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Blog Entry# 1963552
Posted: Aug 15 2016 (17:04)

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Last Response: Aug 15 2016 (17:04)
  
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Aug 15 2016 (16:42)   Chennai-Howrah Mail chugs on, 116 years after hitting the tracks this day - Times of India
 

For Better Managed Indian Railways~   948 news posts
Entry# 1963552   News Entry# 277287         Tags   Past Edits
CHENNAI: As the country celebrates 70 years of Independence on Monday, the day marks another glorious chapter in the history of the Indian Railways. One of its legendary trains, the Chennai-Howrah Mail, completes, on this day, 116 years of ceaseless operations.
Introduced in 1900 between Madras (Chennai) and Calcutta (then the national capital), it continues to serve as a crucial link for millions of travellers. It has, in fact, become a brand with rail enthusiasts recalling the interesting stories woven round it from its glorious days. Through rain and shine, it has transported in its weather-beaten coaches literally everyone -from casual travellers, holidayers and migrant workers.
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its more than a century run, the train has a number of firsts, according to members of IRFCA, a forum for railfans.
After being hauled by steam engines for decades, it became in the 1960s the first passenger train to be hauled by a diesel locomotive. "Initially , it was on diesel traction between Howrah and Bhadrak [in Odisha]. Soon after, the entire run was on diesel traction; that cut more than four hours from the journey time," says Kamal, an IRFCA member recalling his experiences.It also had the maximum stoppages en route, ensuring that people in the smallest of places had a rail link.
When the Telugu film industry thrived in Madras, multitudes of its members, especially those hailing from coastal Andhra relied on it. Senior railfan Vijayaraghavan recalls seeing in the 1950s film stars Akkineni Nageswara Rao and Anjali Devi hurrying into the first coach. Over the years, many trains on the Chennai-Howrah route have been withdrawn, but the Mail continues.
A senior railfan and IRFCA member Vijayaraghavan recalls seeing in the 1950s famous film stars Akkineni Nageswara Rao and Anjali Devi hurrying into the first coach.
The Mail was also popular among people in northeastern Andhra Pradesh."It was very convenient because of the timing. It would start from Chennai late at night, and travel throughout Andhra Pradesh for most parts of the day ," recalls a resident of Lakkam Diddi, a tiny village in Srikakulam district.There are several stories about locals pulling the chain as the train neared their villages and getting off there. "The checks were not stringent then," he adds.
his ties in with S Venkatraman's recounting of how it took a long time to reach its destination. The 93year-old former railway employee and railfan who has written books on the history of trains in the country remembers it as being the only train from Chennai to Howrah for more than 30 years. "It had eight wooden coaches in the olden days.Travelling used to be tough.There were bed bugs... There was no catering, no food at the wayside stations.It took more than 36 hours to reach the destination," says Venkatraman, speaking of the numerous journeys he made in it.
In the late 1970s, the railways introduced Coromandel Express on the same route with limited stops to cut down on travelling time between the two cities, forc ing the Mail to play second fiddle. But, the old warhorse has shrugged aside the challenge of its brash, young competitor and soldiers on. It remains THE train on the route for the countless who have travelled by it. Its various features, particularly the evergreen mail van (railway mail service), continuing to embellish their memories.
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1 Public Posts - Mon Aug 15, 2016

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