The Darjeeling Mail is one of the legendary trains in the eastern region of India that has been running from pre-independence days and is still in operation. It connects to the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway at New Jalpaiguri in Siliguri. This is a major train for Kolkata-Siliguri route and Haldibari slip route.
Darjeeling Mail History
Darjeeling Mail is run via East Bengal
During the British period all connections to North Bengal were through East Bengal.
From 1878, the railway route from Kolkata, then called Calcutta, to Siliguri was in two laps. The first lap was a 185 km journey along the Eastern Bengal State Railway from Calcutta Station (later renamed Sealdah) to Damookdeah Ghat on the southern bank of the Padma River. The passengers would then avail a ferry across the river. The second lap of the journey was a 336 km metre gauge line of the North Bengal Railway that linked Saraghat on the northern bank of the Padma to Siliguri.
Later the 1.8 km long Hardinge Bridge across the Padma came up in 1912. In 1926 the metre-gauge section north of the bridge was converted to broad gauge, and so the entire Calcutta - Siliguri route became broad-gauge. The route thus roughly ran: Sealdah-Ranaghat-Bheramara-Hardinge Bridge-Iswardi-Santahar-Hili-Parabtipur-Nilphamari-Haldibari-Jalpaiguri-Siliguri.
The Darjeeling Mail ran on this route in pre-partition days. Even after the partition of India it ran on this route for some years.
Ferry across the Ganges (Post-partition)
With the partition of India in 1947, the major hurdle in connecting Kolkata and Siliguri was that there was no bridge across the Ganges in West Bengal or Bihar. A generally acceptable route to Siliguri was via Sahibganj Loop to Sakrigali ghat, then across the Ganges by ferry to Manihari Ghat on the other side,then to Kishanganj via Katihar and Barsoi and finally through narrow gauge to Siliguri. In 1949 Kishanganj-Siliguri section was too converted to metre gauge,thus making the entire route an uni-gauge one.
Darjeeling Mail run via Farakka Barrage
In the early 1960s, when Farakka Barrage was being constructed, a more radical change was made. Indian Railways created a new broad-gauge rail link from Kolkata, and on a greenfield site south of Siliguri Town built an entirely new broad-gauge junction, New Jalpaiguri.
The 2,240 metres (7,350 ft) long Farakka Barrage carries a rail-cum-road bridge across the Ganges. The rail bridge was thrown open to the public in 1971, thereby linking the Barharwa-Azimganj-Katwa Loop Line to Malda Town, New Jalpaiguri and other railway stations in North Bengal.
Since then Darjeeling Mail has been using the Howrah-New Jalpaiguri line.
According to latest report, there is a plan to run the darjeeling mail in a new route. The new route is Sealdah - DumDum - Barrackpore - Murshidabad - Azim gang - Malda - NJP. This is done to minimise increased & heavy traffic at Bardhaman & Bolpur railway station. Moreover the old route faces too much congestion and is little bit lengthy which results in delay. Besides the people of Murshidabad was deprived from all train running from sealdah/howrah to North-Bengal.
The new route & new trains on this route will ensure them better journey. There is a plan to start the new route within December 2017. The new track is completed & ready and is under clearance. The Eastern railway has already sent a proposal for the change of the route of darjeeling mail to the Railway Board as soon the new route gets its clearance.
Darjeeling Mail Route and Halts
The important halts of the train are:
New Jalpaiguri Junction
Porbot Kanya Superfast Darjeeling Mail Overview
Darjeeling Mail Service Type: Superfast Mail
Darjeeling Mail First Service: January 1, 1879; 138 years ago
Darjeeling Mail Current Operator(s):
Eastern Railway of Indian Railways
Darjeeling Mail Ridership: Most Popular train
Darjeeling Mail Route Start: Sealdah Junction (SDAH)
Darjeeling Mail Stops: 4
Darjeeling Mail End: New Jalpaiguri Junction (NJP)
Darjeeling Mail Distance Travelled: 567 km (Sealdah-New Jalpaiguri)
Darjeeling Mail Service Frequency: Daily
Darjeeling Mail Train Number(s): 12343/12344
Darjeeling Mail On-board Services:
Class(es) AC 1st (1), AC 2nd (2), AC 3rd (7), Sleeper (9), General (6)
Darjeeling Mail Catering Facilities:
No Pantry Car available - one must buy food at the starting station
Darjeeling Mail Technical Details
Darjeeling Mail Rolling Stock:
Siliguri shed WDP4/WDP4B /WDG 4 locomotive
Darjeeling Mail Track Gauge: 1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in)
Darjeeling Mail Operating Speed:
Average speed-65kph. Maximum speed 110kph
Generally runs at 80-105kph
Darjeeling Mail Route
km to Rangpo,Sikkim (line under construction}
to New Jalpaiguri-Alipurduar-Samuktala Road Line
Siliguri Town (change for DHR)
Siliguri Junction (change for DHR)
DHR, narrow gauge railway to Darjeeling
567km New Jalpaiguri (change for DHR)
Line in the middle:Howrah-New Jalpaiguri Line
to Siliguri-Katihar Line via Thakurganj
576km Ambari Falakata
594km Rani Nagar Jalpaiguri
to New Jalpaiguri-New Bongaigaon section
India-Bangladesh border (line removed on both sides of border)
335km Malda Town
Farakka Barrage across Ganges
Line on right:Chilahati-Parbatipur-Santahar-Darshana Line
Hardinge Bridge across Padma
Line on left:Sahibganj Loop, line on right: Gede Branch Line
Line on left: Howrah-Bardhaman Chord, line on right: Sealdah-Ranaghat Line
Left: to Howrah, Right: to Bardhaman via Main
Vivekananda Setu across Hooghly River
0km Sealdah North & Main
0km Sealdah South
to Sealdah South Lines
1. The line on the left is the present route and the line on the right is the past (pre-partition) route
as it stands today.
2. The Siliguri/New Jalpaiguri-Haldibari Line is common to both the old and new routes but in reverse direction.
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