By: WP 7713


Images of Travels by Train in India, from North to South, in late 2000 and early 2001


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The logo of Indian Railways.  The National emblem of India appears on the front of the locomotive while the stars represent the 9 Railway Zones which make up Indian Railways.  This logo was photographed on a newly built carriage in 2001.


The Indrail Pass 

The Indrail Pass is a boon for foreign travelers as it makes travel easier: the traveler can make a  number of reservations  at the same time, and reservations are very important in India.  All reservation and supplementary fees are included in the price of the Pass.  However, a Pass is more expensive than  buying individual tickets for most travelers, but the convenience is a factor to consider.

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This is the outside of the Indrail Pass which folds in half.  Blue is the colour for the Air-Conditioned Class Pass which cost $ US 800 for 60 days.  Passes range from 1 to 90 days and are available for  Second Class, First Class and Air-Conditioned Class.

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A Passenger reservation Slip.  These are printed by computer after a reservation is made, and they give details of the train, car and seat or berth numbers.  If a meal is included on the train, then the request for Vegetarian or Non-Vegetarian is noted, as well as the passenger’s name, sex and age.  These details are included to reduce fraud.  This slip was a reservation for my last journey on 11 January 2001.

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The inside of the Pass contains the printed regulations.  The handwritten additions are the notations made by the various booking clerks when making reservations along the way.  I traveled  33,000kms in 57 days on this Pass: this explains why  there are so many notations.

The Shatabdi Expresses

 The Shatabdi  (“Centenary”) Expresses are India’s fastest day trains.  The first was introduced, and named to mark the centenary of the birth of independent India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, in 1989.  The  13 trains are all air-conditioned, and extra fares, which include meals and snacks, apply on these fast trains, which  ply on  some routes radiating from  New Delhi, Mumbai, Howrah and Chennai.  Some of the destinations around New Delhi have more than one train a day, for example, Amritsar which sees both a morning and evening departure to  New Delhi, as well as the morning and evening departures from the capital. 

The longest  route is to Bhopal, 705 kms, tabled for 8 hours and  5 minutes. Some of the trains convey an Executive Class car  ( two on the Amritsar trains) which provides more room, but at double the fare.  Power is a mixture of electric or diesel traction, and, depending on conditions on the the route,  up to 120 kmh is allowed with diesel traction, 130 kmh for electric, with the Bhopal Shatabdi, India’s fastest train cleared for a maximum speed of 140 kmh as far as Agra and 130 kmh beyond. This is a revolution indeed  for those used to travel on conventional Indian Express trains  with their average speeds of 60 to 70 kmh, and a maximum speed of 110 kmh  allowed for “ Super Fast Expresses”.  The loads are generally 9 Chair Cars, One Executive Chair Car and two generator Cars, and all seats are reserved.

carname.jpg (20042 bytes) The trains carry their names and destinations above the windows.  This is the Amritsar-New Delhi “ Swarna Shatabdi” on a foggy 11 January 2001.
acc.jpg (20619 bytes) Interior of one of the Air-Conditioned Chair Cars, which has a 2+3 seating arrangement.  This is one of the new  cars ( built in 2000) on the Delhi-Amritsar service which has extra refinements including larger windows.
ddwait.jpg (24228 bytes) Staff in the Executive Chair  Car on the Dehra Dun-New Delhi Shatabdi in January 2001.  Newspapers and mineral water are distributed to passengers.
amrex2.jpg (21395 bytes) Executive Chair Car of the Amritsar Swarna (“Golden”) Shatabdi.  This is one of the recently-built cars with the large windows.
ajjstaff.jpg (24478 bytes) The Ajmer Shatabdi runs through the desert state of Rajasthan, so the waiters’ uniforms reflect the colours of the desert.
ddex2.jpg (22515 bytes) This Executive Chair Car on the Dehra Dun set had the most pleasing decor of all, with  diffused central lighting, restful colours, smooth finishes and reading lamps fitted under the luggage racks.  The fans are provided in case there is a failure of the air-conditioning equipment.
ddar.jpg (24597 bytes) The Dehra Dun Shatabdi arrives there in November 2000, behind  locomotive WDM2C 14014 in a livery to match the blue and cream of the cars.  The first vehicle is a Generator Car.
srecc.jpg (19174 bytes) The Dehra Dun train stops at Saharanpur for 20 minutes to allow the locomotive to change ends.  This is one of the standard Chair cars with the smaller windows.
bald.jpg (18791 bytes) The “short hood” end of the WDM2C while reversing at Saharanpur.
sreloc.jpg (26670 bytes) The “long hood” end of WDM2C 14020 under the atmospheric covered roof of Sahranpur station.
trsupdt.jpg (21542 bytes) The Train Superintendent (Right) and the Deputy Superintendent of the Ajmer Shatabdi at Jaipur.


The Shivalik Deluxe Express

The Shivalik Deluxe Express is the premier train on the Narrow Gauge ( 2'6") Kalka-Shimla Railway.  Although Indian Railways publicity refers to travel on this route as being by a “ Toy Train”, there is nothing tiny about the scale of operations.  The line rises to a summit level of 6808 ft above sea level (2073 metres), there are 103 tunnels including one 3752 ft long ( this is the longest straight length of track on the route), and full signal interlocking with substantial stations.  Not to mention spectacular scenery en route to the  sprawling and interesting Hill town, Shimla, once the Summer Capital of the British Indian Empire and now the Capital of Himachal Pradesh State. The Shivalik Express  makes only one stop on the 4 hour 45 minute journey, at Barogh where either  a packed breakfast or dinner is loaded aboard the train to be distributed by one of the stewards aboard each coach.


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Holidaying passengers are photographed beside Northern railway ZDM3 locomotive No. 148 at Barogh.  There is time here to admire the old fashioned garden here with its “Please, no Plucking ” signs, fountain and refreshment room.

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Interior of one of the Chair Cars on the Shivalik Express.  A supplementary fare is charged for travel on this faster and more comfortable train.

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On the long climb from Kalka to Shimla.  One of the historic Rail Cars is available for charter, and Indian railways has in September 2001 run a trial trip with a preserved steam locomotive from Shimla to Kanoh.

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High above the station at Shimla is the Mall which runs across the Ridge, offering views of the Himalaya ( just visible in the cloud).


The Rajdhani Expresses 

The Rajdhani Expresses are India’s finest trains.  They link the National Capital, New Delhi, with each of the State Capitals.  They run to fast schedules on their overnight journeys, and they convey reserved passengers only in three categories of Air-Conditioned Sleeping Car.  Meals and snacks, as well as bedding, are included in the extra fares payable for travel on these trains.

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Passengers are busy boarding the twice weekly Trivandrum Rajdhani Express at Hazrat Nizamuddin station in Delhi’s south.  This station is the terminus for some long distance  trains in order to relieve track overcrowding at  Delhi’s main stations, Delhi Jn and New Delhi.

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At the head end waits a WAP 4E electric locomotive 22279.  behind is a Generator Car, Air-Conditioned First Class, AC 2 Tier and 3 Tier Sleepers, a Pantry Car and another generator.

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Shortly after the 11.20 departure the Train Superintendent visits to discuss the passengers’ meal choices:  Vegetarian or Non-Vegetarian, Indian or Western style.  This is part of the Indian style vegetarian lunch on the first day.

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Lunch was preceded by snacks, then soup and bread sticks.  Here a steward brings in hot parathas from the Pantry Car.  Meals are served on folding tables in the compartments; there is no dining car.

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The first real chance for a stroll is at Ratnagiri in the morning.  The Rajdhani runs along the newly opened Konkan Railway route.

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For a change, a Western style Vegetarian lunch on the second day.  The main meal is vegetable cutlets: there are  also bread and butter, mixed vegetables, salad, curd.  The fruit is papaya and pomegranate.

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Twenty six hours after the departure from Hazrat Nizamuddin, the Rajdhani pauses at tropical Madgaon ( Goa).  What a journey of contrasts! The previous day’s journey was through the arid semi-desert bordering a tiger sanctuary, and today’s is all lush greenery under deep blue skies.  I enjoyed this fascinating journey so much that I repeated it a month later.

Where the Land Meets the Sea

Where the land meets the sea in the far South, at Cape Comorin,  is the small coastal town of Kanya Kumari, an important pilgrimage centre as the waters of the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal merge with those of the Indian Ocean, and bathing in the waters washes away sins.  On full moon nights sunrise and moonrise occur simultaneously.  Kanya Kumari is another 100 kms south of Trivandrum, capital of Kerala.

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Sunrises and sunsets can be very spectacular in Kanya Kumari- but not when a cyclone is approaching.

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The colour of the sky and the water behind the pilgrimage islands acts as a cyclone warning.  All the fishing boats had been moved high; the cyclone arrived during the night.

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Souvenir sellers were very active here, and both Bengali tourist and boy scouts were very numerous.



Why WP 7713?

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Why WP 7713?  This was the locomotive which hauled the “ Taj Express” from New Delhi to Agra on my first journey to India in December 1980. It is my tribute to the famous steam locomotives of India. 


( All photographs Copyright  © John Lacey 2001)



Has your appetite for train travel in India been whetted?

For more photographs, visit my other web pages

Vasco Vindaloo  (travels in Goa, published January 2002)

Steam Masala ( travels throughout India)

Around Agra    

India's Colourful Railway 

or my Home Page ( links to all my web pages)

and my friend S. Shankar’s Indian Super Railway, the most extensive resource of Indian Railway web sites.


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