17. The Palace on Wheels is a luxury train that’s a big favourite with well-heeled foreign tourists and a small proportion of Indian passengers who want to live life like the royals of past princely states. The carriages of the train have been designed to resemble the private rail cars of the maharajas and the Viceroy of pre-Independence India. For a cost ranging from Rs 5 to 10 lakh, the train takes you on a tour titled ‘A Week in Wonderland’ through the old cities of Rajasthan (and Agra, for a visit to the Taj Mahal).
18. Conceptualised and run by an NGO called the Impact India Foundation, the Lifeline Express (also known as the Jeevan Rekha Express) is the world’s first hospital on a train. This ground-breaking concept brings high-quality medical care to the most remote part of the country.
Q. Which organisation that won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999, has been offering medical services on a specialised hospital train to wounded citizens in Ukraine, even as the train ferries them from the heart of the war in eastern Ukraine to cities in the relatively conflict-free west of the country?
19. The first-ever passenger train in India ran 34 km between Bori Bunder (Bombay) and Thane on April 16, 1853. The train – carrying some 400 guests in 13 carriages – was operated by the Great Indian Peninsular Railway, and pulled by three locomotives named Sahib, Sultan and Sindh.
20. Diamond crossings are a rare feature of railway track construction where the tracks cross each other at close to right angles. India has several of them, with the most famous one being at Nagpur. Though this one is often cited as being at the centre of India, where a major north-south line from Delhi intersects that from east-west one from Howrah to Mumbai, this is not exactly true, with one of the lines being in reality a service branch line from the Nagpur freight yard. Nevertheless, it’s a double diamond crossing (with two sets of parallel lines crossing each other) and quite a marvel of engineering.
21. Launched on World AIDS Day in 2007, the Red Ribbon Express was an HIV/AIDS awareness campaign train that, over the years since it slaunch, travelled more than 27,000 kilometres across India bringing its message to more than 50,000 towns and villages.
22. Designed by the British architectural engineer Frederick William Stevens in an exuberant Italian Gothic style, construction on the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus in Mumbai began in 1878, and was completed in 1887. The spectacular building is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Q. The building construction was finished in 1887, the year marking 50 years of which monarch’s rule? It was initially named after her.
23. The Shakuntala Railways, a 190km-long narrow gauge railway line between Yavatmal and Murtijapur, was set up in 1910 by a private British firm called Killick-Nixon. When the various railway companies that operated across India were nationalised in 1952, this line was inexplicably neglected. As a result, until 2016, when the line was finally shut down, it remained the only privately-owned stretch of railway in India, and that too belonging to a British company.
Q. The line was built to carry what commodity from the fields of Maharashtra where it was grown, to Mumbai (Bombay at the time) and on by boat to Manchester, where factories converted it into products of everyday use?
24. While this is of course a record that changes every so often as new train routes are announced, India’s longest running train currently is the Dibrugarh-Kanyakumari Vivek Express, which covers a distance of 4,273km in 82-plus hours.
Q. There are four Vivek Express trains that run on four different routes. They were announced in 2011-12 to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of which religious figure in 2013?
Palace on Wheels: https://www.thepalaceonwheels.org/
India’s first train: https://www.ixigo.com/indias-first-passenger-train-1853-history-story-1161428
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus: https://artsandculture.google.com/exhibit/chhatrapati-shivaji-maharaj-terminus-mumbai-chhatrapati-shivaji-maharaj-terminus/7AICqFzBGzp0Jw?hl=en
India’s longest running trains: https://www.cnbctv18.com/photos/buzz/here-are-the-longest-running-trains-of-india-railways-4471371-3.htm