the pace of indian trains

Featured image courtesy: Superfast1111 Wikimedia Commons

I’d forgotten the slow pace of Indian trains until I reread my letters to my sister. Perhaps they’re faster now, but when I was in India in the mid 1970s, they were as slow as peak hour traffic.

Photo courtesy: Superfast1111 Wikimedia Commons https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Parle_08.jpg

We left by train from Jamnagar to Ahmedabad, a distance of 300 kilometres. The entire day was absorbed in train travel. We didn’t reach our destination until nine in the evening. I spent the journey reading. My letter even mentioned the name of the book—History of India.

Even though we had first class tickets, it wasn’t much different from third class except for the all-important fact that our seats were booked for us and only us. No pushy person would edge a corner of their backside on to your seat the way they did in third class. No person would be towering over you and bumping against your shoulder as the train rattled on its set course. And on that stretch of railway line, there was no air conditioning, only a fan humming above.

5 thoughts on “the pace of indian trains”

  1. On my trip to India in 2015, I took a train from a small town in Goa to Hospet in Karnataka. I remember the train was particularly slow with many stops throughout the journey.

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  2. It’s interesting to read about your first class train tickets in India those years ago. It reminds me of a time when I traveled on an overnight train in Malaysia. First class tickets didn’t entitled me to a bed to lie on. It wasn’t exactly sanitary but there was some privacy from the other passengers. I wasn’t sure if it was worth the extra I paid for.

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    1. Sadly, I don’t believe it’s changed a lot, at least in Tamil Nadu which is one of the poorest states in India. I travelled by train within Chennai and the condition of the compartment was no better than it had once been. The only improvement was that I could travel in a women’s only section.

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      1. Some places will take a long while to change. Having a women’s section in the trains makes it safe for women to travel, but it also points at bigger issues in society – and inequality.

        Liked by 1 person

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