Rail Darpan covers the journey of Western Railway

File Photo: A.K. Gupta, GM/Western Railway releasing the new edition of Western Railway’s popular inhouse magazine ‘Rail Darpan’. Also seen are Rahul Jain, AGM, M.K. Gupta – Chief Rajbhasha Officer, Ravinder Bhakar – CPRO & Chief Editor of ‘Rail Darpan’ along with editorial team members

MUMBAI: Western Railway’s in-house publication, Rail Darpan, writes about the glorious past of Western Railway (WR) and speaks about its bright future. It is a magazine that highlights the services rendered by WR to its millions of commuters and the hard work of its people to drive progress and safeguard its passengers.

In the December issue of Rail Darpan, the highlight was on the evolution of Electric Multiple Unit (EMU) services over Mumbai suburban section. Before EMU, Diesel Current Electric Multiple Unit (DCEMU) train technology had served Mumbai for eight decades. Started in 1928, the DCEMUs glorious journey is detailed in the current issue. It also focuses on the transformation to the alternate current technology from the old direct technology under the guidance of Anil Kumar Gupta, General Manager of Western Railway. The article on DCEMU highlighted the successful journey of this technology.

Like always, the magazine also featured various cultural programmes, language promotion, sports activities, rail exhibitions, seminars and Bollywood celebrities experience with Mumbai local.

Transformational journey

There is no doubt about the role railway played in the life of Mumbaikars. This mode of transportation has not only provided the cheapest and most reliable transportation to the public but have also played a vital role in the social and economic well-being of the city.

In the middle of the 19th century, the British East India Company brought railway to India and it was known ‘aag-gaadi’ or ‘carriage on fire’. Since then, technologies around trains have evolved.

Commenting about this journey of railways, a senior railway official said initially the local train was hauled by steam engines and consisted of three coaches. The steam local train services were started on April 12, 1867, with one train directed between Virar and Back Bay. When electrification commenced, the first electrical local train services were inaugurated on January 5, 1928, by Sir Leslie Wilson, then governor of Mumbai.

Slowly with the rise in popularity of these trains and to meet the increasing demands, the three-coach locals gave way to four-coach locals, and then six-coach locals. At one point of time, it also ferried passengers in eight-coach trains. “The first nine-coach train was introduced in the year 1961 and in order to meet the needs of increased population. WR kept improving their services year after year,” said Ravinder Bhakar, Chief Public Relation Officer (CPRO) of WR.

The total number of services in Western Railway crossed the 1,000 mark in 2013.  “The year 2009 witnessed another milestone landmark in the annals of Indian railways when the world’s first 15-coach train was introduced in Western Railway,” added Bhakar.  It started with one 15-coach train service, but now it runs around 54 services of 15-coach trains and also provides air-conditioned service which was introduced on December 25, 2017.

The AC local which is the first of its kind EMU suburban rake in India makes 12 trips daily between Churchgate and Virar. The state-of-the-art local with automated doors give safety the topmost priority. This feature was appreciated by the commuters as well. Compared to the existing fare structure, most of the commuters said the ticket fare of AC local is affordable. The fare price is not too high compared to a first class ticket.  Shweta Singh, a resident of Navy Nagar who travels to Borivali daily in first class said, “The AC train is the boon for passengers. I want to thank the railways for starting this service on the Western line. If you compare the ticket price with that charged by the fleet cabs, it is not expensive.”

Love from Bollywood

Bollywood and railway go hand-in-hand as most of the railway trains or its premises is being used by the entertainment industry for movies, serials or advertisement. To give an authentic look, the producers prefer shooting train sequences on the railway stations or surrounding areas.

R Balakrishnan, popularly known as R Balki, who has delivered award-winning movies like Paa, Cheeni Kum, English Vinglish, Ki and Ka and Shamitabh, had filmed ‘Padman’, at Kalakund station of WR in Madhya Pradesh. Balki said railways play a great role in fostering a sense of nationality and integrity. “It connects the people with different caste, religion, gender, creed and many others,” added Balki.

He further said whenever he visited Mumbai, he travels in a local train. “I feel it is the suburban local which give Mumbai its cosmopolitan character. But I prefer using them late at night to avoid the rush,” Balki stated. If not director Balki would have preferred to become a cricket commentator or ticket collector. “…I love to collect miniature model of trains,” he added.

Sharing his experience while shooting at Kalakund station in MP, Balki said it was due to best support from the railway staff that they were able to film the scene beautifully.

‘Mahatma Gandhi’ looks over Churchgate

A gigantic multi-coloured mural of Mahatma Gandhi, went on display at the iconic Churchgate station building recently. This mural had earned appreciation from millions of Western Railway commuters. The permanent mural, sponsored by Asian Paints Ltd as part of its CSR activities, has been painted by renowned Brazilian artist Eduardo Kobra and his team of 52 associates and technicians over 18 days.

It is an adaption of a photograph of Mahatma Gandhi at the railway station in the early 1940s clicked by Kulwant Roy and is now owned by Aditya Arya Archive and India Photo Archive, said Bhakar. This photo was taken when India was at the helm of freedom struggle when the railways and its stations played an important role in spreading word of the Independence movement.

The mural is 81-feet tall and 54-feet wide, showing Mahatma Gandhi preparing to get off from the train that has just arrived. “The mural aims to use the power of public art to create a dialogue and join people under a positive message of peace. WR’s Mumbai Division accorded the proposal of Asian Paints in collaboration with St+art India Foundation for the beautification of exterior facade of the Churchgate station, which is also the headquarters of WR,” said Bhakar.

The mural weaves together one of the most iconic leaders of India’s freedom movement who is also revered around the world as the ‘Apostle of Peace’ on the facade of one of Mumbai’s oldest railway stations.

Kobra, known worldwide for his photorealistic portraits, rich in colour and geometric kaleidoscopic shapes, pays tributes to historical leaders in the name of peace, thereby creating memorable landmarks in different cities globally since the past decade.  Among Kobra’s most celebrated pieces of gigantic artwork include the portraits of Oscar Niemeyer in Sao Paolo; Albert Einstein and Mother Teresa in Los Angeles; ‘Kiss’ in Times Square, New York.