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Indian Railways: For its sheer network and timeless charm

'The train is a great leveler'

August 12, 2008

Banker Vijay Aravamudhan loves the magic of the Indian Railways.

The best way to get a sense of India is to travel by train. The Indian train is a great leveler. Where else can you gauge culture, people, geography, people like on a train journey. It is a life experience that makes you feel good.

The sheer network of the Indian Railways and the way it is managed is mindboggling. Actually, it is mesmerising. In the railways, I feel, the journey itself becomes the destination. Just imagine going through fields, villages, towns, bridges and tunnels, it is all such a beautiful experience.

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My favourite train routes are Mumbai to Pune; the Konkan Railway and the Mumbai to Delhi Rajdhani experience. During the monsoon and winter, the Mumbai-Pune journey is lovely. The climb into the Ghats from Karjat to Lonavla, how three engines are used at the rear of the train to help the train up the climb, the awesome view from Khopoli and going in and out of tunnels.

Then there are the mountains, bridges and tunnels on the Konkan route from Mumbai to Goa. You go through tunnels that are sometimes 6, 7 kms long. Then, of course, that sense of speed on the Rajdhani -- it's as if you are flying over green fields.

We are very quick to grumble and criticise the Railways but I think the drivers, station masters, guards and gangmen are our unsung heroes. There is a thankless job and I think they do a commendable job in spite of the pressures and glitches.

The Indian Railways has improved a lot and it is time people showed some respect to our trains. Just see how the new coaches on Mumbai's suburban network were damaged. The spitting and vandalism that goes on. I feel like crying when I see how these beautiful new coaches are destroyed. The Railways should have a dog squad for such vandals. Isn't it also our job to look after the Railways?

Vijay Aravamudhan, a member of the Indian Railways Fan Club, spoke to Archana Masih.

Image: A close up view of 4 PB on the Bathu Khad. The driver has unsuccessfully tried to get the guard's attention for a 'Formation Intact' signal. Near Jwalamukhi Road, Kangra Valley. Photograph courtesy: Mohan Bhuyan/

Also read: Great Train Journeys

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