quarters, while quarters have also been built for workshop and other staffs for which a small rent is charged.
INDIAN LABOURERS AT WORK, renewing the ballast of the permanent way in a typical siding.
India being the land of great rivers, there are great bridges which span the Ganges, the Indus, the Godavari, and many other rivers less well known but big enough to make the Thames at London look like an inconspicuous rivulet. Two great bridging works are now under way -
The biggest locomotives on the broad-
THE PARSIK TUNNEL on the Great Indian Peninsula Railway. This double-
[From part 13, published 26 April 1935]