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Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
See also John Raby's blogs at www.rabylee.uk/linesidingindex.html


Monday, August 8, 2016

Kolkata 6-7 March

Plinthed in a small enclosure opposite Howrah station was 2ft 6in gauge Bagnall 0-6-4T AK 6 (2021 of  1916) ex Ahmadpur-Katwa Railway
Kolkata was hot, humid, busy, and a little smoggy.
Acclimatisation for the early arrivals included a visit to the famous Howrah station, across the Hooghly River from the CBD, and a ride back on the ferry.

The huge Howrah station from across the Hooghly River
We made acquaintance with some of the residents of Howrah Station, a very busy suburban terminus.
The Howrah bridge, similar in length to Brisbane's Story bridge, dominates the scene
Ablutions on the western bank

The next day the entire party rode a chartered tram from the central tram station in the heart of Kolkata. This is the last tram system left in India.
Articulated tram at Dalhouise Square
Goat herding at the central tram station

We also took a city walk. Kolkata is definitely a city of the Raj, with many fine Victorian buildings of which a good proportion are in a parlous state of repair.
The distinctive yellow Kolkata taxis in a gracious city street. The Hindustan Ambassador, based on the Morris Oxford, only went out of production in 2014.

Kolkata is a busy commercial hub.
Final port of call for the day was the Indian Railways East Regional Railway Museum just south of Howrah station, which was well worth a visit. There is a capacious display hall and a jolly pleasure railway, but the majority of exhibits are displayed in the open in railway sidings.

2ft 6in gauge Bagnall 2-6-2T BK-13 (3053 of  1953) ex Burdwan Katwa Railway

Broad gauge 20202 (Class WAM-1) was the first alternating current passenger locomotive in India. Manufactured by a European consortium in 1959, it is reportedly operational and its condition suggests that it has not been long on display.

First sighting in India of a Darjeeling B class locomotive. 798 (North British 23291 of 1898) is nicely displayed under cover with two carriages.
A metre gauge express engine, 2-8-2 3403 built by TELCO (a.k.a Tata) in 1961.

Two British tour members enjoying their ride on the 18 inch gauge 'Fairy Queen Express' train.

Indian Narrow Gauge Extravaganza

Mahanadi, Darjeeling Himalayan Railway 11 March 2016
I was lucky enough to participate in the month-long Darjeeling Tours Narrow Gauge Extravaganza tour in March-April. Unfortunately, work commitments since them have delayed the posting of blog entries, but it is now time to begin.

Bilaspur, Himachal Pradesh
I would strongly recommend Darjeeling Tours http://www.darjeelingtours.co.uk/under tour leader Fuzz Jordan to anyone contemplating a trip to India  The tour was well-organised and the arrangements were flexible enough to allow for individual detours. Some famous cultural sites were included, but not at the expense of rail interest, and some of the accommodation echoed the days of the Raj in charm and comfort.

Having said that, a tour of this length in India is hard going and a certain level of physical fitness and endurance is recommended. India can seem chaotic at times, but things generally work, and the Indian people are welcoming and proud of their country.

Kangra Station (2ft 6in gauge), Himachal Pradesh, 21 March 2016
Because India is such an interesting country, and that includes its main line (5ft 6in gauge) trains, I will be including a fair bit of local colour amongst the narrow gauge frocus.