Indian Railways.... the Golden Era
Indian Railways is the world's fourth largest railway network, covering the route length of 60,000km.There is nothing to match the experience of chugging up the hills. If you have some time to spare, then take a slow toy train up to the hill resorts of Shimla, Ooty (Udhagamandalam), Darjeeling or Matheran.
16th April, 1853...............The Beginning
The first train on the Indian sub-continent ran over a stretch of 21 miles, from Bombay to Thane.
The idea of a railway to connect Bombay with Thane, Kalyan and with the Thal and Bhore Ghats, first occurred to Mr. George Clark the Chief Engineer of the Bombay Government, during a visit to Bhandup in 1843.
The formal inauguration ceremony was performed on 16th April 1853, when 14 railway carriages carrying about 400 guests left Bori Bunder at 3.30 pm, "amidst the loud applause of a vast multitude and to the salute of 21 guns."
The first passenger train steamed out of Howrah station destined for Hooghly, to cover a distance of 24 miles, on 15th August, 1854. Thus the first section of the East Indian Railway was opened to public traffic, initiating the beginning of railway transport on the Eastern side of the sub-continent.
In South India, the first line was opened on Ist July 1856, by the Madras Railway Company. It ran between Veyasarpandy and Walajah Road (Arcot), a distance of 63 miles. In the North, 119 miles of line was laid from Allahabad to Kanpur on the 3rd March 1959. The first section from Hathras Road to Mathura Cantonment was opened to traffic on 19th October 1875.
These were the small beginnings, which in due course developed into a network of railway lines all over the country. By 1880, the Indian Railway system had a route mileage of about 9000 miles. Top
Freight and passenger traffic carried by the Indian Railways has recorded an impressive growth. This has been possible due to a conscious effort put in by the railways in improving and modernising its infrastructure, as well as technology upgradation in various fields. In some areas like the laying of tracks, signalling, communication systems and computerisation, the technology in use is comparable to that available in the developed countries.
Production of Rolling Stock
After Independence, Indian Railways have set up production units for the manufacture of diesel locomotives, electric locomotives, coaches, wheels and axles, diesel components, springs, et al. Technology transfer agreements have also been signed, and the manufacture of the latest design of electric locomotives (6000 hp), diesel locomotives (4000 hp) and light weight coaches has been undertaken.
Indian Railways can also take the credit for introducing an "Underground Metro Railway" for Calcutta. The whole route from Dum Dum to Tollygunge was commissioned and opened for commercial operations in 1995. Similarly, the countrys first elevated Mass Rapid Transit System at Chennai has also been completed; the system connects Chennai Beach to Luz.
The 760 km long Konkan Railway from Roha to Mangalore is nearly complete. This section has 169 major and 1630 minor bridges and 88 tunnels, with the longest one being 6.5 km long.
Electric traction is a pollution-free and energy efficient mode of transportation. About 21 percent of the total route of the Railways, i.e. a 13,509 km long route has been electrified up to March 31 1997.
Project Uni-Gauge has been undertaken to develop alternative routes to connect important places with the broad gauge network, develop backward regions and avoid problems faced at trans-shipment points. During the Eighth Plan, 6,733 km of metre and narrow gauge tracks were converted. In the Ninth Plan, conversion of another 6,200 km has been planned.
Doubling/Quadrupling of Railway Lines
Doubling/quadrupling of railway lines is being carried out on the saturated sections of the Indian Railways, to increase freight and passenger carrying capacity on these sections. Doubling of the 1089 km of track was completed in the Eighth Plan. In the Ninth Plan another 2,500 km has been earmarked for completion.
Computerised Passenger Reservation Facility
The "Computerised passenger reservation" facility has been extended to cover over 92 percent of all reservations done on the system. A major step in this direction is the extension of this facility to state capitals not having a direct rail link, for example Shillong, Itanagar, Kohima, Gangtok, Port Blair, etc. Top
Indian Railways proposes to meet the challenge through the implementation of the following thrust areas during the Ninth Plan period:
Generation of adequate rail transport capacity for handling increasing freight and passenger traffic, with special emphasis on the development of terminals.
Completion of the process of rehabilitation, replacement and renewal of over-aged assets.
Modernisation and upgradation of the rail transport system to reduce costs and improve reliability, safety and the quality of service to customers.
Continue with the policy of Uni-gauge.
Introduction of 6000 hp Electric locomotives and 4000 hp Diesel Locomotives employing state-of-the-art technology.
Expansion and upgradation of inter-modal operations, including containerisation.
Improvement of manpower productivity, work culture and staff morale. The broad details of the action plan, to achieve these objectives are as under:
High horse power (4000 hp) diesel locomotives with AC/AC transmission and state-of-the-art technology are being imported, along with the transfer of technology for their indigenous manufacture at Diesel Locomotive Works, Varanasi. Modern light weight passenger coaches are also being imported along with the transfer of technology for indigenous manufacture. Improved payload to tare freight wagons are also being planned for the Indian Railways.
Three-phase drive AC electric locomotives of 6000 hp have been imported along with the transfer of technology for indigenous manufacture at Chittaranjan Locomotive Works, Chittaranjan. Electrification of high-density corridors in order to conserve fossil fuels and provide a pollution-free and energy-efficient mode of transportation will also be pursued.
Latest design concrete sleepers, modern rail fastenings and head hardened rails are being utilised to strengthen the track. Track maintenance is being increasingly mechanised to improve quality and to reduce the cost and time for maintenance.
For enhancing safety, auxiliary warning systems, route relay interlocking, solid state interlocking, and track circuiting are being extended over the system. Modernisation of telecommunications, including gradual switching over from the analogue system to a digital system, which includes digital microwaves, optical fibres and digital telephone exchanges, are being progressively adopted. Railways are also introducing a universal train radio communication system between drivers, guards and the nearest station to enable immediate response in case of emergencies and accidents.
Line capacity works such as new lines, gauge conversion, railway electrification, doublings, improved signaling, etc., would be carried out on the identified sections, so that Indian Railways could carry the projected freight traffic in the Ninth Five Year Plan. It has also been planned to introduce low tare and high payload wagons with increased axle loads and track loading densities and high horse power locomotives to improve the through-put and average speeds of the trains.
More than 94 per cent of the total reservation requirement of Indian Railways is being done by computerised reservation facilities. There are plans to extend these facilities to more stations, satellite locations, city booking offices and the remaining non-railhead state capitals. Networking of the computerised reservation services has also been planned. Interactive inquiry systems are being introduced on more and more stations. Self-printing ticketing machines are also being introduced on more and more stations to reduce the time required for obtaining a ticket. With the introduction of light weight modern coaches and high horse power diesel and electric locomotives, it would be possible to increase the number of coaches in many trains. The average speed of the trains would also improve.
New Initiatives in Resource Mobilisation for the Ninth Plan
Due to dwindling budgetary support over the plan periods and difficulty in raising resources internally beyond a certain limit mainly due to ever increasing Indian Railways Finance Corporation (IRFC) lease charges, and government control over the tariff structure, the railways have adopted a number of initiatives to finance their Annual Plans and the Ninth Five Year Plan.
One such initiative is Build, Own, Lease and Transfer (BOLT), which is the route already being used to a limited extent, for gauge conversion and for procurement of locomotives and wagons. After discussions with the private sector, the railways are introducing changes to make the scheme more user-friendly. An outstanding example of Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) is the 760 km long Konkan Railway, which is due to open to traffic very shortly. The present cost of the project is estimated to be Rs. 3060 crore. Out of this, Rs. 800 crore is through equity participation of five partners, viz., Indian Railways and the four beneficiary states of Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka and Kerala. The balance sum is being raised through market borrowings.
The Own-Your-Wagon-Scheme (OYWS) involves the user of rail freight to fund the procurement of wagons. The wagons are then leased to the railway on the condition that the supply of wagons required to move the traffic is guaranteed. The response of the private sector to OYWS has been encouraging. Top
Passenger Services Accommodation
IR provide different classes of accommodation viz. Air-conditioned 1st class, Air conditioned 2- tier sleeper, Air-conditioned Chair Cars, First class, Sleeper Class and 2nd class accommodation for sitting. Almost all Mail/Express trains involving night journeys have sleeper class and second class accommodation. Sleeping Berths are available between 21.00 and 06.00 hrs.
Entraining En Route
If you hold a reservation from the starting station and want to board the train from a station en route, you can do so by informing the starting station in writing at least 24 hours in advance. No refund is admissible in such cases on the unused portion of the journey.
If you hold a ticket for more than 500 km, you are allowed to break the journey at any station en route at the rate of (i) one break journey of two days in case of tickets upto 1000 km, (ii) two break journeys of two days each in case of tickets over 1000 km, excluding the day of arrival and the day of departure of the train. However, the first break of journey may not be made until a distance of 500 Kms. has been covered from the starting station.
IR allows you to carry free of charge, the following quantity of luggage from the starting station when you buy an adult ticket and half of this quantity on a child ticket:-
Should you feel that your luggage is likely to exceed this limit, please have it weighed in advance at the station. IR requests passengers to carry only the minimum necessary luggage along with them in the compartment, to make the journey comfortable for themselves as also for fellow passengers. The rest may be booked in Luggage Vans attached to every train, so that your luggage reaches the destination along with you.
To help you carry a minimum amount of luggage while travelling, IR supplies bed rolls from important stations to First class and Air-conditioned 3-Tier Sleeper passengers at a charge of 20/- per bed roll, per journey. In case of ACI class and AC2 Tier Class, bed rolls are supplied free of charge.
Important trains on IR have pantry car facilities, for looking after the catering requirements of passengers. Besides, arrangements for serving food and beverages from the stations en route, are also undertaken on trains without pantry cars. For such services, Coach Attendants, Conductors or other authorised staff may please be contacted. The menu cards are also available with the catering staff.
Passengers are requested not to patronise unauthorised Hawkers/Vendors to avoid service of any sub-standard and stale food/meal for their own benefit.
In case medical aid is required due to a sudden injury or illness, please contact the Guard, Conductor or Coach Attendant. The Railway staff will try to arrange for First Aid or a Doctor to attend to you, and supply medicines at prescribed charges.
To ensure that the train is not detained for the purpose, which causes inconvenience to other passengers, it may be necessary for the patient to discontinue his journey by that train to receive proper medical aid. Arrangements have also been made for sending an advance message to the Doctor who is on his way to the Station. Besides this, a list of locally available doctors in the government and the private sector, along with their addresses and telephone numbers is available with the Station Master, so that passengers in need may conveniently avail of these medical facilities.
If you wish to travel in groups for sightseeing, excursions, pilgrimages, etc., Indian Railways can provide exclusive coaches for your journey according to your programme. These are called Tourist Cars Second class, First Class and Air-conditioned First Class. These cars have facilities for cooking as well and the upper class coaches provide additional amenities like a linen room, sitting-cum-dining room, attendents compartment etc. The haulage programme by regular trains can be made to suit your convenience. For further particulars, please contact the Chief Commercial/Operating Managers of the Zonal Railways. Top
(a) Passenger Reservation facilities have been provided by the Indian Railways at nearly 400 locations all over the country from where the passengers can seek their reservations.
(b) Reservation can also be secured from City Booking offices/City Booking Agencies/Out Agencies who have been given quotas.
(c) Type of accommodation :
(d) Advance Reservation Period