RAJ RAILWAYS 2012 By Howard Forster and Chris Campbell
A visit to India with our wives
was made by booking on Great Rail Journeys Golden Triangle Tour.
Following the Mumbai bombings of 2008, security has been visibly
imposed by black berry wearing security personnel, dressed like
soldiers in kharki uniforms, some of whom are armed. Officially,
photography is banned on stations, sheds and marshalling yards.
Tourists are not normally troubled on New Delhi Central Station
when taking photographs, at other times the technique is to keep
cameras out of sight and shoot when there are no security guards
around. By being careful we had no problems.
Friday 16th November. The first taste of increased
security was on arrival at the Sheraton Hotel New Delhi, where
the coach from the airport was stopped at a lowered barrier and
allowed to proceed by armed security guards after clearance. To
enter the hotel, airport type security was used, with all luggage
passing through an x-ray machine and all guests through a metal
detector. After checking in, a taxi was taken to the National
Railway Museum, a price was negotiated to include waiting time
and a return journey.
Although situated on the ring line, it is badly served by suburban
trains which only run during the rush hours, and is not near any
metro station. Entry to the museum was 25 rupees (£ 0.31), like
many museums it is closed on Mondays. A security guard was at
the entrance to the museum which has been created by laying roughly
parallel tracks of various gauges, amongst the trees, and adding
a monorail track and a n.g.circuit on which children could ride
behind a steam outline diesel loco. Most of the exhibits were
in good condition after having been restored, others awaiting
restoration had simply been painted.
On display were:
|CRANE TANK 3
|Sindri Fertiliser Co
|WAG 1 20710
|BB & CI 35
|2ft 6ins Gauge
|DECAUVILLE MYS 507
|2ft 0ins Gauge
|HASANG A 885
Broad Gauge G22 Fairy Queen 2-2-2 KTH (481/1855), which had been
damaged by scrap metal thieves last year, had been sent to Chennai
Saturday 17th November. After passing through
a security check, train No. 12011 7.40 Shatabdi Express was taken
from New Delhi Central to Kalka. An easy schedule was no problem
for WAP-7 30283 Co-Co 6350 H.P. on 16 coaches, as they were designed
to haul 26 coaches at 100mph. There was little freight traffic
seen; the only significant number of locos were at Ambala Cantt
Junction, where seven diesels and two electric locos were noted.
Kalka which lies at the foot of the Himalayas, is the terminus
of the broad gauge. From there the narrow gauge Kalka Shimla
Railway immediately begins to climb up through the foothills.
The British Raj having found Delhi too hot in the summer moved
the seat of government up to Shimla from April September each
year. A practice which commenced in 1864, continued until India
became independent in 1947. In the foothills of the Himalayas
at 7116 ft above sea level, and almost 5000 feet above Kalka,
to connect it by rail presented quite a challenge. Construction
began in 1898 and took five years. Originally planned to be 2
0, gauge it was soon changed to 2- 6gauge. Today the line climbs
4659 feet in 60 miles from Kalka to Shimla Station, passing through
102 tunnels, over 864 bridges and round 919 curves.
Kalka has the main shed and small workshop, at Shimla, minor servicing
can take place under cover. Motive power is provided by ZDM-3
Bo-Bo 700hp diesels fitted with hydro mechanical transmission
and geared to a top speed of 20mph. 148-167 & 178-197 were constructed
by CLW 1970-82 with a single cab. After Parel workshops commenced
diesel locomotive construction in 2005, double cab locomotives
fitted with Cummins 700hp engines have been supplied, 700-3 in
2008-9 and 704-8 in 2011-12, with a further six on order. Normally
there are 16-20 locomotives on the allocation. 14 locos from the
first series and 7 from the second were noted. A 4w diesel which
could not be identified, was plinthed at Kalka shed. It bore the
identity ZDM 151, which is possibly fictitious.
Train 52455 12:10 was taken to Shimla, where it arrived at 17:20.
Five hours on thinly upholstered seats tended to be a little uncomfortable.
As expected ZDM-3 162 in deplorable external condition was the
Shimla pilot. Wild life was to be found with dogs everywhere,
monkeys climbing on the trains and a resident herd of wild goats
on the tracks in the station. After two days of sampling the relics
of the Raj, and views of the Himalayas we returned to New Delhi.
Tuesday 20th November. Train 52456 10:30 from
Shimla was taken. On the descent at Salogha, ZDM-3 162 was passed,
working a train up to Shimla after a visit to Kalka for servicing.
In the train was KC 520 2-6-2T (NB16819/05) presumably being taken
up in order to work back down the line on a charter, as there
were several bags of fuel on the footplate.
Approaching Kalka the brakes were applied in an emergency stop,
a cow had decided to cross in front of the train. A visit to Kalka
shed organised by the local Indian guide was available for anyone
who was interested; ten people took up the offer, there were 14
ZDM-3s and one WAP-1 Co-Co electric present as well as a cow.
Train 12012 17.45 Shatabdi Express was taken to New Delhi
Wednesday 21st November. Rewari Steam Loco Shed
which was formerly a large metre gauge depot, after rebuilding
to accommodate broad gauge locos, reopened on 9th October 2010
as a heritage site. Two of the four metre gauge tracks were removed
from the shed and replaced by a broad gauge one, another BG track
was laid adjacent to the building. It is open daily from 8:00
to 17:00 and there is no entry fee.
Trying to book train tickets on the internet turned out to be
very frustrating. After going through all the stages, before the
booking could be completed an Indian mobile phone number had to
be given. A further search on the internet showed that this has
led to worldwide frustration. After contacting Great Rail Journeys
they then made the booking, and had the tickets waiting for us
on arrival at the New Delhi Hotel.
Train 22742 7:05 Delhi Sarai Rohilla-Bikaner Junc hauled by WDM-2
16610 Bo-Bo DE, was taken on what are now broad gauge tracks to
Rewari Junction, conversion having been completed in 2010. Access
to the shed, which is not visible from the station, was by a path
from platform one. Entry is free, and after the visit, Senior
Section Engineer Shyam Bihari, invited us into his office for
a cup of tea.
Locos present were: Broad Gauge AWE 22907 2-8-2 BLW 69699 1943
Complete WP/P 7200 4-6-2 BLW 73408 1947 Smokebox repairs WP/1
7161 4-6-2 CLW 1965 Complete XE 3634 2-8-2 WBC 422 1930 Complete
Metre Gauge YG 4252 2-8-2 Telco 377 1959 Complete YG 3438 2-8-2
Telco 719 1962 Complete YP 2151 4-6-2 Telco 131 1955 Being Restored
YG 3415 2-8-2 Telco 696 1962 Complete YG 3724 2-8-2 Telco 505
1960 Derelict, no wheels.
Now that Rewari Junction is completely broad gauge, the metre
gauge locos are isolated in the shed. Broad Gauge WL 15005, 4-6-2
(VF 6193/55) was not present. From November 2012 March 2013,
on one weekend per month on both Saturday and Sunday, steam specials
were scheduled between Delhi Cantt and Alwar. For the 286km round
trip the fare was 500R = £6.25.
On 24/25 November WP/1 7161 was to be used. Rewari Junction station
was fairly busy, with coal trains passing through the centre roads
between the platform roads mainly hauled by GM 4000hp WDG-4s and
WDP-4s. Train 12216 Mumbai-Delhi hauled by WDM-2 16397 Co-Co DE
was taken to Delhi Sarai Rohilla. Delhi has a Metro System which
was opened on 24th December 2002. Phase 1 consisting of blue,
red and yellow lines is broad gauge, with stock designed by Mitsubishi.
Phase 2 is standard gauge, which has the airport, green and violet
lines. Stock on these lines has been supplied by Mitsubishi, Bombardier
and Caf. All lines are electrified at 25 kV, with 25% subsurface
and the majority of the remainder carried on elevated sections
above the city. Ticketing is by either token or an Oyster type
card; an all day tourist card cost £1.25. Entry to all stations
is through metal detectors with x-ray machines for baggage. These
were controlled by members of CISF (Central Industrial Security
Force), 3500 of whom are employed on the metro. Photography on
the Metro is prohibited.
Whenever possible using the metro, even for partial journeys was
the quickest way to travel, as road traffic can be quite chaotic.
The Metro was used to travel from Shastri Nagar, the nearest station
to Serai Rohilla to Chandni Chowk which gives access to Delhi
Junction Station. At the west end was a diesel standage on which
three locos were noted. At the east end was a small electric shed
which could be viewed from a convenient footpath across the tracks.
There was only one problem, a security guard complete with rifle
was sitting at the best photography location. As expected, permission
to photograph was refused, so we pressed on and found rather surprisingly
that there was an open entry into the depot.
The shed foreman was very pleasant, gave permission to photograph
and invited us to stay for a cup of tea. On shed were: 2 x WAG-7,
2 x WAM-4, 2 x WAP-4 and 1 x WAP-7. After a short trip on the
metro to Central Secretariat, it was only 100yds further along
the road to The Ministry of Railways. Outside the main entrance,
in immaculate condition, was DHR B799 0-4-0ST (NB 23292/25) 2-0
New Delhi Central Station was only five minute ride on the Metro.
As this is the biggest station, there were queues to pass through
the two security scanners. A servicing shed for visiting electric
locos was adjacent to the north end. From a broad footpath linking
most of the tracks, the majority of the locos could be noted.
It was not very good for photography as they were packed close
together. An attempt at a visit was abandoned when we came across
security men at the office entrance. Noted were: 1 x WAG-7, 6
x WAP-4, 1 x WAP-5 and 3 x WAP-7. A metro was taken to Malviya
Nagar, from where a three wheel tuk-tuk was hired for the trip
to the hotel. The other members of the party had a coach tour
of Delhi and a pedal rickshaw ride.
Thursday 22 November. Train 12002 the Bhopal
Shatabdi Express, (New Delhi Central-Bhopal), was joined at 6:00
for the journey to Agra Cantt. This is the fastest scheduled train
in India with intermediate speeds in the open country often approaching
100mph. Slightly surprisingly it was scheduled to be hauled by
a WAP-5 which at 5440 hp is less powerful than a WAP-7 of 6350hp
After a ten minutes late departure, WAP-5 30016 Bo-Bo headed our
train of 18 coaches slowly out of New Delhi. After a brisk run
at times touching 100mph, time had been regained by Sholaka, 77.2
kms from New Delhi Central.
Following the Yamuna river the line is fairly level through a
largely agricultural area. A number of freight trains were passed,
the majority of which carrying coal, were hauled by pairs of WAG-5s.
One of the problems encountered on the Northern India River Plain,
is air pollution, there was a yellow haze in Delhi, in Agra, there
was even more haze, fortunately the air quality improved during
the day. Agra Cantt. Plinthed in the gardens outside the station
was ZE 53 2-8-2 (Kawasaki 3233/54) 2-6 gauge. Breakfast taken
at the Mughal Sheritan Hotel was enhanced by a view of ZD 553
2-8-2 (Nippon 1757/57) 2-6 gauge, plinthed in the garden. Visits
were made to the Red Fort and Taj Mahal.
Friday 23rd November A coach transferred us to
Jaipur, stopping on the way at Fatepur Sikri. This was constructed
of red sandstone in the 16th century by Akbar as a new capital
of the Mughal Empire to replace Agra. Unfortunately he got it
wrong, mainly due to an insufficient water supply; as a result
it was abandoned only a few years after it was completed. Due
to the gentle climate of the area, after 400 years it still remains
a perfectly preserved ghost town.
Saturday 24th November. After a visit had been
made to the City Palace, we went to Jaipur Junction Station which
was within walking distance of the hotel. Metre gauge trains as
well as standard gauge can be seen. YDM4 6649/743 were standing
on stock in the carriage sidings, while YDM-4 6426 with 14 coaches,
was waiting to depart at 16:55 on train 02085 to Churu. A wild
pig was happily rooting around the sleepers next to the loco.
The cost of travelling in one of the 12 unreserved general coaches
for the 198km journey was £0.35. On the broad gauge most of the
passenger trains were hauled by WDM-2 Co-Co DEs. Plinthed in the
garden outside the main entrance to the station was outside framed
metre gauge OJ 641 4-4-0 (WB 2635/43). A pedal rickshaw was sampled
for the journey back to the hotel.
The first phase of Jaipur Metro was due to open in January 2013.
The majority of the tracks on the two lines planned were to be
carried on elevated sections over the city. At the time of our
visit one of the two contractors engaged to construct the elevated
sections had its contract terminated as construction was seriously
behind schedule. It was proposed to award the whole contract to
the other contractor.
It was evident that only two months after our visit that it would
have been impossible to have to have initiated services, as there
was no evidence of work being carried out on several of the sites
which we passed, and many of the columns to carry the elevated
sections were less than 50% complete.
Sunday 25th November. An elephant ride was included
on a visit to the Amber Fort, Jaipur, after which we visited another
hotel, Rambagh Palace, where BK 4 0-6-4T (WB 2009/15) 2-6 gauge,
together with three coaches were plinthed in the garden.
Monday 26th November. A transfer back to New
Delhi by coach enabled us to make a quick visit to The Northern
Railway HQ, Baroda House, where MTR 1 0-4-2T (DK-/08) 2-6 gauge
was plinthed. Great Train Journeys proved to be an excellent vehicle
from which to sample the railways and see the majority of the
tourist sites in the area. With fine weather and temperatures
of about 80F, conditions were very pleasant.
The only downside was the price of alcoholic drinks; a bottle
of ordinary wine which would cost £5 in a UK supermarket was £60
in the hotels. Apart from that small point, it was a most enjoyable