The ‘prestigious’ Punjab Mail which ferries rail passengers from the city to Firozpur in Punjab has become the first Indian train to complete 104 years of operation.
The Punjab Limited, as it was known during the pre-Independence days, was started in 1912, a Central Railway statement said today.
However, as per the statement, the exact date of the operation of this train is not available and it has been ascertained on the basis of a complaint filed by “an irate passenger”.
“The origins of the Bombay (now Mumbai) to Peshawar Punjab Mail are rather unclear. Based on a cost estimate paper circa 1911 and a complaint by an irate passenger circa (dated) 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,” it said.
As per the statement, the Punjab Limited used to run on fixed mail days from Bombay’s (now Mumbai) Ballard Pier Mole station to Peshawar, via the GIP route, covering 2,496 km distance in about 47 hours.
The train then comprised 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 and dual berth compartments, the statement said.
“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’,” said the statement.
The train started originating and terminating at Bombay Victoria Terminus (now Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Mumbai) from 1914, it said, adding the train then loosely came to be known as the Punjab Mail 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, the statement said.
This train currently takes 34 hours to cover the 1,930 km distance between Mumbai and Firozpur Cantonment.
The train is electric hauled and the restaurant car has been replaced by a pantry car.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, the statement added.