Ever wondered about the quirks of railway stations around theworld?
Last Updated : 02 October 2023, 21:02 IST

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Venkatanarasimharajuvaripeta, isn’t that a mouthful? That is the longest name of a railway station on our Southern Railway in Andhra. How about this: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch? This 58-letter word in Wales denotes the longest station name in the world. I have crossed both of them!

A few days ago, TV channels ran a story about a UP minister entering Lucknow Railway Station in his car using the disabled persons’ ramp. I recalled that even an aam aadmi’s car or cab could enter the platform at two stations: Madras Egmore and Howrah. Again, I have been on both. The facility is no longer available in Egmore. But it still exists in Howrah on platforms 22/23 but only for listed persons. These facts brought back some more interesting facts.

Railwaymen talk in numbers regarding the train and the time (in four figures)! But here are a few terms I remember: The first one is ‘Block signal,’ which is rung 15-20 minutes before the arrival of a train; it means blocking the track against the movement of traffic over a particular section so that an incoming train can arrive. It is rung when the train has just crossed the previous station.

Next is ‘Outer,’ which is the first stop signal before the train enters from the block section to the station section. Many times, you may feel frustrated waiting on a stationary train at the Outer Signal. It is because another train is already at the station. If one track is not free, the other one cannot enter until the first leaves.

The station master (now manager) takes the call on which train enters the station first. Since the station is under his sole control, the engine driver (new name: Loco Pilot) is bound to obey
the manager’s decision; he waits, and you too!

You would have noticed a railway employee standing with a huge ‘key’ (and at night with a glowing lamp also) right at the beginning of the platform, which the assistant pilot from the engine picks up stylishly and throws away the key already held by him. It is the token, which resembles a key/ring and is a large one made of metal or bamboo with a small leather pouch attached to it.

A written communication is placed in the leather pouch, which a loco pilot is required to have/see before entering a track. The token is clearly endorsed with the names of the section to which it belongs.

Did you know that the world’s longest platform is at Hubballi Junction in Namma Karnataka, at almost 5000 feet? My earlier hometown, Trichy Junction, which used to be the 17th longest in the world, is now way behind. The Appalachian Trail/Benson station in the United States has a platform that is only long enough for a single bench! The shortest name of a station is Ib,
in Odisha.

This much information on railways will do for today!

Published 02 October 2023, 21:02 IST

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