Darjeeling Mail

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Darjeeling Mail
Darjeeling Mail trainboard.jpg
Overview
Service type Superfast Mail
Current operator(s) Eastern Railway of Indian Railways
Ridership Popular train between Kolkata-New Jalpaiguri with slip route to- Haldibari via Jalpaiguri
Route
Start Sealdah
Stops Bardhaman, Bolpur, Malda Town, Kishanganj
End New Jalpaiguri - Slip route to- Haldibari via Jalpaiguri
Distance travelled 567 km (Sealdah-New Jalpaiguri)
624 km (Sealdah-Haldibari)
Average journey time 9 hrs 55 mins (Sealdah-New Jalpaiguri)[1]
Service frequency Daily
Train number(s) 12343/12344
On-board services
Class(es) AC 1st (1), AC 2nd (2), AC 3rd (7), Sleeper (9), General (5)
Catering facilities No Pantry Car available - one must buy food at the starting station
Technical
Rolling stock Siliguri shed WDP4/WDP4B locomotive
Track gauge 1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in)
Operating speed Average speed-60kph. Maximum speed 110kph. Generally runs at 70-90kph

The Darjeeling Mail is one of the legendary trains in the eastern region of India that has been running from pre-independence days and is still in operation. It connects to the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway at New Jalpaiguri in Siliguri. This is a major train for Kolkata-Siliguri route and Haldibari slip route.

Darjeeling Mail - AC 3 tier
Darjeeling Mail - Sleeper Class

History[edit]

Run via East Bengal[edit]

During the British period all connections to North Bengal were through East Bengal.

From 1878, the railway route from Kolkata, then called Calcutta, to Siliguri was in two laps. The first lap was a 185 km journey along the Eastern Bengal State Railway from Calcutta Station (later renamed Sealdah) to Damookdeah Ghat on the southern bank of the Padma River, then across the river in a ferry and the second lap of the journey was a 336 km metre gauge line of the North Bengal Railway that linked Saraghat on the northern bank of the Padma to Siliguri.[2]

The 1.8 km long Hardinge Bridge across the Padma came up in 1912.[3] In 1926 the metre-gauge section north of the bridge was converted to broad gauge, and so the entire Calcutta - Siliguri route became broad-gauge.[2] The route thus ran: Sealdah-Ranaghat-Bheramara-Hardinge Bridge-Iswardi-Santahar-Hili-Parabtipur-Nilphamari-Haldibari-Jalpaiguri-Siliguri.

The Darjeeling Mail ran on this route in pre-partition days. Even after the partition of India it ran on this route for some years. It used to connect to Assam Mail, which in pre-partition days ran from Santahar to Guwahati.[4][5]

Ferry across Ganges[edit]

With the partition of India in 1947, the major hurdle in connecting Kolkata and Siliguri was that there was no bridge across the Ganges in West Bengal or Bihar. A generally acceptable route to Siliguri was via Sahibganj Loop to Sakrigali and sometimes Sahibganj ghats. Across the Ganges by ferry to Manihari Ghat. Then metre gauge via Katihar and Barsoi to Kishanganj and finally narrow gauge to Sliguri.[6] In 1949 Kishanganj-Siliguri section was converted to metre gauge.[2]

Run via Farakka Barrage[edit]

In the early 1960s, when Farakka Barrage was being constructed, a more radical change was made. Indian Railways created a new broad-gauge rail link from Kolkata, and on a greenfield site south of Siliguri Town built an entirely new through broad-gauge station, New Jalpaiguri.[2]

The 2,240 metres (7,350 ft) long Farakka Barrage carries a rail-cum-road bridge across the Ganges. The rail bridge was thrown open to the public in 1971, thereby linking the Barharwa-Azimganj-Katwa Loop Line to Malda Town, New Jalpaiguri and other railway stations in North Bengal.[7][8] Since then Darjeeling Mail has been using the Howrah-New Jalpaiguri line.[9]

A tribute[edit]

Here is a tribute to Darjeeling Mail: “Like the Deccan Queen in the west the Darjeeling Mail has acquired a legendary status in the east. For me the Darjeeling Mail was the train that took me home on every vacation and brought me back to my boarding school at the end of it. I guess in that sense I always loved 43UP while I wasn't very happy to be in 44DN. However, the Darjeeling Mail had silently made a mark on my mind. I guess I have been travelling on this train from the early seventies when it was WP hauled. During those days the locomotive and the crew of New Jalpaiguri worked the mail till Rampurhat from where a Rampurhat loco and crew took it all the way to Sealdah. There is an old saying in North Bengal which I guess is still true. It says the following : New Jalpaiguri springs to life with the arrival of the Darjeeling Mail and sleeps with its departure in the evening. 19:15 in those early days was the famous time when the mail left Sealdah in the up direction and New Jalpaiguri in the down direction. From my home in the railway colony every evening as child I used to see the WP thrusting forward with the mail and the cab had a red glow followed by a string of lights which made an everlasting impression. Even during diesel days in the eighties when I was at home during the vacation I used to religiously see the departure of the mail. At 19:15 hours one could hear the notch up sound of the WDM-2 and the within a few minutes it rushed by with a string of lights following it. The train was so popular that it was very difficult to get a reservation during any time of the year and there was a real fight among wait-listed passengers to get a berth. The TTE's really had a good time and made fortunes on the mail. Apart from catering to two slip coaches from Haldibari, the mail also had two slip coaches for Katihar which was detached at Kumedpur. Though those slip coaches to Katihar were later abolished the mail continued to stop at Kumedpur and the small junction near Barsoi from where the line diverged to Katihar.”[10][11]

While Darjeeling Mail normally has a smooth run, it occasionally receives jolts.[12][13][14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Darjeeling Mail 12343". Clear Trip. Retrieved 2012-03-04. 
  2. ^ a b c d "India: the complex history of the junctions at Siliguri and New Jalpaiguri". IRFCA. Retrieved 2011-11-12. 
  3. ^ "Hardinge Bridge". Banglapaedia. Retrieved 2011-11-12. 
  4. ^ Joydeep Dutta and Harsh Vardhan. "Trains of Fame and Locos with a Name, part 2". IRFCA. Retrieved 2012-02-22. 
  5. ^ "Geography - International". IRFCA. Retrieved 2012-02-22. 
  6. ^ "my school i wish". Madhyamgram Re-visited after 15 years. Retrieved 2011-01-23. 
  7. ^ Salman, Salman M. A.; Uprety, Kishor (2002). Conflict and cooperation on South Asia's international rivers: a legal perspective. World Bank Publications. pp. 135–136. ISBN 978-0-8213-5352-3. Retrieved 2011-07-05. 
  8. ^ R.P.Saxena. "Indian Railway History timeline". Retrieved 2011-11-20. 
  9. ^ "Darjeeling Mail (12343)". ixigo. Retrieved 2012-02-22. 
  10. ^ Joydeep Dutta. "A tribute to Darjeeling Mail". IRFCA 2004. Retrieved 2012-02-22. 
  11. ^ John Lacey. "Reflections on Joydeep’s Darjeeling Mail Tribute". RFCA. Retrieved 2012-02-22. 
  12. ^ "Darjeelng Mail horror run, Train reaches Sealdah 11 hours late". Calcutta, India: The Telegraph, 12 March 2008. 2008-03-12. Retrieved 2012-02-22. 
  13. ^ "Man dead on Darjeeling MailI". Calcutta, India: The Telegraph, 30 March 2010. 2010-03-30. Retrieved 2012-02-22. 
  14. ^ "Archival information about Darjeeling Mail". The Times of India. Retrieved 2012-02-22. 

External links[edit]

External video
Darjeeling Mail-WDP4 magic with 8 AC coaches
Darjeeling Mail at Kamarkundu Junction