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India 2012 - 12: M. H. O. W. - Metre Gauge to the Place without Name (50 p.)

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19 Mar 2007
Vienna, Austria

The previous trip report part:
India 2012 - 11: Metre Gauge through the Aravalli Mountains (50 p.)

The accompanying video:

February 12 2012

We find ourselves on Udaipur - Indore Express to Ratlam riding former metre gauge tracks the continuation of which I was about to explore during the day. I would get to Indore as well, but on a more direct metre gauge route than the broad gauge express which had to follow a circle to its destination.


1	UDZ	Udaipur City		20:35		NWR	0	1	 
2	MVJ	Mavli Jn	21:25	21:27	2	NWR	43	1	 
3	COR	Chittaurgarh	22:50	23:00	10	WR	115	1	 
4	NBH	Nimbahera	23:24	23:26	2	WR	144	1	 
5	JWO	Jawad Road	23:37	23:39	2	WR	154	1	 
6	NMH	Nimach		23:55	23:59	4	WR	170	1	 
7	MDS	Mandsor		00:53	00:55	2	WR	219	2	 
8	JAO	Jaora		01:40	01:42	2	WR	270	2	 
9	RTM	Ratlam Jn	04:00	04:20	20	WR	303	2	 
10	KUH	Khachrod	04:49	04:51	2	WR	331	2	 
11	NAD	Nagda Jn	05:13	05:15	2	WR	345	2	 
12	UJN	Ujjain Jn	06:20	06:30	10	WR	400	2	 
13	DWX	Dewas		07:20	07:33	13	WR	440	2	 
14	INDB	Indore Jn	08:35	Last Stn	WR	479	2

The night was spent well thanks to earphones shutting out all snorers, shortly before 4 a.m. we stopped at a station near Ratlam and the lady on the bunk above me asked if we were already there. We reached Ratlam punctually, and I immediately took some pictures. Our train was hauled by an Abu Road "baldie" which reversed at Ratlam, the loco was not changed.

Abu Road WDM-3A 14050 before reversal to the other end of my train. I encountered several "clean train stations" along my trip, in some zones even the "cleanest", hopefully doing it justice with an artificial image edit...

The loco had shunted to the other end and was ready to continue to Ujjain and Indore. Here you can see where the nickname "baldie" had been derived from, the short driver's side hood
was a little rounded off compared to standard ALCOs.

Departure of 19658 Udaipur - Indore Express.

Additionally I managed to capture more trains at this important station of the Western Railway mainline Mumbai - Delhi, for example the arrival of "Paschim Express" pulled by a newly built WAP-7 (see video, minute 44:15). A diesel loco shed is also stationed at Ratlam.

Next I walked past the station building under siege by people lying on the floor sleeping wrapped in blankets. An omnipresent occurence, I even came across more extreme examples later on.

A passage between broad- and metre gauge parts.

The overnight passenger from Akola was 30 minutes delayed, but it soon arrived at the main metre gauge platform.

A selection of the most important halts, the train had been on the way 16 hours (scheduled 15:25 h) for 431 metre gauge kilometres.

52976	AK RTM Fast Passenger MG

1	AK	Akola Jn	First S 13:00		CR	0	1	  
14	KNW	Khandwa Jn	20:00	20:15	15	CR	174	1	 	 
26	MHOW	Mhow		00:25	00:40	15	WR	292	2	 
27	INDM	Indore Jn	01:20	01:30	10	WR	313	2	 
28	PLA	Palia		01:51	01:52	1	WR	327	2	 
29	AJN	Ajnod		02:08	02:09	1	WR	341	2	 
30	FTD	Fatehabad Chandrawati Ganj Jn	
				02:25	02:27	2	WR	352	2	 
31	BNG	Barnagar	03:06	03:07	1	WR	384	2	 
32	RTM	Ratlam Jn	04:25	Last Stn	WR	431	2

Unloading metre gauge carriages.

The driver of Mhow shed YDM-4 6726.

At the main metre gauge platform of Ratlam.



The Mhow YDM-4 reversed chugging, I took a seat at the front end of the train to be in general second class, a compartment for eight with wooden benches, metre gauge coaches did not have seats along the corridor windowsides. The train also included sleeper coaches. It was five o'clock, an hour until departure. An elderly gentleman entered my compartment, wrapped himself into several layers of blankets and laid down on the luggage carrier opposite me. A little later a group of better dressed young Indians came into my compartment defending it well against other contenders. We soon came to talk and it turned out that they were students of a banking and financing academy about to take an examn at Indore. February is examn-month in India, several younger IRFCA friends also had some at the time. We departed, at first windows had to be kept shut due to the cold outside. We travelled at proper speeds, soon behind Ratlam we traversed a few major bridges (see video, minute 50:15).

My train:


1	RTM	Ratlam Jn		06:00		WR	0	1	 
2	BNG	Barnagar	06:52	06:54	2	WR	48	1	 
3	GPX	Gautampura Road	07:14	07:16	2	WR	64	1	 
4	FTD	Fatehabad Chandrawati Ganj Jn	07:38	07:40	2	WR	80	1	 
5	AJN	Ajnod		07:51	07:53	2	WR	91	1	 
6	PLA	Palia		08:11	08:13	2	WR	105	1	 
7	INDM	Indore Jn	08:45	08:55	10	WR	119	1	 
8	RJQ	Rajendra Nagar Indore	09:08	09:10	2	WR	126	1	 
9	RAU	Rau		09:20	09:22	2	WR	130	1	 
10	HKH	Haranyakheri	09:41	09:43	2	WR	136	1	 
11	MHOW	Mhow		09:50	10:10	20	WR	140	1	 
12	PTP	Patal Pani	10:18	10:20	2	WR	145	1	 
13	KKD	Kalakund	10:55	10:57	2	WR	155	1	 
14	CRL	Choral		11:09	11:11	2	WR	165	1	 
15	MKT	Mukhtiara Balwara11:37	11:39	2	WR	178	1	 
16	BWW	Barwaha		11:55	11:57	2	WR	193	1	 
17	OM	Omkareshwar Road12:04	12:06	2	WR	198	1	 
18	SWD	Sanawad		12:16	12:18	2	WR	204	1	 
19	NKR	Nimar Kheri	12:33	12:35	2	WR	215	1	 
20	KTKH	Kotlakheri	12:41	12:43	2	WR	220	1	 
21	ATR	Attar		12:58	13:00	2	WR	229	1	 
22	ANI	Ajanti		13:23	13:25	2	WR	246	1	 
23	KNW	Khandwa Jn	13:55	14:10	15	CR	258	1
36	AK	Akola Jn	22:30	Last Stn	CR	431	1

Sunrise at 7:15 a.m.

Sun shining through the cab with loco crew.

Arrival at Gautampura Road, almost punctual.

ALCO smoke, palm trees and sunrise, what more could you wish for?

Apart from river crossings we traversed fertile flat plains.

At 7:41 a.m. we reached Fatehabad Chandrawati Ganj Junction, from here you could change eastwards to metre gauge trains with destination Ujjain.

Mhow YDM-4 6660 waited with 52958 Mhow - Ratlam passenger ready for departure.

I had considered perhaps getting out at Fatehabad, but there were more and more people boarding so I hesitated as I may have not found any place on following trains, also train times with crossings here were not ideal for photography.

At stations the students always bought something different for breakfast from local vendors inviting me, I could say no to deliciously smelling croissants, but one stop later did not refuse chai. In the meantime we had taken several pictures and mobile videos of each other.

We were passing nomadic groups with sheep and camels, of which I saw more than in Rajasthan.

However, the landscape was much more modern agrarian and stricter divided than in Rajasthan.

The crowd kept growing in Palia, too, I had noticeably returned to central India.

Everywhere along the line one could find old infrastructure relics such as this water tower.

We approached Indore, everyone in the compartment had taken out his test preparations and tried to study in final details. Indore made itself felt by poverty and garbage along the embankment, still it was a boom town, the "Detroit of India", as a large portion of the car industry was located here.

Soon we were riding parallel to broad gauge and by chance in the area of some stabling lines came across my Abu Road WDM-3A - seen in the background - shunting a coach of the Udaipur – Indore Express, which had arrived not much earlier than the metre gauge passenger.

Entering Indore Jn. main station.

After arrival at Indore I became aware that until now I had been on a sparsely crowded train. Huge masses of people squeezed in as if there was no tomorrow.

Beside the crowd which kept pouring in from both platform and opposite sides a few quiet moments could be found.

12961 "Avantika Express" Mumbai Central - Indore Jn. had arrived punctually at the broad gauge section, my train was currently 20 minutes late. At the right border of the photo the metre gauge part of the station can be seen.

Departing Indore, Ratlam WDM-2A 17527 sporting the typical Ratlam winged wheel emblem, once decorating some of India's most prominent WDM-2s.

With ever greater delay we started moving, past colourful, big houses testifying to Indore's wealth. In the foreground of course different scenes could be witnessed, pigs - loads of them here - in front of detergent ads, garbage and finally some kids playing cricket.

That's the way to enjoy life as a sow!

At the suburban station Rajendra Nagar a shabby older man was thrown out of the train, he counterattacked using trackside gravel. I did not understand what the commotion was about, probably fare evasion, but it stayed the only incident in the crowd.

YDM-4 6717 met us with 52978 Mhow - Indore Passenger at Rajendra Nagar. On this busiest metre gauge section 16 train pairs were running per day, still not many if you consider this included crammed long distance and night time services as a suburban operation for a population of two million.
Often you could spot members of brass bands wandering around in cliché uniforms, they usually performed at weddings.

Light moments inside the crowded carriage.

Finally we reached one of my desired destinations, a small town with the illustrious name Mhow - but hold it - was it really a name? According to some theories it was just an abbreviation for "Military Headquarters Of War", in use since British rule and documented as early as 1823. And the name still held true, several Indian army installations and schools were based here. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mhow
Mhow was one of the main starting points for metre gauge trains, of course to Indore but also southbound where a mountainous section followed. The town had been a metre gauge depot since colonial times, all YDM-4s in use on the line were based here.

I showed my permit to the station master and then took pictures at the southern station exit. YDM-4 6353 rolled into the station from the ghat section hauling 52992 Khandwa - Ujjain passenger. The level crossing kept being busy until the last moment, but the train was only moving at creeping speeds.

A view at Mhow, definitely one of the largest remaining pure metre gauge stations in India.

The train into the opposite direction arriving.

As always: very colourful life.


Closed barriers only posed minor obstacles.

My train was still standing on platform 1.

In front of mighty cabin A.

Finally, my train was departing 25 minutes late.

Once more Indian Railways window views of the passing train.


In India you never have to look far for the next friendly face!



The train had shortly stopped at the starter signal blocking the level crossing but soon continued. At this tempo you had all the time in the world for photography.

The last vehicle was approaching.

As soon as it had passed, road traffic resumed.

YDM-4 6373 was taking a little break, to the right the loco shed can be seen.

Once more a purple monster was approaching.

Next I took a seat in the shade close to a nice semaphore gantry. A soldier on a motorbike came by, stopped in some distance from me and started talking on the mobile phone. I walked over to him, greeted and said I had a permit. He was friendly and left soon afterwards. Shortly later a younger man in Air Force uniform approached me and introduced himself: "Hello, Military Secret Service!"

... to be continued ...
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