Recently Punjab Mail completes 105 years and Deccan Queen completed 87th Birthday. Here are the details of Punjab Mail and Deccan Queen
Recently Punjab Mail completes 105 years
The origins of the Bombay to Peshawar Punjab Mail are rather unclear. Based on a Cost Estimate paper circa 1911 and a complaint by an irate passenger circa October 12, 1912 about the ‘late arrival of the train by a few minutes at Delhi’, it has been more or less inferred that the Punjab Mail made her maiden run out of Ballard Pier Mole station on 1 June 1912.
Punjab Mail is over 16 years older than the more glamorous Frontier Mail. Ballard Pier Mole station was actually a hub for GIPR services. The Punjab Mail, or Punjab Limited as she was then called, finally steamed out on 1 June 1912. To begin with, there were the P and O steamers bringing in the mail, and the Officers of the Raj, along with their wives, on their first posting in Colonial India. The steamer voyage between Southampton and Bombay lasted thirteen days. As the British officials held combined tickets both for their voyage to Bombay, as well as their inland journey by train to their place of posting, they would, after disembarking, simply board one of the trains bound for either Madras, Calcutta or Delhi. Of the trains, the most prestigious was the Punjab Mail, or Punjab Limited as
she was then called.
The Punjab Limited used to run on fixed mail days from Bombay’s Ballard Pier Mole station all the way to Peshawar, via the GIP route, covering the 2,496 km in about 47 hrs.
The train comprised of six cars: three for passengers, and three for postal goods and mail. The three passenger carrying cars had a capacity of 96 passengers only. The sparkling cars were all corridor cars, and were made up of first class, dual berth compartments. Catering as they were to the upper class gentry, the cars were pretty well appointed, offering lavatories, bathrooms, a restaurant car, and a compartment for luggage and the servants of the white sahibs.
During the pre-partition period, the Punjab Limited was the fastest train in British India. The Punjab Limited’s route ran over GIP track for the large part, and passed through Itarsi, Agra, Delhi, Amritsar and Lahore, before terminating at Peshawar Cantonment.
The train started originating and terminating at Bombay VT (now Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus Mumbai)from 1914. The train then loosely came to be known as the Punjab Mail, rather than Punjab Limited, and became a daily service.
From a service meant primarily for the upper class white sahibs, the Punjab Mail soon started catering to the lower classes too. Third class cars started appearing on the Punjab Mail by the mid 1930s. In 1914, the GIP route from Bombay to Delhi was some 1,541 km. which the train used to cover in 29 hr. 30 min.
In the early 1920s, this transit time was further reduced to 27 hr. 10 min., despite as many as eighteen intermediate stops. In 1972, the transit time was again pushed up to 29 hr. In 2011, the Punjab Mail has as many as 55 intermediate stops. The Punjab Mail got an air-conditioned car in 1945.
After electrification of the Thull Ghats, the train has been electric hauled from Bombay VT to Manmad, from whence WP class steam engines took over. The train was WP hauled from Manmad all the way till Ferozepore. In 1968, the train was dieselized upto Jhansi, and its loading increased from 12 to 15 cars. Dieselization was later extended from Jhansi till New Delhi, then by 1976, onwards till Ferozepore. The number of cars was increased to 18, with two cars getting added on at Jhansi. In the late 1970/early 1980s, WCAM/1 dual current locomotive to run the Punjab Mail on electric traction right upto Bhusaval, with the changeover from dc to ac traction at Igatpuri.
The Punjab Mail takes 34 hrs. to cover the 1,930 km between Mumbai and Firozpur Cantonment. The train is electric hauled. The restaurant car has been replaced by a pantry car.
It has one AC First Class cum AC2 Tier, one AC2 Tier, Five AC3 Tier, 10 Sleeper Class, one pantry car, 3 general second class coaches and two general second class cum guard’s brake vans.
Recently Deccan Queen completed 87th Birthday
The introduction of ‘’Deccan Queen’’ between the two premier cities of Maharashtra on 1st June 1930 was a major landmark in the history of the Great Indian Peninsula Railway, the forerunner of the Central Railway. This was the first deluxe train introduced on
the railway to serve 2 important cities of the region and was aptly named after Pune, which is also known as ‘’QueenofDeccan’’ (‘’Dakkhan ki Rani’’).
Initially, the train was introduced with 2 rakes of 7 coaches each one of which was painted in silver with scarlet mouldings and the other with royal blue with gold lines. The under frames of the coaches of the original rakes were built in England while the coach bodies were built in the Matunga Workshop of the GIP Railway.
The Deccan Queen, initially, had only first class and second class accommodation. First class was abolished on 1st January 1949 and second class was redesigned as first class, which continued up to June 1955 when third class was introduced on this train for the first time. This was later re-designated as second class from April 1974 onwards. The coaches of the original rakes were replaced in 1966 by anti-telescopic steel bodied integral coaches built by Integral Coach Factory, Perambur. These coaches incorporated improved design of bogies for better riding comfort and also improvements in the interior furnishings and fittings. The number of coaches in the rake was also increased to 12 from the original 7 coaches providing additional accommodation. Over the year the number of coaches in the train has been increased to the present level of 17 coaches.
From its inception, apart from providing high standards of comfort to the passengers, the train has witnessed various improvement such as introduction, for the first time in India, of coaches with roller bearings, replacement of end on generation coaches with self generating coaches with 110 volts system and introduction of first and second class chair cars providing increased accommodation to passengers. The distinctive colour scheme of cream and oxford blue with red band above the window level has been recently adopted as the colour scheme for this train.
With the ever-growing aspirations of the travelling public for better amenities, improved standards of comfort and better quality of service, it was considered necessary to give a complete facelift to the Deccan Queen.
The rake was changed in 1995 with the following special features:
All newly manufactured or about a year old, air brake coaches.
The 5 first class chair car in the old rake have been replaced by 5 AC chair cars providing an additional seating capacity of 65 in a dust-free environment. Also the 9-second class chair cars provide additional seating capacity of 120 seats compared to the old coaches. Thus, new rake provides a total seating capacity of 1417 as against 1232 seats in the old rake i.e. an increase of 15%.
The dining car offers table service for 32 passengers and has modern pantry facilities such as microwave oven, deep freezer and toaster. The dining car is also tastefully furnished with cushioned chairs and carpet.
The history of Deccan Queen (Dakkhan ki Rani) is literally a tale of two cities. The public of both the cities are happy with the impeccable record of “right time start” and “arrival” of Deccan Queen. Over the last 80 years of its colorful history, the train has grown from a mere medium of transportation between two cities into an institution binding generation of intensely loyal passengers.
The management systems of Deccan Queen (2123 Dn / 2124 Up) have been assessed by International Services Ltd. and found to comply with the requirements of ISO 9001-2000 under the Joint Accreditation System of Australia and New Zealand in November 2003.
At Present Deccan Queen (12123/12124) runs with 17 coaches including 4 AC chair car, one Buffet Car, 10 second class chair car and two second class cum brake vans.