The Indian Railways are the cheapest mode of public transportation in India, even after the recent price hike, which forced Miss Banerjee to act like a retard. In Himachal Pradesh, state transport buses are the most reliable mode of transportation but they are becoming way too expensive with every passing day. Himachal State Transport buses charge a minimum of INR 1.11 per kilometer, where as the National Average is around 60 paisa per kilometer. There are three railway routes in Himachal, Una-Delhi-Himachal Express Route, Kalka-Shimla Heritage Train, and the crowded Jogindernagar-Pathankot route.
Jogindernagar-Pathankot route is no more the same. The trains do not run from the Pathankot Station because the Chakki Bank bridge exists no more. Chakki Bank bridge collapsed in September 2011 and they are
constructing trying to construct a new bridge, which would be constructed by April 2012, supposedly. At their current pace, the bridge will be constructed not before 2015 2025. The new starting point of the trains is Nagrota Suriyan and everyday three trains run towards Jogindernagar, only two of them reach Jogindernagar where as the last one does not go beyond Baijnath, the one that starts at 4 P.M from Nagrota Suriyan Railway Station.
This railway line is not at all profitable for the Indian Railways, even after the recent fare hike; if that is implemented, they will be able to cut short their losses only by a meager percentage. The train runs on diesel and it is overcrowded on weekdays. If you are a daily commuter, you can save a hell lot of money at the expense of your time. If you are just a tourist then you need good luck because if the train halts for passing, it might stay at any random point forever.
The entire route offers amazing views of nature, culture, and the mighty Dhauladhar ranges. The valley opens up only after you cross the Nagrota Bagwan station. The Kalka Shimla line is known for its long and curvaceous tunnels, whereas Pathankot-Jogindernagar line is known for its bridges; long Bridges, narrow bridges, old bridges, roadside bridges, riverside bridges, and much more.
At the Guler station, the train halts for 45 minutes, and there I entered inside the railway engine. I got to know about the technicalities involved in running a diesel engine. Interestingly, the train has a maximum achievable speed of 31kmph, whereas the average speed is 20-22 kmph. They too have a device similar to black box in aircrafts, they are running smart trains it seems. They used to run a fast luxury train, the Kangra Queen, on this route but it did not work well because of economic viability issues.
It cost me only INR 13 from Nagrota Suriyan to Baijnath, which means if they somehow manage to run more and fast trains in Himachal, my transportation costs will come down enabling me to travel more, see more, and know more. The Himachal Government cries at the top of its voice every year asking for the approval of new railway lines in the state. However, the approval never comes, irrespective of the government in the center.
If only they think about me and my journey(s) 🙂
P.S. Next: From Barot, on foot, to Kullu Valley, via Bhubhu Jot (Pass)