TARGET 080514

See the countryside in Style!
Take the train!

Main picture

If you do a Google search for trainrides in India, you will find all kinds of reservation sites which advertise "Luxury train rides - Palaces on Wheels". Well, maybe that is a little bit overstated. Often, the reality of trainrides in India is that shown above.

Although distances in India are long and Indian trains aren't the world's best, travelling in these can add a fascinating new dimension to a visitor's experience of the country. There is virtually no better way to get to make friends with the people and see the spectacular and diverse Indian countryside.

Indian Railways (IR) is the third largest rail network in the world, and the third most dense network as well. Tracks running well over a 100,000 kilometers help connect about 7500 stations, ferrying nearly 20 million people every day.

The following video shows the chaos involved:

The Indian Railways timetable is littered with trains that have been in existence for over a hundred, and in some cases a hundred and fifty, years. The Kalka Mail, numbered 1up/2dn because of its importance, has been running since 1866, first between Howrah and Delhi and then, about 20 years later, between Kalka and Howrah. The historic trains tend to be Mail trains because of their important role in carrying mail (one could post a letter on the Kalka Mail as recently as 10 years ago!) but their importance has declined with the advent of air and road transport. Today the Kalka Mail is renumbered a more information packed but less glamorous 2311/2312. The 3up/4dn Assam Mail which took 48 hours and a ferry crossing to get from Barauni Junction in Central Bihar to Dibrugarh Town near India's border with China and Myanmar no longer runs, a victim of the Broad Gauge. The Frontier Mail, perhaps the most famous of Indian trains, that ran from Bombay to Peshawar is now called the Golden Temple Mail and runs only as far as Amritsar - Peshawar, Lahore, and Rawalpindi having become a part of a new country. The Calcutta Mail meandered across Central India from Bombay to Howrah via Bhopal and Allahabad, synchronizing its schedule with the arrival of ships from England - so that the Viceroy could get his mail as quickly as possible.


Feedback map

Many thanks to Teresa Frisch for submitting this target