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India's International Passenger Trains


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#1 jis

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 11:45 AM

I was just looking at the type of accommodation provided on the four international trains that operate between India and its neighbors:

 

A. India - Pakistan - two services, both require a change of train at the border. The accommodation on the Indian side are as follows:

 

1. Samjhauta Express - Delhi - Atari - [change train] (Wagah - Lahore)

 

10x Sleepers and 1x AC 2 Tier Sleeper, twice a week - Pantry catering, thirteen car Indian Railways ICF consist on the Indian side. Consist composition on Pakistan side unknown.

 

2. Thar Link Express - Bhagat ki Kothi (Jodhpur) - Munabao - [change train] (Zero Point - Karachi), 9 car Indian Railways ICF consist on the Indian side. Consist composition on Pakistan side unknown.

 

7x Sleepers, once a week - no catering (just a five hour run)

 

B. India - Bangladesh - one current service, one to be inaugurated 1 July 2017. Neither require change of train at the border.

 

1. Dhaka Maitree Express - Kolkata - Gede - (Darshana - Dhaka) - notionally replaces pre-1965 Kolkata - Goalondo Ghat East Bengal Express service which connected to Dhaka by ferry from Goalondo.

 

4x AC Chair Car 4x AC 1st Class, four times a week - fully Air-conditioned, two meals catered, ten car Indian LHB consist - one provided by Indian Railways and one by Bangladesh Railway.

 

2. Khulna Maitree Express - Kolkata - Petrapole - (Benapole - Jessore - Khulna) - to be introduced 1 July 2017 - replaces pre-1965 Barisal Express service

 

1x AC 1st, 1x AC Chair Car, 3x non-AC Chair Car, once a week - catering planned even though less than 5 hour run, seven car Bangladesh Railway Indonesian PT consist.
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One thing that becomes obvious is that the service to Bangladesh is more robust with clientele that is more numerous and more well to do. There is strong pressure to make the Dhaka service daily. Also Customs and Immigration checks are planned to be moved to the origin and destination station in the near future eliminating the 3+ hour border stop. The Khulna service is also expected to become more frequent than once a week soon after its commercial inauguration.

 

The service to Pakistan at present at best is limping along. Hopefully things will improve some day. But the current lack of trust between the two countries appears to make that day a far away dream. The clientele for the Pakistan service seem to be not as affluent as that for the Bangladesh service.

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Future:

 

1. India and Bangladesh are planning to run a sealed train through Bangladesh connecting Kolkata with Agartala in the Indian state of Tripura, reducing the travel time between the two by effectively a day, replacing an overnight journey by a day train.

 

2.Three more border crossings are being reopened and are likely to get at least some local passenger service across the border.

 

3. The completion of the new Padma Bridge between Bhanga and Naraynganj will open up a second shorter route from Kolkata to Dhaka. How train service between Kolkata and Dhaka might get reorganized and whth additional service will be added to Barisal with the completion of the Faridpur - Barisal - Payra projects are all open possibilities being explored.

 

4. Meanwhile, it is more than likely that both the Kolkata - Dhaka and the Kolkata - Khulna services will become daily within the next couple of years.

 

5. At the present time there are no major efforts afoot to increase service between India and Pakistan, though there is enough demand to increase the frequency of both the trains in spite of the difficulty encountered by travelers in obtaining visas, and the restrictions on foreign Passport holders regarding land border crossings.

 



#2 jis

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 02:00 PM

Some background experience on traveling by Samjhauta Express

 

https://www.quora.co...ta-Thar-Express



#3 jis

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 02:10 PM

News about streamlining customs and immigration for Kolkata - Dhaka Maitree Express, and reducing the end to end run time by 3 hours as a result....

 

http://www.thehindub...icle9625054.ece


Edited by jis, 18 May 2017 - 02:10 PM.


#4 jis

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 02:44 PM

Some more historical info on the Munabao border crossing used by the Thar Express today, thanks to my friend Ajai Banerji

 

https://abn397.wordp...border-munabao/

 

https://abn397.wordp...rder-munabao-2/


Edited by jis, 18 May 2017 - 02:50 PM.


#5 cirdan

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 05:53 AM

Does anything go through between India and Pakistan these days? Freight?

Or are the two systems effectively isolated.

#6 jis

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 05:56 AM

There are freight trains that run across the border quite regularly.

#7 Metra Electric Rider

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Posted 22 May 2017 - 04:55 PM

What other international connections are there, or are those it (unless via Pakistan or Bangladesh)?


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#8 jis

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Posted 22 May 2017 - 05:38 PM

What other international connections are there, or are those it (unless via Pakistan or Bangladesh)?

Those are it for now. There is some talk about a joint project connecting Myanmar with Bangladesh and India around Chitagong, forming part of the south branch of the Trans Asia Rail Link, connecting thence to China and Southeast Asia to be funded jointly by China, India and the ADB. As it turns out given a reasonable higher speed rail infrastructure Yangon is probably a day's journey from Kolkata.

Any further link to the west will naturally be through Pakistan and is subject to political stability issues of that country.

More locally there are several proposals for extending railways into Nepal. There is an active project for a branch line to Bhutan.

And finally there is a strategic project to extend rail connectivity close to the Chinese border at Nathu La, which some day may connect up with the branch from the Tibet Railway that China is building down to the same area to Yadong from Xegaze in the Tsangpo valley.

There is a second survey that has been done for a line to Tawang near the Chinese border in Namka Chu valley in Arunachal Pradesh. But that is politically more fraught since China claims most of Arunachal Pradesh to be its territory occupied by India. It will take much diplomatic give and take to resolve that issue first.

It looks like most if not all of it will get built, but will take several decades. I would bet on the Myanmar connection happening first, with new links built from there to Thailand and to Kunming in China being built first since it is easier to build that.

Edited by jis, 22 May 2017 - 05:51 PM.


#9 Anderson

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Posted 22 May 2017 - 07:16 PM

Everything you've noted is in like with what I've read elsewhere.  I'd also note that part of the problem with Pakistan in this context is that it's not like the next few countries over are great economic powers: Afghanistan has all sorts of issues, Iran is an economic basket case, etc.  So while running some freight through isn't inconcievable, running pax through is going to be tricky.

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but (though the alignments aren't great since they date from *ahem* the 1940s or before) aren't there at least former alignments most of the way from India into Thailand?


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#10 cirdan

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Posted 23 May 2017 - 02:54 AM

What about Sri Lanka? Obviously there is no land connection, but are there boat trains or train ferries?

And in terms of international train trips going through Pakistan or Bangladesh (or even into those countries), how far can you get in terms of Indian Railways being able to sell you a ticket or provide timetable info, even if the trip involves several connections?

Edited by cirdan, 23 May 2017 - 02:55 AM.


#11 cirdan

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Posted 23 May 2017 - 02:58 AM

Everything you've noted is in like with what I've read elsewhere.  I'd also note that part of the problem with Pakistan in this context is that it's not like the next few countries over are great economic powers: Afghanistan has all sorts of issues, Iran is an economic basket case, etc.  So while running some freight through isn't inconcievable, running pax through is going to be tricky.


Never been o that part of the world myself, but from the snippets of news I've read here and there I get the imprerssion that the railroad system in Iran is actually quite usable and that there is a fair bit of investment going on.

#12 jis

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Posted 23 May 2017 - 06:49 AM

 

Everything you've noted is in like with what I've read elsewhere.  I'd also note that part of the problem with Pakistan in this context is that it's not like the next few countries over are great economic powers: Afghanistan has all sorts of issues, Iran is an economic basket case, etc.  So while running some freight through isn't inconcievable, running pax through is going to be tricky.


Never been o that part of the world myself, but from the snippets of news I've read here and there I get the impression that the railroad system in Iran is actually quite usable and that there is a fair bit of investment going on.

 

Yes. Iran has a very nice railroad system with some electrification around Tehran. They have finally fixed the new trackage connecting Kerman to Zahedan (the gauge change point between Indian Broad Gauge and Standard Gauge) sot rains can operate reliably. They are in the process of a massive renewal bringing in modern rolling stock and setting up license manufacturing of some stuff in Iran (again). Actually Iran is not as much of an economic basket case as the US propaganda would have one believe.
 
The only real critical problem in the South Asian leg of the Trans Asian Railway is Pakistan. China is trying mightily to fix it some, but the political challenges, often of Pakistan's own creation, are difficult to overcome at present.

What about Sri Lanka? Obviously there is no land connection, but are there boat trains or train ferries?

Economically and technically it is feasible to construct a long trestle over the shallow waters of the so called "Adam's Bridge", but the Tamil insurrection in Sri Lanka has muddied the waters politically against such, and it is unlikely to happen. For the same reason there are few if any ferries operational, though the situation is improving some.
 

And in terms of international train trips going through Pakistan or Bangladesh (or even into those countries), how far can you get in terms of Indian Railways being able to sell you a ticket or provide timetable info, even if the trip involves several connections?

None of the railways cross sell the other railway's tickets. IR and BR sell tickets on the international trains for the trains originating in their territory, and only recently they have started selling return tickets.
 
However, everything is available via their web sites, oddly enough, except tickets for the international service! There are travel agency web sites that will happily set you up with itineraries between India and Bangladesh, and help you get the necessary Visas.
 
Between India and Pakistan it is much more difficult, both getting tickets (get them only at the designated station ticket windows) and Visas to cross the land border.

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but (though the alignments aren't great since they date from *ahem* the 1940s or before) aren't there at least former alignments most of the way from India into Thailand?

There has never been a rail connection between the British colonies in Burma and India. The Japanese built a connection between Burma and Thailand through the Three Pagodas Pass - the famous Death Railway which people were familiarized with mostly through the film "Bridge on the River Kwai", about the construction of a bridge at Kanchanaburi at the Thai end of the line. There have been talks on and off of restoring that route, reconnecting Nam Tok in Thailand with Moulemin in Myanmar. But my speculation is that if/when the Myanmar-Thai railway is built, it will be on a new much higher speed alignment probably connecting into Chiang Mai in Thailand and it will be Standard Gauge, not Meter Gauge.


Edited by jis, 23 May 2017 - 07:47 AM.


#13 Metra Electric Rider

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Posted 23 May 2017 - 12:11 PM

Yeah, I see the connection to the "big" trans-Asia railway that China is funding to be the most immediate connection to the east.

 

I thought I'd heard or read that some of Sri Lanka's rail has been axed, though that could be very wrong information.


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#14 jis

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Posted 23 May 2017 - 12:30 PM

Yeah, I see the connection to the "big" trans-Asia railway that China is funding to be the most immediate connection to the east.

 

I thought I'd heard or read that some of Sri Lanka's rail has been axed, though that could be very wrong information.

Sri Lanka had lost a lot of service to the north during the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) insurrections in Jaffna. Now a lot of that has been restored. Any ferry or eventually fixed link to India, if it ever happens, will of geographic necessity be from the Vavunya Province which was the hotbed of that insurrection. - specifically from the area around Talaimannar on Mannar Islands along what is known as "Adam's Bridge".

 

Ferry service between Rameshwaram and Talaimannar was restored sometime around 2011. Indian Railways cut back from the southernmost point on the Pamban route from Dhanushkodi to Rameshwaram after a cyclone destroyed the line to Dhanushkodi. Apparently ferry has been restored from Dhanushkodi to Talaimannar too, but the still it is not possible to buy a through ticket from Chennai to Colombo as was possible in the 60's. See this interesting article:

 

http://epaper.timeso...1&ViewMode=HTML



#15 Metra Electric Rider

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Posted 23 May 2017 - 12:45 PM

Thanks, that's an interesting article. II like how they called it "effortless" - probably simple, but not effortless (at least in my book) to transfer from train to ferry and back.

 

I thought I'd read that since the civil war would up that there had been some service cuts to the hill country or south coast though.

 

BTW what are "lungis"?


Edited by Metra Electric Rider, 23 May 2017 - 12:46 PM.

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#16 jis

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Posted 23 May 2017 - 01:40 PM

Lungi is a wraparound piece of clothing that is popular in India as shown below (Copyright belongs to the creator):

 

lungi.jpg



#17 Metra Electric Rider

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Posted 25 May 2017 - 02:00 PM

I guess I could've, uh, googled that. So essentially like a sarong....


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